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Stephen F. Austin State University is a comprehensive institution dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, creative work, and service. Through the personal attention of our faculty and staff, we engage our students in a learner-centered environment and offer opportunities to prepare for the challenges of living in the global community.
Guided by both our mission and our collective vision of the preferred future of SFA, we will engage in strategic initiatives over the next eight years to reach our goals.
After hearing from more than 2,100 people during 2014-15, the SFA Strategic Planning Team developed this shared picture of our preferred future...
 Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) will have a distinct and stellar reputation based on the transformational learning experiences we provide for all our students in an exceptional setting. We will not use the term "transformational" lightly. We will be deeply committed to providing high impact, experiential learning for all SFA students.
 Our students will be engaged and empowered. They will know that we care about them and that we have high expectations for their performance and success. Our students will graduate with the marketable skills and qualities necessary to be leaders in their respective fields. Employers will seek out our students because of a demonstrated reputation of a solid work ethic. Their moral compass will be strong and true.
 We will expand our reach and increase our enrollment, not merely for the sake of growth, but because we are committed to our responsibility to the people of Texas to prepare more citizens to lead our state into the future. By seeking and accepting diverse students with a strong potential for success and providing them the resources and experiences to capitalize on their promise, the percentage of SFA students graduating also will increase.
 We will achieve financial sustainability by meeting tough choices head-on and making smart decisions about the future of the university. We will diversify our revenue streams, allocate our resources strategically, increase our private funding, and achieve meaningful enrollment growth. We will invest in our people and achieve appropriate levels of compensation, reward, and recognition. Professional development for faculty and staff will be seen as an investment and not an expense because our people are the greatest asset we have.
 We will be an innovative university. We will reach our students where they are and prepare them for life-long learning and career responsiveness in the twenty-first century. We will use cutting-edge teaching techniques and advanced research methods both inside and outside the classroom. We will be a forward-thinking university that not only is responsive to the realities of higher education but also is a leader in academia. Technology will be appropriately and sensibly infused throughout the campus in our classrooms and operations. It will facilitate-not drive-how we teach and work together.
 Our campus culture will be open, collaborative, and engaged. We will have an energetic and respectful workplace where civility, inclusivity, and accountability are guiding principles for everyone. We will become well known for the high quality of our faculty and staff. People will feel valued as employees of the university and work hard to sustain the sense of community that distinguishes us. Communication will be robust, transparent, and trusted.
 Our brand and identity will be authentic, clear, and understood by all our stakeholders. People will know who we are, what we contribute to the local, regional, and state communities, and what matters to us as a university. We will be known as trusted partners. We will leverage the strengths of our stakeholders, including community colleges, businesses and industries, K-12 institutions, and government entities. These partnerships will enable us to provide a stellar learning experience for our students and contribute to the quality of life of everyone we touch.
While the responsibility for striving to reach the vision we have collectively determined belongs to all of us, to facilitate the implementation of the plan President Pattillo has assigned each vice-president as "owner" of one of the four key strategic goals:
- Attracting and Supporting a High-Quality Faculty and Staff: Mr. Danny Gallant
- Academic and Co-curricular Innovation: Dr. Steve Westbrook
- University Culture: Dr. Steve Bullard
- Increasing Connections: Ms. Jill Still
These owners are accountable for the development and implementation of strategies and action plans addressing their assigned goal. To be successful, each goal owner will need the help and support of key administrators, faculty, staff and students. If you are asked by one of the goal owners or a member of their team to collaborate on a strategy or action plan please do your part. With the expertise on our campus, combined with good advice from others, we will be able to meet the challenges of preparing SFA for the future and achieving the vision to which we all aspire.
How did we get here?
is what we called the five-phase collaborative strategic planning process that informed the development of our next strategic plan.
The process we will employ over the next several months is termed "collaborative strategic planning." This planning method has been developed by Dr. Patrick Sanaghan as he has shared his expertise on strategic planning, leadership development and facilitation techniques with more than 100 colleges and universities over the past 25 years. This five-phase process is designed to meaningfully engage University stakeholders with the goal of creating a shared future vision for the institution.
Phase 5: Goals Conference - March 6, 2015
Phase Five concluded on March 6 with a day-long Goals Conference. During this workshop, members of the Strategic Planning Team (SPT) were joined by almost 30 colleagues from across the campus representing departments and areas that will have a key role in implementation of the plan that is under development. At the end of the day the group had identified more than 40 potential goals, with 16 of these ranked as top contenders.
Now the President's Cabinet is working with the results of the Goals Conference and refining these aspirations so additional feedback can be gained from the planning team before a draft is presented to the Board of Regents in April.
Here are some pictures of the group during the Goals Conference:
Phase 4: Vision Conference - January 30, 2015
After hearing from more than 2,100 people, surfacing the prevalent themes, and developing concise concept papers on each topic, the SPT hosted a diverse group of internal and external stakeholders on January 30, 2015, for a Vision Conference. The goal of this day-long conference was the creation of a shared vision for a "preferred future." Participants included representatives from the following groups:
- Academic Administrators
- Academic Deans
- Board of Regents
- Business Leaders from Dallas, Houston, Tyler, Longview and Nacogdoches
- City Government
- Civic Leaders
- Community Colleges - Angelina College, Tyler Junior College, Kilgore College
- Graduate Students
- President's Cabinet
- Undergraduate Students
During this day-long exercise, the SPT continued to narrow the mass of input we have received into more concise elements that helped us develop as aspirational statement of our preferred future. You can see that Vision Statement here. This Vision Statement will be foundational as we approach the goal-setting phase of planning process.
Here are some pictures of the Strategic Planning Team working with a group of internal and external stakeholders during the Vision Conference on January 30, 2015:
Phases 2 & 3: Engagement and Data-Gathering (Sept. 19 - Nov. 20) / Sense-Making (Nov. 21)
Over a nine week period last fall, the Strategic Planning Team (SPT) engaged with more than 2,100 people (see Timeline and Progress). The purpose of this engagement was to hear what these internal and external stakeholders believed was most important for us to consider as we developed the next strategic plan. A huge amount of input was collected. To manage this, the SPT conducted a day-long "Sense-making Workshop" facilitated by Dr. Pat Sanaghan to identify the themes that were most prevalent so we could focus our efforts.
In broad strokes, six strategic themes emerged. The SPT divided into six writing teams and developed concept papers on each of these themes.
[Note on Concept Papers: The goal was to create an non-academic paper for lay persons that is informative and doesn't try and steer the reader in a specific direction or have an agenda of some kind. It helped translate the data we had received through the engagement and data-gathering process for the participants of the Vision Conference.]
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