Without vision, a plan is a group of meaningless words collecting dust. But with the creation of MSUM’s new strategic plan, administrators have set more than a vision in motion—they’ve declared a promise.
In the fall of 2012, a large strategic planning committee formed out of students, faculty, staff, community members and alumni. According to Provost Anne Blackhurst, the committee did an extensive review of the university’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats of the external environment.
After multiple drafts and revisions, a two-sided document holds the finalized mission statement, core values, strategic vision and five strategic priorities for the years of 2013-18.
Every area of the University will set their own transformative goals that will specifically help address these priorities.
MSUM vice president for academic planning Denise Gorsline, empathizes with faculty who received the new plan at the beginning of the school year.
“I think it’s hard, you know? It’s the first of the school year and faculty get this and they may be thinking, ‘This seems like a lot,’ but in a way it’s just charting our direction, and I think that’s good,” Gorsline said.
Blackhurst explains the meaning behind the new strategic plan’s name, “Fulfilling Our Promise.”
“Promise is another meaning for potential. You could read this as fulfilling our potential, so the plan is a way for us to continue to evolve in ways that fulfill really some of the basic reasons we were founded as a university.”
“Fulfilling Our Promise” consists of five strategic priorities that will guide decision making and resource distribution. Having the community be an active part of MSUM is an overarching theme explicitly stated in the plan.
“We are a place that exists because the people of this community believed we would improve social and economic conditions in this region,” Blackhurst said. “So, we’re continuing to think about how we need to change and evolve as a university.”
Gorsline also believes MSUM and students should take advantage of the opportunities found in the community and vice versa.
“You want to be viewed as a good partner to the community. Universities sometimes aren’t…but I think, both for the community and students, it’s a really beneficial relationship,” Gorsline said.
A promise can be made, but more important is if the promise will be kept.
“The real work is what happens next,” Gorsline said when discussing the role of faculty. “We’re trying to emphasize, not unlike writing a paper, that quantity is not what we’re looking for. We would rather have somebody do less and do these important things than feeling like we’re just making them do more.”
Spring goals are a part of the plan; administrators would rather push for more for their students than settle for less.
One of their goals pushes for 100 percent of students to have an authentic ongoing experience where they can demonstrate their learning, such as an internship.
Another goal is to increase retention and graduation rates of students, because currently MSUM is not a leader in the state system. Students can see these goals taking place. The MAP-Works survey and the Dragon Success class are two examples of the University strategies to help improve retention rates.
“We’re trying to ‘Fulfill Our Promise’ to students to provide the best education we can,” Blackhurst said. “It’s a commitment instead of something that would be nice to achieve some day.”
BY JESSICA JASPERSON