Administrators plan for university’s future, create strategic plan

Over the course of the next year, university officials will commence the development of a new strategic plan, with the assistance and input of faculty, staff, students and the administration.

“A strategic plan helps an institution think about the future, prepare for the future and put itself in the best position possible to be ready for what’s down the road,” said David Shields, vice president for student affairs. “Where do we want to go? What do we want to look like in five years?”  

The university’s last strategic plan (2007 to 2012) will conclude Dec. 31 this year. Among its many accomplishments are plans for a new science building, the black box theater and the new Academic Commons Building currently in construction, officials said.

“The plan we are now under, soon to be revised, set clear direction for us in improving our approach to campus diversity, to revising all aspects of our international programming, to our campus building plan (by way of a new campus master plan) and to our programs in student life,” said President Bill Cale via email.

Some of the things students can expect to see featured in the new university strategic plan are new residence halls, the completion of a new science building, plans for Floyd Science Building’s second life, new partnerships between academics and student affairs, a new “university success initiative” to aid in retaining students through graduation, programs to aid in preparing incoming students for collegiate life, enrollment increases and the expansion of on-campus programs and services for students, in addition to a possible move to Division I.

“We can’t do all things,” Shields said. “We don’t have the resources to do everything. So we have to strategically look at what key things will help our institution to grow, to remain strong, to distinguish ourselves as an institution, to support our students and to make the in-class and out-of-class experience for students top-notch.”

Cale said the university still had more to do in the way of ensuring students’ academic success but pointed to the creation of a University Success Center as work progress toward this end.

Also, he said the university will rely on a “comprehensive fundraising campaign as part of the next plan.”

Through this campaign, the administration hopes to decide what new building projects UNA needs.  

“Our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) will be one way we move toward distinguishing UNA, and its implementation will move us closer to that aspirational goal,” Cale said.

Shields said the new strategic plan will be reviewed every year to ensure its goals and initiatives align with the interests and realities of the university. In effect, the plan will become a “living document,” something that guides UNA’s progress as a whole, he said.

“Destiny is going to come,” Shields said. “The future’s coming. We have the opportunity, through a strategic plan, to chart out destiny or have our destiny chart us. I think the next 10, 15, 20 years of this institution are going to be very, very exciting years.

“UNA is in a very, very good position to become a stronger institution. We have an outstanding faculty, a tremendous staff — our student body is active and growing, we have a strong connection to our community, and we have a lot of friends and donors and supporters. President Cale, the administration, along with the faculty, staff and students, has laid a good foundation on which to build.”