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Strategic Planning for Your Center - Overview

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 6 years, 8 months ago

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Strategic Planning for Your Center

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download

Most colleges and universities have a strategic vision and plan (often tied to accreditation and broader efforts) at any given time. In this process, many units and academic departments are often involved in developing specific plans for their units that tie to that strategic plan. Yet, centers for community engagement in and of themselves may not be asked to develop and manage to a specific strategic plan – even when their work is referenced in the institutional plan and intended outcomes. 


The strategic planning process can also a be a helpful process for a center and Bonner Program, as well as institutional aims for community engagement and engaged learning.  The process itself is highly collaborative, allowing participants to share their knowledge, experience, and insight in ways that are woven together to articulate a long-range (3-5 year) vision and set of goals.  We have incorporated visual planning techniques that have been used by other institutions of higher education to generate strategic plans for community and civic engagement.


The process is designed to incorporate the viewpoints of various stakeholders––administrators, faculty members, students, alumni, and partners––in ways that foster integration and focus. Even if your campus and/or office already do strategic planning, we believe that the time can be well-spent, especially to connect your center's work with broader institutional mission, vision, and aims for the next few years.  The process can help develop a more comprehensive and well-aligned understanding of what is going on in your community and on campus, your assets and long-term visions, and will inform our work together.


At the campuses where we have already conducted the planning, we have found that the process helps catalyze momentum, and has even helped center staff to garner additional resources and support for their existing work.  For example, at Saint Mary's College of California, additional resources and funds were allocated to the center after the process (as support from senior administrators increased), and it helped the center staff articulate a stronger focus on its ability to do faculty development for a regional and even national audience.    


Best Practices for a Strategic Planning Process and Plan

  1. Engage a broad base of constituents and make sure to get buy in. This team may include:


    • Senior leaders
    • Administrators and Program Staff
    • Faculty
    • Community Partners
    • Students
    • Alumni 


     2. Lay out a clear process, ideally engaging facilitator(s) who can present and guide that process.

    • Check this process against scholarship and recommendations (here and otherwise).
    • Be transparent with those involved and those to whom accountability is involved.


     3. When planning for a center or Bonner Program, it is wise to link the process and content with the broader institutional strategic plan and some of its core objectives.

    • Think strategically about how to work in collaboration with senior leaders to achieve this aim.
    • An ideal end result of such links might be connections between the objectives in the center strategic plan and a related plank in the institutional plan.


     4. Invest time and energy into getting the center plan fully developed, including fairly detailed implementation plans for each objective and measurable outcomes.

    • Set aside the time for more than a few meetings.
    • Delegate sub-sections of the strategic plan and objectives to relevant team members. 


      5. Share the plan publicly, for instance on the center website, in meetings, and in other ways that keep it a working document.

    • This helps to also claim credit for objectives and strategies that are achieved.
    • Revisit the plan and make changes as necessary.