Strategic planning process sets stage for WSU’s next chapter


Thanks to the work of a number of dedicated deans, faculty and staff, and Provost Dan Bernardo and Vice Provost Erica Austin, we have reached the point where our strategic planning process can move into a broader public phase.

As you may know, we are nearing the end of our current strategic plan.

Of course, the context for our new strategic plan is much different than that of the previous one. The environment in which we – and every other higher education institution in the country – operate has changed dramatically. It obviously has changed in terms of funding model. From 2008 to 2012, we experienced some of the leanest budget years in the history of the institution. Our resource base shifted dramatically from state funds to student tuition dollars, a trend that thankfully came to an end this year.

There have been other dramatic changes in our environment: the impact of technology on how we deliver coursework and the robust growth of the Global Campus, a move to enrollment-based budgeting for colleges and departments, and the growing diversity of our student body as well as the stakeholders we serve.

Given those changes, how do we plan for the next chapter in the history of our institution? What do we really need to focus on?

Our land-grant mission is not going to change. We will continue to provide access to quality higher education to undergraduate and graduate students. We will continue to conduct the cutting-edge research and generate the new knowledge needed to solve the current and emerging challenges of the day. We will continue to deliver and apply that research and new knowledge to positively impact communities in Washington, the nation and the world.

The strategies and tactics we use to accomplish that mission, however, will change. I consider this plan to be a way to refresh and refine our approaches to what we do given the changing environment in which we find ourselves.

The Strategic Planning Committee members appointed early this year are working to finalize a draft plan that should stimulate conversation around a number of our most significant goals and aspirations. That draft plan places more of an emphasis on accountability, transparency and institutional effectiveness. It focuses on our commitment to integrate diversity and internationalization throughout all areas of the institution, rather than set them aside as separate areas of emphasis. The new plan also will include a tactical tier with performance indicators by which we can measure our progress.

As the process moves forward, I ask that when contacted to provide feedback on the draft strategic plan that you enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to participate. The results of our collective efforts will be our blueprint for building a strong, forward-looking institution able to effectively navigate whatever changes the next five years will bring.

More information about the planning timeline and Strategic Plan Committee is available at