“A plan for tomorrow’s JSU”: five-year strategic framework announced at town hall

Courtesy of Alba Conejero Gutierrez/JSU

Abigail Harrison, News Editor

The JSU Strategic Planning Committee held a town hall meeting on Monday, October 4 to discuss the future of the university. Members of the committee provided an overview of the university’s proposed strategic framework and new five-year plan.

As the current plan expires, Dr. Killingsworth visioned a new strategic plan that is student-centered and will not just be lifeless paperwork that stays on the shelf.

“I wanted a succinct plan that everybody can understand,” Dr. Killingsworth said. “That if you approach anyone on this campus at any time, they understand the strategic plan and can share that strategic plan with you.”

Work for new strategic ideas began earlier in the year. A team of faculty members, staff, and students researched assigned areas around campus to determine the top issues of the university. A list of thirty potential areas of improvement was narrowed down to ten issues to be discussed at a President’s Cabinet retreat on February 24, 2021.

From the large pool of research, surveys, and feedback, the Cabinet decided on a plan focused on three areas, which at the time were called Discover, Connect, and Thrive. Also at the retreat, a theme was chosen for the plan. The theme shares the same slogan as Dr. Killingsworth’s Presidential Inauguration: “One University. One Family. One Legacy.”

As the plan developed, three subcommittees were formed. The subcommittees were Teaching and Learning, Community Connections, and Enrollment Advancement and Financial  Performance. 

Each subcommittee consisted of various staff members with specific focuses for the plan. The individual work of each subcommittee was important, but the teamwork of the three groups was what helped improve the plan.

“We all started working collectively and working in harmony developing what seems to be a balanced plan, a thoughtful plan, and a very simple plan,” said Dr. Joe Walsh, Vice Provost.

The Strategic Planning Committee used all of the information collected throughout the process to finalize the plan for the future of JSU. This finalized plan focused on three commitments: Discover, Engage, Reach.

The first area of focus in the strategic plan is Discover. Under this area, the university wants to continue to provide students with diverse and meaningful learning experiences that will prepare them for success. The three areas of focus are Experiences, Environments, and Expectations.

The goals for Discover are to expose students to real-world knowledge, to create new learning environments that are equipped with technological enhancements, and to promote various learning skills and diverse opportunities for students.

The second commitment is Engage. The university plans to use this step to create partnerships within the campus, community, and region. The three areas of focus are Benefit of Belonging, Mutual Relationships, and Power of Place.

The goals for Engage are to improve accessibility to create a safe and diverse campus, to strengthen partnerships, and to ensure a vibrant, successful campus that will attract diverse learners.

The third focus of the plan is Reach. JSU wants to be a competitive university that is also accessible and affordable for students. To accomplish this, the plan focuses on Inclusive Enrollment, a Spirit of Generosity, and a Culture of Accountability. 

The goals for Reach are to enroll diverse students from across the region, state, and nation, to encourage donor support that will contribute to student success, and to create an environment that promotes accountability for effective and efficient learning. 

After reading the outline of the strategic framework, questions may arise about what the future of JSU will look like with this new plan, and the answer will be different for each individual. With the open-model structure of the framework, individuals can use the commitments as guides when creating their own personal plans for their college experiences.

Dr. Walsh believes the flexibility of the plan will be beneficial because it “empowers every single person. [It] puts the trust in departments, in colleges, in various units, even in individuals to say, ‘This is how I want to get where JSU is going and here is my plan to do that.’”

This means students, staff, and faculty members will have the power to decide what they believe the campus needs to be successful, and they can use the framework for support.

The next step in the process is for the proposed strategic plan to be presented to the Board of Trustees at the upcoming Board meeting. However, the Strategic Planning Committee is asking for feedback from community members before this meeting.
More detailed information about the outline of the plan can be found by watching this brief video. The recorded town hall meeting and presentation can be viewed on the JSU Youtube channel.

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