College drives strategic plan forward

by President Joseph Lee

In this time of unprecedented economic challenges facing colleges and universities - and virtually every other sector of American society - strategic planning is not really an option. It is an absolute necessity. In this light, the fact that my highest priority is to develop a meaningful and effective strategic plan at Saint Joseph's takes on even more importance.

The Saint Joseph's Strategic Plan of 2009 will not become a static document containing goals and objectives intended to last for years. Instead, it will affirm the mission and core values of the college and set forth broad goals designed to achieve that mission and live out those core values in every aspect of college life.

This overarching commitment will be reflected in the college's organizational structure (academic and administrative), in its resource accumulation and management, and in the programs designed to benefit the students that it exists to serve. And, because the plan must be realistic and effective, it must be subject to regular review and alteration.

Further, the plan must reflect in its initial and amended forms the willingness of the college to reform itself when needed to accomplish its mission in the face of changing times and mounting challenges. Saint Joseph's College will formulate such a plan.

Consistent with my commitment to an open and broadly based process, input is being sought from every constituency, beginning with the campus community and moving outward. The tried-and-true method of SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) asks each participant to identify the top five items in each SWOT category. Each participant is also asked to offer a Vision Statement by completing this sentence: "By June 30, 2014, Saint Joseph's College will ...." By filling in the sentence as many times as wanted, each participant shares his or her vision for the future.

A steering committee of 20-24 individuals that I appoint will provide guidance and perspective for goal teams, which will be formed to make recommendations relative to the goals emerging from the SWOT and Vision Statements, and from the background work performed by Trustees and the senior staff. I will serve as chairperson of the steering committee and have appointed Bun Perkinson, Saint Joseph's Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement, to facilitate the overall process. He has extensive experience in managing strategic planning projects at numerous other colleges and nonprofits, gained from his 35 years experience as a college president and consultant to educational and other institutions. The first draft of the strategic plan is expected in June.

We welcome ideas or comments from alumni and friends. If you want a copy of the SWOT analysis form, e-mail mgresh@sjcme.edu.