Priority Strategic Goals: April 4, 2003
— DRAFT —

The following priority strategic goals were revised based on feedback from college and university forums held in January/February 2003.

Academic Distinction

I. St. Cloud State University will strive to provide a quality educational experience for undergraduate and graduate students.

A. The University will strive for excellence by providing a rich and diverse curriculum. Classes and programs will integrate diverse perspectives.

Rationale: Curriculum should provide both depth and breadth. Students must be able to understand issues in enough depth to argue a reasonable position and to address problems in their lives (workplace, family, community). Diversity of perspectives is one of SCSU's key values. We value breadth of education at the undergraduate level balanced by depth of knowledge in majors and minors.

B. The University will strive for excellence in upper-division liberal arts and professional (majors and minors) and graduate programs.

Rationale: As a comprehensive university, SCSU especially values the depth of education provided by upper-division and graduate programs. Students enroll in universities for degrees in major fields. SCSU is obligated, therefore, to ensure a quality educational experience, particularly in major/minor upper-division programs. Disciplinary knowledge and skills enable students to obtain jobs within their fields. Graduate programs integrated with undergraduate programs will enrich both programs and increase the depth of learning for students.

C. The University will strive for academic excellence in programs by either maintaining accreditation or following national guidelines and standards issued by professional associations.

Rationale: Students choose SCSU because of its plethora of accredited and otherwise nationally recognized programs. SCSU acknowledges that aligning programs with national standards ensures quality and keeps programs competitive.

D. The University will strive to produce an intellectual atmosphere conducive to a comprehensive learning experience by focusing on quality in-class and out-of-class experiences such as small class size, advising, mentoring, internships, performances, etc.

Rationale: SCSU values student learning and recognizes that significant learning occurs outside as well as inside the classroom. Students should have access each semester to classes where class size is kept small in order to maximize faculty/student interaction (NCHEMS). Comprehensive learning experiences can only occur in an intellectual environment that includes interaction and collaboration among faculty and students as well as programs (on campus and in the community) that provide professionalizing experiences.

E. The University will not only be a place for learning; it shall also strive to create knowledge through research within the programs. Faculty will use various models of pedagogy and scholarship to enhance the student’s experience both within and outside of the classroom.

Rationale: The integration of student learning and research endeavors produces an active and vibrant university. Various models of learning and scholarship, such as the Glassick and Boyer, model provides a viable framework and is reflected in appropriate activities such as colloquia.

F. The University will strive to offer graduate programs that are integrated and supportive of our undergraduate programs.

Rationale: The tension between traditional and applied practices in our programs provide a strong basis for graduate programs that are both integrative and supportive of our undergraduate programs. Teaching in graduate courses encourages faculty to keep up to date in current theory and practice in their fields, thus maintaining the currency and competitiveness of both graduate and graduate programs. This currency adds to the quality of student learning and produces both undergraduate and graduate students who can contribute up-to-date knowledge and practices within the workplace. Such currency also contributes to program quality and aids in student recruitment. In these ways, graduate programs integrated with undergraduate programs enrich both programs and increase the depth of learning for students. In addition, the opportunity to teach in graduate programs aids in recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty.

G. The University will strive to selectively recruit students to match the academic major, minor and graduate programs. Comprehensive recruitment strategies and practices will be developed into a deliverable Recruitment and Retention for Academic Distinction plan.

Rationale: Active recruitment of students who excel is a way in which the University can increase retention and achieve academic distinction with the end result of overall excellence (Programs, Student involvement etc.) At present the only measures for academic achievement are student GPA's, ACT scores and graduation rankings. Therefore we should meet this goal with higher standards in order to achieve excellence and attract students who excel.

H. Through recruitment and retention, the University will actively increase the numbers of students reflecting demographic diversity (domestic and global).

Rationale: Demographic trends show increasing diversity. There will be more high school graduates in Minnesota especially among African American, Latino and Asian/Pacific groups, while showing a decrease in White and non-Latino students enrolling in higher education. (Data Source: Minnesota Higher Education Services Office)

I. The University will actively increase student retention in order to optimize the graduation rate in all programs.

Rationale: SCSU’s graduation rate is approximately 40% (NCHEMS), which indicates the possibility of significant improvement. Data (SCSU) shows a greater than average drop in student retention from the freshman to sophomore years and sophomore to junior years. This lack of retention coupled with the belief that there is available capacity at the upper division level, junior and senior, programs provides an opportunity to shift students to our areas of strengths (majors and minors) and, thereby improve the efficiency of the university.

