Stephen F. Austin State University

The Next Strategic Plan

After hearing from more than 2,100 people, surfacing the prevalent themes, and developing concise concept papers on each topic, the SFA Strategic Planning Team hosted a diverse group of internal and external stakeholders on January 30, 2015, for a Vision Conference. During this conference, participants spent a great deal of time understanding the issues facing the institution, listening to one another's unique perspectives, and having cross-boundary conversations. The day culminated with the group creating a shared picture of our preferred future. This document gives narrative to that aspirational vision...

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.

Strategic Plan Goals

Why does SFA care about strategic planning?

Simply put, strategic planning is the process an organization (in our case, SFA) uses to define its direction, set goals, determine the actions and resources needed to achieve these goals, and establish performance measures so progress can be gauged.

A strategic plan defines the goals [ends] and outlines how these ends are achieved by the means [resources].

Envision SFA...

is what we called the five-phase collaborative strategic planning process that informed the development of our next strategic plan.

Phase I Phase II Phase III Phase IV Phase V

Collaborative Strategic Planning

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.

Planning Update

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:

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.

Academic Innovation

SFA Identity

Make/Increase/Strengthen External Connections

Recruiting & Retaining High Quality Faculty and Staff

Transformative Experiences for Students

University Culture

[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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