Over the next few weeks, work will begin on developing Cal State Fullerton’s next strategic plan, Fullerton Forward 2024-2029. The goal is to collect, analyze and integrate the voices, ideas and wisdom of Titan family and supporters.
Su Swarat, senior associate vice president for institutional effectiveness and planning, will lead the efforts to provide a framework for the university’s work over the next five years. Here, she answers some frequently asked questions.
Why is a strategic plan so important? Why are they done every five years?
A strategic plan is a guiding document for an organization, defining the goals and directions for the organization, detailing the strategies to achieve the goals, and often, identifying metrics to track the progress of the plan. It is a blueprint built upon the collective vision of the campus community to define the priorities of the institution for the next plan period. At CSUF, we have implemented two five-year strategic plans (2013-2018 and 2018-2023), and we are launching a series of activities to prepare and transition into the next plan — Fullerton Forward 2024-2029.
Five years may seem like a short period in an institution’s history. However, the pace of change in higher education and in the world has made it necessary for us to be agile. We need to be willing to adjust our priorities to cope with and thrive in our fast-changing world. Looking at the 2018-2023 strategic plan period, much has changed — not to mention the pandemic. We are at a critical point where our current state, our future directions, and our tactics to get there need to be reevaluated and redefined.
When developing a strategic plan, what are some of the critical elements? How will this plan be different from previous plans? Will it have a different focus?
Campus participation is key to the success of a strategic plan, both before and after it is developed and launched. We are intentionally taking a data-driven approach in developing the 2024-2029 strategic plan, spending the spring 2023 semester listening to and gathering campus voices, ideas, inspirations and wisdom. All the information (or “data”) collected will be thoroughly examined, systematically analyzed, and carefully synthesized to form the foundation of the strategic plan. A strategic plan development committee, soon to be appointed by the president, will use this information to identify the goals and strategies, to define metrics and progress indicators, and to update the mission and values of the institution, if warranted. This plan is being developed for all CSUF stakeholders, so it is critical for all Titans to participate, to make their voices heard, and to ensure their ideas and aspirations are reflected in the next strategic plan.
What information will be gathered over the next year while the campus is preparing the new strategic plan?
The data-drive approach is a two-way street. Through a series of review and reflection activities over the next few months, the campus will receive information about progress we have made during the past strategic plan period, the environmental outlook of the higher education and broader environment, and institutional and system data that define the context within which we operate. Similarly, campus feedback will be gathered through these review and reflection activities to distill the collective vision of the campus — what we do well, what we need to improve upon, what our aspirations are and how we will get there. The more data we can gather through this process, the more comprehensive the analysis will be, and the more representative the strategic plan will be as a guiding blueprint for the entire campus.
How will faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders be involved?
Several emails have been sent to the campus communities, inviting faculty, staff and students to participate through multiple venues. Each month, there will be a theme — “Review” (what we have accomplished in February), “Vision” (our dreams and aspirations in March) and “Reflection” (our goals and strategies for the next five years in April). There are in-person forums, virtual forums, walk-by feedback opportunities at various campus locations and individual feedback opportunities. For more details of the events, visit planning.fullerton.edu. PLEASE PARTICIPATE – REMEMBER WITHOUT YOUR INPUT, YOUR VOICE MAY NOT BE REFLECTED IN THE NEXT STRATEGIC PLAN!
What will happen at the community forums? Will the information that is gathered be shared?
As mentioned earlier, relevant information for each month’s forum will be shared with participants ahead of time and provided at the event. The forums provide opportunities for CSUF constituencies across divisions and colleges to have cordial conversations with each other, share their points of view, calibrate their ideas and collectively provide feedback toward the next strategic plan development. The information collected will be analyzed and shared so the campus can see what our collective wisdom is.
Are there any challenges that the plan will address?
With the upcoming presidential leadership change, some colleagues have asked whether we should postpone the development of the strategic plan. I think, on the contrary, this transition heightens how critical it is that we review, reflect and renew our plan now. The strategic plan is not one person’s plan. It is the plan for our entire institution. A strategic plan built upon the input of the entire campus will ensure stability, keep us focused on our priorities and provide a solid anchor for the campus operation no matter what changes come our way.