Service Community

II. St. Cloud State University will emphasize and support services that lead to higher retention and success for students, faculty and staff.

A. University resources will be aligned to match desired activity.

Rational: Service to students is strongly affected by resources, including but not limited to instruction and key services like advising, career planning, counseling, campus-wide tutoring, learning resources and technology services, residential life, etc. The ability to provide an effective work environment is also tied to resource allocation

B. SCSU will maintain programs and services that strive to make the campus one that respects diversity and works for social justice and a sense of connectedness for students and employees.

Rational: The university will provide opportunities for services and a variety of student organizations established to promote ideological and cultural understanding, and provide individual support. Essential related services include but are not limited to the American Indian Center, Center for International Studies, GLBT Services, the Jewish Cultural Center, Multicultural Student Services, Student Disability Services, The Women’s Center.

University Community Relations

Goal 1:
St. Cloud State University will support and recognize practices and actively promote open dialogue and understanding among members of its internal community.

Rationale: The strength and reputation of St. Cloud State University services comes from the commitment of its faculty and staff. SCSU currently lacks the sense of a single University community. The University must strengthen internal trust, confidence and goodwill.

1A: Identify and remove barriers and issues that prevent community building.

1B: Develop program to enhance communication and information sharing
among members of internal community.

Goal 2:
St. Cloud State University will support and recognize partnership development and community engagement efforts that contribute to the well being and stability of the University and its external stakeholders.

Rationale: As one of the St. Cloud area’s largest employers and a major economic and cultural force in Central Minnesota, St. Cloud State University must expand on the symbiotic nature of a University and its surrounding communities to ensure that both entities are healthy and viable in the future.

2A: Develop programs and initiatives that position St. Cloud State University as the primary educational partner throughout Central Minnesota.

2C: Promote the strengths of the University through an effective external relations program.

Technology

IV. SCSU will provide appropriate technologies and resources that support teaching, learning, service and access. This goal is in alignment with the SCSU Technology Master Plan.

A. The university will provide students and faculty with classrooms and laboratories
containing up-to-date, discipline-specific equipment and software.

Rationale: Technology is a means to offer students a high quality education with the skills needed to compete in the marketplace and to make that education accessible. Skills in most fields, from fine arts to technical professional fields, use some form of technology, which may range from microscopes, musical instruments and kilns to computers and software.

B. The university will utilize information technology and distributed learning to support
classroom learning and to provide access for outreach.

Rationale: With demographics changing (Data Source: Minnesota Higher Education Services Office), and job requirements requiring ongoing education (Data Source: MDES) many of our new students may have time and location constraints. Distributed learning is one way to make education accessible for them and allow the institution to access new markets.

C. The University will apply appropriate technologies and resources to support teaching
learning, research, creativity, scholarship, and service.

Rationale: Technology should support the pedagogy, learning goals, research, creativity, scholarship, and service that remain at the core of professional needs and development.

D. The university will provide appropriate technologies and resources to enhance access
to support services.

Rationale: The university needs an infrastructure to support services for its students, faculty and staff, including human resources functions, e-student services and integrated business functions.

Diversity and Social Justice

Social justice and diversity are mutually reinforcing concepts. Diversity relates to the empowerment and inclusion of all peoples and results in the enrichment of the human experience and the continued viability of the planet’s ecosystems. Social justice is best exemplified through the ideals and values espoused by a democratic society; it is achieved though systems that enable and support individual empowerment, the fair and equitable distribution of resources, and socially responsible leadership committed to advancing social change. A foundation of diversity and social justice builds and optimizes organizational strength and effectiveness by capitalizing on the value and abilities every individual has to offer; it is founded on management and leadership practices that assume the general goodness of our humanity.

To bring value to an organization, diversity must embrace difference of all sorts, including race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs, to name a few. A multitude of divergent and complementary perspectives is necessary for a creative, stimulating and effective atmosphere and is absolutely essential to the growth and vitality of a public university. Only through the expression of many viewpoints can students learn to think critically for themselves and participate fully in a democratic society.

