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Columbus State University 2013-2018 Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

Developing CSU's New Five-Year Strategic Plan (2013-18)

A Strategic Planning Commission was formed in the Spring of 2012 to review the University's current plan and develop a five-year plan to be implemented beginning FY 2013-14. The Commission reviewed the university's current plan and researched the current environment by analyzing data from several internal and external sources. The Committee then developed a SWOT analysis and sought input for the plan via a series of focus groups and surveys distributed to faculty, staff, alumni, and students. A strategic planning website offered additional opportunities for faculty and staff input.

Based on the research conducted by the Commission, CSU's primary strengths were determined to be its location, its comparative value, its focus on teaching excellence, experiential learning opportunities (such as the Study Abroad, Servant Leadership, and UTeach programs), cultural enrichment opportunities (to include two campuses and several outreach centers), and public-private partnerships ("town-gown" relations). CSU's important weaknesses identified by the SWOT analysis included low student retention/graduation rates and a lack of on-campus student engagement. The SWOT analysis also identified several opportunities and potential threats in the immediate environment, to include the growth in the use of technology in higher education, which has opened up new instructional formats (online courses) and has increased competition in the local area resulting in more educational options for students. With the decline in federal and state funding and the concurrent rise in college tuition in the last decade, the cost of higher education has become a major concern of the general population. It is clear that one of the main threats to higher education in the United States is the decline in its perceived value. To sustain organizational growth, the University will need to communicate its value in comparison to other universities across the country. Student success is a key factor in increasing the perceived value of an educational experience. Making improvements in the area of student success will not be easy and will require a strategic focus, substantial investments, and a significant effort.

Improving student success alone is not sufficient to move CSU forward. Moving the University forward will also require a focus on organizational stewardship and investments in areas that capitalize on emerging opportunities. Of course, our employees are key to the success of this plan, so we need to continue to focus on issues that impact faculty and staff satisfaction and retention. Additionally, successful stewardship strategies should include investments in sustainability programs that can reduce the University's long-term operating costs and lessen its impact on the environment.

The following strategic plan presents a two-pronged approach to accomplishing the University's vision. The first strategic direction focuses on improving student success by attracting more student scholars, engaging students both academically and socially, employing creative instruction, and fostering student well-being. This strategic focus confronts CSU's primary weaknesses, which threaten the core mission of the university. It is imperative to address student success first since it will have the biggest impact on the university's long-term vitality. The second strategic direction focuses on sustaining the University's growth by enhancing in-demand and innovative programs, improving faculty/staff retention, and advancing organizational stewardship. The second strategic focus builds upon CSU's strengths to enable the university to capitalize on new opportunities.

This plan incorporates goals and strategies recommended by the University's Facilities Planning Committee (hereafter called the "Sasaki Plan") and the University System of Georgia's "Complete College Georgia" Plan (hereafter "CCG"). Under each of the two strategic foci we have rank-ordered strategic priorities according to their importance to accomplishing the University's five-year vision. For assessment purposes, benchmark measures were developed for the strategies contained in this plan and are listed beginning on page 10 of this document.