Why develop a new strategic plan?
Building upon what was learned through the development and implementation of the Flagship Agendas 2010 and 2020, and taking into account the dramatic changes affecting the higher education landscape over the last five years, a decision was made in early 2016 to embark upon the development of a new strategic plan for the University. Past LSU strategic plans focused on growth. The new initiative focused on converging the energy of LSU’s faculty, staff, and students to advance the institution’s leadership role in the state and the nation, and to graduate leaders who measure their success not only by their own achievements, but by the impact they can have on others.
What was the process?
The process to develop LSU’s strategic plan encompassed thousands in the LSU family of students, faculty, and staff—as well as parents, alumni, and business and industry leaders. This initiative, which spanned a period of 18 months, was deliberate, thoughtful, and inspirational. The process was divided into three key sections: defining the values or attributes of the LSU graduate; developing strategic challenges, and identifying supporting pillars. Throughout the strategic plan progression, the concepts, ideas and suggested initiatives were defined and refined by participants across the university landscape and in the state.
How was information gathered? Who participated?
In late 2015, University leaders made plans for the development of a new strategic plan. In early 2016, the University Planning Committee (UPC) began the process of gathering information. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and business leaders participated in extensive focus groups and online surveys to offer input on a variety of topics including the university’s strengths and weaknesses, and its opportunities for success. In addition, Provost Richard Koubek conducted numerous conversations with key stakeholders to gather additional feedback. Nearly 2,200 faculty, staff and students lent their voices and opinions on LSU and their aspirations for the University and its role.
How did the plan begin to take shape?
Following the qualitative research phase, university deans, vice presidents, vice provosts, faculty, and staff senate leaders attended a Strategic Planning Leadership Retreat to further shape the core of the plan. In addition to providing their opinions and aspirations for LSU, this group confirmed the list of six values that define an LSU graduate: Globally Engaged, Creative, Collaborative, Innovative, Transformative, and Culturally Adept.
The ideas and information from the Strategic Planning Leadership Retreat, as well as the newly identified Values, provided context for the Strategic Planning Summit, where a group of 60 volunteer faculty, staff, and students participated in deep conversations about the plan. Emerging from these meetings were initial Strategic Themes: economy, health, education, the environment/coast/energy and arts/culture. Participants noted that the theme sectors that not only demanded LSU’s focus, but also allowed the university to use its unique expertise in solving challenges that face our state, our nation, and the world. “I’ve often mentioned to the participants assisting with the process that if the state of Louisiana created a strategic plan, these themes would be at the top of the list,” explained Koubek. “As an entity that plays an integral role in improving the quality of life here in Louisiana, LSU plans to be at the forefront of making positive strides toward addressing these critical issues.”
Board of Supervisor’s Approval
In the early part of 2017, a Board of Supervisor’s retreat was held in Lafayette to review the efforts of the strategic planning committee and present the plan in its current state. The board participated in facilitated discussions, offered feedback on the Themes, Supporting Pillars and the overall content of the plan, and unanimously approved it to move forward.
What was next phase in the process?
Throughout early 2017, nine subcommittees deliberated the strategic challenges and supporting pillars. The subcommittees met often with volunteer faculty and staff throughout early 2017. In these meetings, these groups reshaped and refined the strategies. As the semester drew to a close, the Office of the Provost and the subcommittee leaders held widely publicized forums to provide an overview of the plan and to gather additional input. A second online survey followed, asking participants to rank the initiatives proposed by the nine subcommittees. Following these meetings and the survey results, the nine committees were asked to submit a list of initiatives that would serve as action items moving forward in the future.
What happened in the final phase in the process?
As the planning process concluded, “Developing Leaders” joined the five other Strategic Challenges. The other Supporting Pillars were categorized as “Our Institutional Framework” and noted as important areas in which LSU must invest to have a comprehensive impact across the university.
With these changes in place, the Provost challenged the campus community to suggest “Big Ideas”—initiatives that could elevate the university nationally by reinforcing LSU’s strengths as well as addressing the needs of the state, nation and the world. After much discussion, the original initiatives were divided into categories. Some were moved into the appropriate colleges to be implemented at a more grass roots level by the deans. Other initiatives became part of an appendix to the plan to be explored in the future and others were combined and folded into the ten “Big Idea” initiatives, which is a vital part of the plan and vision for LSU.
The plan will be presented to the LSU Board of Supervisors at its meeting in the fall. Once approved in its final format, metrics will be added to measure its ongoing success, and it will begin serving as a broad guideline for all of the university, including divisions, colleges, departments, centers and other academic units for developing individualized strategic plans.
“Through these 18 months, I personally experienced the talent and ingenuity of the Strategic Plan participants as it was shaped and re-sharpened. The breadth of experience, knowledge and dedication in creating this vital platform for our future was deeply evident. Thank you.”
F. King Alexander