An institution that values social justice is structured according to democratic organizing principles, empowers the voice of those with little community influence or societal power, and actively engages in dialogical teaching methods and administrative leadership practices.

1. The University will strive to create and maintain a welcoming environment for students, faculty, staff, and administration from all walks of life. This includes maintaining a rich environment that models respect for difference and providing a supportive and nurturing climate for all university students, faculty, staff and administrators of color.

Discussion and Rationale: The University’s hiring and recruiting practices over the past five years have attracted an increasing number of student, faculty and administrators of color. Institutional data continues to suggest, however, that more work needs to be done to ensure the retention and success of these individuals. Programs such as the antiracism diversity training recently approved by Faculty Senate and President’s Council (2002) may help to create a more welcoming environment. Creating a more “people-centered”, policy-friendly organization and nurturing environment would do much to improve the campus climate and address the concerns raised in recent environmental studies. Given the transactional focus of the campus data systems, additional data will likely need to be collected to inform institutional decision-making—both via satisfaction surveys and exit interviews--so that the campus better understands what dimensions need to be addressed to improve its environment.

A. The University will increase the diversity profile of students, faculty, staff, and administration throughout the university, especially those who are disproportionately underrepresented at the current time (American Indian, African American, Latino, Jewish, and people with disabilities).

Discussion: The campus data system suggests that SCSU has increased faculty of color representation from 10% to 14.5% and the international student population from 450 to 900 students during the past 8 years. The campus has also hired a fair number of persons of color to serve in leadership positions, most notably the institution’s president. Retention and representation, however, continues to be an issue for the campus. On average, retention of students of color (63%) lags that of majority students (73%). Student of color graduation rates also lag majority students (29% vs. 40%, 1995 IPEDS 6 Year Graduation Rates). Further, student of color representation is primarily Asian, with Asian students accounting for over half of all students of color. Student of color representation (excluding white international students) is approximately 6% of the total campus body, which is 4% below the average student of color participation in the State of Minnesota (source: HESO, 2003). Faculty and staff of color are also primarily Asian and concentrated in faculty and high-level administrative positions. Additionally, faculties of color tend to be represented in only certain departments (such as BCIS, Engineering and Computer Science). Broader racial representation is needed across campus, across disciplines and across types of positions.

Finally, virtually all of the institution’s students are from a few counties in Minnesota or Wisconsin. The NCHEMS consultants hired to support strategic planning warned that the institution is not well positioned to service future growth markets, such as students of color and/or adult learners (the latter population was only 13% of all undergraduates in Fall 2001).

Strategies that might lead to a more representative societal mix include the recruitment of students, faculty and staff of color, and students from other geographic regions of the United States; the expansion of services offered to “adult learners”; the selection and training of campus recruitment committees to look beyond traditional criteria used to hire and/or admit (recruitment and retention for academic distinction plan under the academic distinction priority strategic goal); directing the Affirmative Action Office to communicate recruitment and hiring results, and supporting search committees to hire diverse employees.

B. The University will examine and revise, where appropriate, the institutional policies and practices that disenfranchise and marginalize students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Discussion and Rationale: Recently, the University had four independent, off-campus consultants/firms examine the culture and climate (JCRC, EEOC, Nichols, and Rankin studies). All four studies seemed to suggest that underrepresented groups have experienced some sort of harassment or had other types of negative experiences while working or studying here. Further, the increasing need for mediation suggests that systemic problems are responsible for the escalation of conflict in many areas of the campus. Currently, however, there are no avenues for changing policies and procedures unless they violate some collective bargaining, contractual or statutory requirement. Consequently, mechanisms need to be explored for both investigating complaints and resolving them. One-way might be to expand the current mediation program and/or by training members of the campus community to address and resolve conflict in a pro-active and positive manner.

Many positive changes have been made in recent years to the University curriculum to support the development of multicultural perspectives and a greater understanding of and appreciation for social justice. Some have criticized the campus, however, for failing to “walk its talk.” Additional in-service opportunities might be offered to promote the personal growth of faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure that staff persons are modeling the values instructed in the classroom.

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