St. Cloud State University
Strategic Planning Committee Minutes
September 13, 2002, 2:00 p.m. Mississippi Room, Atwood Center

(Minutes approved by Strategic Planning Committee 9/27/02)
Download minutes [PDF: 4 pages]

Members Present: Theresia Fisher, Edward Addo, Bonnie Hedin, Judith Kilborn, Glen Palm, Karen Thoms, Pat Krueger, Mary Soroko, Addie Turkowski, Chad Silvertson, Guihua Li, Brenda Wentworth, Susan Motin

Members Absent: Bassey Eyo, Andrew Larkin, John Palmer, John Burgeson, Ali Malekzadeh, Joe Opatz, Diana Burlison, Lisa Foss

Support Staff: Jackie Zieglmeier

Guest: Michael Spitzer, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Michael Spitzer's Comments:
Provost Spitzer stated that he saw the work of the Strategic Planning Committee as providing an important and valuable service to the University-to set the direction and the specifics of the direction the committee would like to see the university move in the coming year and beyond. He referenced several initiatives that appear as items on today's meeting agenda and provided a context for some.

Strategic Planning Retreat (August 19-20) - Discussed at this retreat were a number of different kinds of plans prepared. The Chancellor's Advisory Committee prepared strategic planning directives for the MnSCU System. Subsequently, the Chancellor prepared a working plan. SCSU prepared an institutional work plan that was drawn from the other documents mentioned and the work of the Strategic Planning Committee from the previous year. The August Strategic Planning Retreat identified and set goals:

  1. Academic Distinction
  2. Improving Retention

    This goal falls separately as well as within the context of academic distinction. SCSU is not currently retaining students as well as it has in the past. Our six-year graduation rate is 40%-41%. The national average is 46% for comprehensive institutions like ours. Michael Spitzer stated he would like to see SCSU's retention rate above the national average. He also said that the primary goal of the Strategic Planning Committee, Academic Affairs Council and the Enrollment Management Committee is to reinforce each other's strategies to improve retention and graduation rates. Retention involves academic excellence and treating students well. One of the main reasons students leave is that they cannot get the classes they need.

    If we can increase our retention of students into the sophomore, junior and senior year, we can decreas our dependency on attracting a large freshmen class and will not be scrambling at the last minute to provide
    freshmen classes. Instead, we will be able to address the needs of sophomores, juniors and seniors by offering a broader array of classes at those levels. Other committees will be discussing retention as well.

    There needs to be cross-discussion between committees to develop priorities. We need to determine why students leave and who leaves to develop strategies to retain those students. KPIs (key performance indicators) need to be established to measure and evaluate existing and succeeding goals.

    Theresia Fisher gave her impression of the August retreat. She felt it was a positive step to include Strategic Planning Committee co-chairs. Dennis Jones and Ken Mortimer of NCHEMS facilitated the retreat. There was extremely broad representation for the various units on campus - every bargaining unit was represented. There was Faculty Association and Student Government representation in addition to deans, President's Council as well as other excluded managers. The retreat underlined the importance of finding out what the issues are, having valid data and getting a picture of what enrollments are. Part of the retreat discussed the funding formula. Work continues to make the formula more equitable for MnSCU institutions. A new allocation model was proposed last year but it was not fully implemented by the legislature. One of the things that the retreat did for Theresia was identify that the institutional community needs to have more information about strategic planning and the current plan itself. Tried to the idea of retention is the area of core courses and the resources required to deliver them. We have an ethical duty to provide courses for students. The Enrollment Management Committee now is under Academic Affairs. They will work in conjunction with Academic Affairs Council and Strategic Planning.

Michael Spitzer said the retreat identified that the primary focus of SCSU will continue to be the areas identified by the Strategic Plan:

  • Academic Excellence
  • Social Justice and Diversity - we, as a university, need to develop an understanding of what that means and to
    have dialog how social justice and diversity influence the courses we offer; what it means in terms of
    leadership and personnel decisions.
  • Community (Service Community / Community Relations)
  • Technology

He also stated that there will be ongoing broad discussion in several areas. President's Council will be expanded to establish a University Council which will have representation from all of the bargaining units and Student Government. This council will meet once each month with its members communicating to the university at large.

Committee Role and Communication to University Community:
In the past, the role of the Strategic Planning Committee has not been clear-particularly with changes in the administration-how much carryforward there would be and how the strategic plan would fit into each new President's plan. Michael Spitzer replied that the appropriate role for the committee is to be an advisory committee to the Provost.

