Strategic planning is a systematic process to identify and analyze problems, to set goals and objectives for addressing those problems, to select and implement evidence-based strategies for solving those problems, and then to evaluate the success of the strategies.
Engaging in these steps will ensure that (1) efforts are targeted to meet a campus’s needs and problems as documented by local data and (2) selected strategies are evidence-based, drawing on research literature and theory. Safe and supportive learning environments do not just happen—they are the result of careful, coordinated planning across stakeholders who use evidence-based practices to accomplish measurable goals.
Climate issues such as student physical, mental, and sexual health, campus and community safety, substance use, and crisis intervention should be woven into the broader institutional strategic plan and aligned with the broader mission and activities of the university. Incorporating these concerns involves creating clear data-based arguments that connect these issues with the accomplishment of institutional growth, academic success, and funded research. Rather than having separate plans to address these issues, planners should find ways to integrate safety, wellness, climate, and civic engagement into larger institutional goals.
Although involving multiple stakeholders in the strategic planning process can feel time-consuming and cumbersome, it is important that information and perspectives come from those who are directly involved in the environment. Critical, then, is the involvement of students, faculty, administrators from various levels, alumni, professional staff, parents, and community partners. Consensus may not always be possible, but a good plan gets input from a variety of perspectives.
Strategic planning requires timely data that can paint a clear picture of the institution‘s current climate. Data on outcomes as diverse as graduation and attrition, student health, substance use, crime and judicial affairs, student engagement, cocurricular engagement, diversity, and student development must be reviewed by the group to guide goal setting.