Steering committee creates task force for strategic planning

FSU’s strategic planning steering committee held an open forum on Jan. 25 to discuss the University’s vision and supporting goals for the next five years.

Steering committee co-chairs Rita Colucci, chief of staff and general counsel, and Judith Otto, associate professor of geography presented FSU’s emerging vision for the future and task forces designed to work on strategies to achieve those goals.

Colucci said, “As a result of looking at tons of information … we came up with what we thought the vision for the University should be.”

In five years, Colucci said FSU will be committed to fostering each individual student’s success and providing a life-changing experience for all students who commit to taking advantage of all that is available and offered. Additionally, FSU being a vibrant intellectual environment where excellence, creativity, innovation, scholarship and leadership flourish, and FSU will be a key player in the MetroWest area.

An advantage to FSU is its location, Colucci said. “We are here at MetroWest. There are a lot of big, reputable, well-run companies around here. We want to take advantage of our relationships with those companies.”

She added, “We don’t just want to be that little University up on the hill that people are always surprised at how beautiful it is when they finally come up here. We want to be a player in MetroWest. We want MetroWest to know us. We want to know MetroWest.”

According to Colucci, the plan for this spring semester is to develop strategies around the University’s vision and goals. She added, “We are in the process of forming task forces to work on those strategies.”

The committee plans on forming three task forces to support three overarching goals of academic distinction and student success, inclusive excellence and organizational effectiveness, and relationships and resources.

The task forces will be “comprised of faculty, staff and students if they want to join us. From now until spring break, those task forces will be working on mini strategic plans around each one of those goals,” Colucci said.

She added, “The way that the goals were written we hoped was broad enough so they could encompass areas that you feel need to be looked at.”

To devise the University’s goals and vision, the steering committee “looked at information that we had … and did a whole bunch of surveys,” Colucci said.

A “visioning questionnaire” prepared by consultants surveyed 22 members of the executive leader team, trustees and the planning committee; 48 faculty members took the all-faculty survey; 89 staff members took the all-staff survey; 265 recent alumni took the alumni outreach survey; 265 undergraduate students and 54 graduate students took the student outreach survey.   

The committee composed a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis with the information gathered by the survey. The steering committee’s PowerPoint addressed and emphasized the University’s strengths and weaknesses, according to Colucci.

The steering committee also looked at the University’s mission statement.

Otto said the mission statement “reflects the mission of the institution, but perhaps is not … as punchy and succinct as it could be.”

According to Otto, President F. Javier Cevallos has “charged all of us with taking a second look at the mission statement … and our expectation is that it’s going to eventually become a log that’s going to governance. Then, the entire community will have the ability to weigh in on it and in fact get involved in how it would be re-crafted.

Colucci said, “We do this strategic planning process with absolutely an eye toward being realistic and being realistic about the resources we have to support whatever plans we hatch.”

Richard Allen, history professor, said, “I’m a little bit concerned when I hear them talk about student-centered. The reason I say that is because, in this discussion, we are overlooking the fact that, ‘Who are the crucial people that make this place work?’ and it’s the faculty. Without the faculty, without the support they are given, we can’t do our jobs.”

He added, “We can’t improve the student experience here if we focus only on the students. So, I think if we are going to be successful in this, we’ve got to get away from this kind of simplistic, compartmentalizing of what we are doing. The approach has to be holistic because otherwise we will fail.”

Scott Greenberg, associate vice president and dean of continuing education, said, “I think it’s the students who are essential to our institution, because without the students … I would not be here. You would not be here. None us would be here.”

He said, “We are living in times where things have changed. Students have many options for higher education. They can do it online. They can do it at various universities. … It is the student who is going to make up his or her own mind with the help of his or her parent or significant other whether he or she will attend Framingham State University and let us not forget that.”

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