A question was raised about the decentralization of strategic planning with each of the colleges doing their own thing.
The committee also asked Michael Spitzer if the Chancellor's work plan directs the SCSU strategic planning process. He replied that the plans do overlap-it is hard to say where one ends and the other begins. The Chancellor's plan is broad. Putting the Chancellor's plan in operation can be achieved on our campus. The campus plans will not be in conflict but will fall under the umbrella of the Chancellor's plan. The college plans will conform to the university strategic plan and the university strategic plan will conform to the MnSCU plan.

The committee asked the Provost if a meeting between Academic Affairs Council and the Strategic Planning Committee would be beneficial to see how the strategic plan correlates with college strategic plans. He replied that perhaps college forums might be a way to do this-there is a need to communicate more broadly. SCSU list serve and Strategic Planning website were ways identified to communicate with the campus community.

Michael Spitzer stated that the university will more consciously be looking at the budget as a plan and tying the budget plan to the strategic plan so that decisions on where to spend money are related to the strategic plan. Two elements connect the budget to the strategic plan: KPIs and incentive based funding.

Committee members said that they were optimistic after hearing Provost Spitzer's comments. They felt the move to link the budget to the strategic plan is a giant step to give the strategic plan meaning and consequence. Many members of the Strategic Planning Committee are long-time SCSU employees and they stated it was good to hear from the administration the same thoughts they have had for 15 and more years. An analogy was used: A bucket with a hole in the bottom is like our attempts to continue to add large numbers of freshmen students when we cannot stop the drain of sophomore, junior and senior students who leave SCSU because their needs are not met.

The committee reviewed a handout prepared by Guihua Li - "Fall New Entering Students Profile and Retention Statistics for Fall 1999-2001 Cohorts." Students leave the university for academic reasons (they are dismissed or there is a mismatch between what they need and the university has to offer); for financial reasons; for personal/social reasons (this category is often used when the student simply does not want to identify more specific reasons). The National Student Satisfaction Survey can be a resource to determine why students leave.

Action: Theresia will bring Student Satisfaction Survey results to the next meeting.

Provost Spitzer stated that the university is working to develop a first-year experience that will create cohort groups/learning communities. When students feel connected to other people a bonding takes place and they are more likely to be retained.

Action: Guihua will forward to the committee list serv information on strategies for retention and first-
year experience.

Committee members stated that the Service sub-committee last year did focus on retention. It was stated that if SCSU can stabilize enrollment (i.e. focus more on keeping students here), SCSU will better be able to weather low demographic trends when they occur.

Motion: That there be forums within colleges to talk about the goals of strategic planning and how those goals
relate to individual department and college plans and that these discussions also focus on retention. (The
motion was seconded and passed unanimously.)

(Noted that there should be strategies to have conversations in areas other than the colleges - examples:
TLTR Committee on technology; Student Life and Development areas on the first-year experience.)

(Also noted: The committee will want to look at the other themes. Retention will not likely be the only
topic we want to address-it interfaces with other themes, but it may be too limited a focus.)

Motion: That Theresia draft an e-mail statement to the university community at-large communicating: 1) the
Strategic Planning Committee is now under the purview of the Provost; 2) the budget plan will be tied
to the strategic plan (as stated in the St. Cloud Times article); 3) an NCHEMS facilitated retreat was
held in August & list participants; 4) list the four focus areas recommended by NCHEMS and
identify them as the themes of the strategic plan 5) one of the roles of the Strategic Planning
Committee is to foster communication about the strategic plan and its implementation. (The
motion was seconded and passed unanimously.)

Strategic Themes:

Motion: That Theresia send to the Faculty Association the latest version of the strategic themes. (The
motion was seconded and passed unanimously.)

Strategic Planning Website:

Action: Theresia Fisher will meet with the webmaster, Sara Grachek.

The Strategic Planning Committee has used sub-committees in the past to focus on particular areas. Sub-committees might best manage the various aspects of retention. Due to the lack of time today for further discussion, the committee agreed to brainstorm this topic over e-mail.

Action: Theresia will start this process by sending an e-mail to the committee. The committee can converse
with all members simply be hitting the "Reply to All" button.

Other - Attendance at Strategic Planning Committee Meetings:

Action: Theresia will do follow-up with members who were not at today's meeting. Some members
conveyed that they would not be at today's meeting; others did not. Small attendance numbers
have been a problem in the past. Having a quorum is necessary to conduct business.

Other -- Last Year's Strategic Planning Report

Action: Theresia will provide copies to committee members.