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Washington State University
Faculty Senate Senate Response to Draft Plan

Senate Response to Draft Plan

Faculty Senate summary comments about WSU draft system strategic plan

The knowledge enterprise (including developing new knowledge and sharing knowledge through teaching and outreach) is the core of the university. In order to develop a strong strategic plan, the key components of the knowledge enterprise on which WSU will focus must be identified and prioritized; we must share a common mission and vision. Excellence will require that the entire WSU system be organized around strategically investing in those priorities. The strategic plan must include how WSU will track and accomplish this investment.

Once we have identified our key priorities, system-level plans must include:

  1. Restructuring the multi-campus system to eliminate administrative redundancy and free up resources to invest in the knowledge enterprise
  2. Developing a transparent system-wide budget model that supports our priorities, is informed by the Fiscal Health Advisory Committee, and is based on accurate cost of instruction (Enrollment-Based Budgeting)
  3. Hiring an expert in enrollment management into the provost’s office
  4. Creating a capital needs ranking system across WSU that supports the priorities as identified in the strategic plan

Current system projects that could be included in the draft plan are:

  1. Developing system-level planning to support centers and institutes
  2. Communicating our $2B campaign’s goals and objectives to our stakeholders, including alumni and the broader community.
  3. Improving government relations in terms of establishing budget priorities, Extension funding, and legislation that impacts WSU.
  4. Moving to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) with Work Day.

In addition, new system projects could include:

  1. Developing a system environmental scan process
  2. Developing a common process that helps campuses connect with the communities in which they reside
  3. Developing a system-level approach to growing and managing core facilities
  4. Developing a model that defines common and fair HRS practices across all campuses and colleges

Many faculty commented that the current draft’s goals/objectives/possible strategies/future statements lack specifics concerning “how-tos.” Because of this, along with a history of top-down planning, faculty for the most part remain skeptical. This could be addressed by focusing on system goals from which a common structure could be defined to provide guidance to units as they develop their strategic plans (and associated goals/objectives/strategies/tactics). A common sub-system planning structure would enable college and campus leadership to identify (and support) possible synergies, and to outline a process to mediate conflicts among distinct unit plans’ goals/objectives/strategies/tactics, when necessary.

Several faculty members commented on an excess of emphasis surrounding assumptions. Assumptions are not evidence/data-informed. Rather than assumptions, we suggest outlining a process of data gathering in terms of environmental scanning. This type of scanning is based on a logical collection of data coupled with expert analysis. Environmental scanning would benefit all campuses and colleges and facilitate good system and unit decision making.

The language in this plan is trendy. Phrases such as “big audacious goals” should be reconsidered. Simple, accurate, and specific language would better represent us as a university. Entering some of the current draft’s strategic planning phrases into Google produces exact or similar hits. Some statements in the current draft invite skepticism. For example, on page 11 – One WSU the sentence “Some of these principles are operative while others describe operational aspirations.” That clause was in reference to inaccurate statements like “WSU proactively uses data in decision-making…” Rather than relying on a one-sentence clause, we suggest sorting these system statements into categories such as “what we’re doing now,” “what we intend to do within one year,” and “what we intend to do within five years.” We also suggest that sections that don’t directly relate to a systems strategic plan (WSU history, letter from the president, strategic planning jargon, appendices) be relocated to the strategic plan website. This will enhance readability.

The document states it was produced from a collective vision that included Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness Council (SPIEC). Greg Crouch reports that SPIEC members were informed but had only minor input in the first draft. Four concept teams were charged with reviewing strategic plan survey data in terms of

  • Research, Innovation, and Creativity
  • Student Experience
  • Outreach, Extension, Service, and Engagement
  • Institutional Effectiveness, and Infrastructure

These teams had limited faculty participation and were given too short a time to adequately review input from our land grant symposium and our survey data. Faculty who provided feedback for this report feel strongly that their input was symbolic. Faculty also commented they felt over-surveyed, which is apparent in the reduction of feedback over time (see below).

Overall faculty participation/feedback

Method of input Number of faculty participants Details
Land Grant Symposium exact faculty participation unknown Data not collected
Initial summer 2019 n=86 Included chairs, directors, and faculty
All university survey n = 611 Data not fully analyzed
Visioning Conference n = 7 By headcount on Pullman campus
Strategic Plan Draft Survey n=92 67 of the 92 faculty users responded to all questions
Emails sent to senate leadership n = 36 feedback about draft plan
Marked-up pdf documents sent to senate leadership n = 7 feedback about draft plan

Recommendations

  • Write the Pullman plan to focus on CAHNRS, CAS, Carson, Murrow, Education, Voiland, Vet-Med, and Honors. The Spokane plan would include Nursing, Medicine, and Pharmacy. These plans should be in the same format with the same structure in order to allow leaders and the faculty to compare college goals/objectives/strategies. Such a strategy would enable communication between college and campus leaders.
  • Extension, a critical system-wide unit, was mentioned often in faculty feedback. In conferring with Extension faculty, our system is often stymied by an outdated structure and constrained by county, state, and federal contracts. Further, Extension is being asked to respond to state issues beyond agricultural outreach/research but because of outdated structures, it can’t innovate. To move forward, the role of Extension needs to be analyzed with the same vigor as we’re giving roles and responsibilities and it will take time – but the intent can be stated as a system goal.
  • Empower faculty to participate in a new authentic system plan that outlines our accomplishments and is honest about our challenges (One WSU). Senate could provide a platform for faculty participate apart from surveys and all-day conferences. This would avoid over surveying and scheduling conflicts that prevent faculty from attending conferences. A plan built on this foundation would highlight our values, provide a structure for unit plans, empower deans, and make us all proud. We have the collective expertise to make this lift.