Strategic plan document ready for HLC

Vice President for Academic Affairs AJ Anglin presented Missouri Southern’s Board of Governors with a completed strategic plan document during the Board’s annual retreat on March 18.

The document, which consists of six goals and accompanying objectives, will be presented to a visiting team from the Higher Learning Commission during a focus visit on campus April 4 and 5.

Strategic planning was one of two major issues found during a 2008 accreditation visit at Southern, and while the University was approved for 10 more years of accreditation, the HLC scheduled the focus visit to measure progress.

Anglin stressed that Southern must use the document to guide the University in the next five years.

“We’re driven by the focus visit but the reality of it is that’s exactly why they do focus visits, to make sure that the University gets with the program and really spends a lot of time and hopefully we will not lose sight of the importance of it, which I know that we will not,” Anglin told the Board.

The two team members from the HLC will conduct interviews with various groups and individuals on April 4 and will provide a preliminary report early Tuesday, Anglin said.

By August and September 2008, approximately three months after the initial HLC visit, Southern had created a steering committee and a strategic planning committee, and Anglin, who had not yet arrived at Southern, said it was decided that key performance indicators would be the driving force of the University’s approach.

“We’re not going to lose sight of the KPI’s,” Anglin told the Board. “It’s important that we not lose that work. We are not at a point that I can tell you exactly how we capture all of that, but one of the ways we do that with our strategic planning committee is to frequently pull out the KPI’s to remind us as we then go to the next stage of the strategic planning that these are important measurables we want to be somehow keeping in the back of our mind as we put the rest of this together.”

A revolving door in the office for vice president for academic affairs during the summer of 2009, which saw Dr. John Messick leave the post and return to the classroom, followed by Dr. Jack Oakes and then Dr. Brad Kleindl all in a matter of weeks, proved to be a hurdle for the strategic planning process.

Anglin said Kleindl came in with his own view of strategic planning, after work had already been done using key performance indicators as a directive.

“We had three vice presidents,” Anglin told the Board. “We had one that was there, Jack (Oakes) was there for a short period of time and then Brad Kleindl came in. I say that because that’s what the document does for us if you look at the self study. It only documents what happened. It doesn’t cloud anything, it doesn’t miss anything. In fact it includes the fact there was a no-confidence vote if you look down that table, it includes that in there. It is a record of truth because if I were a visiting member, I’d want to know the record of truth. I would not want to try to ferret out what really happened.”

Kleindl’s approach was to identify the essential goals of the institution for the next five years and then identify the objectives for those goals, Anglin said. Anglin was named vice president for academic affairs last summer after Kleindl returned to the classroom and later took another job, and he joined Vice President for Student Affairs Darren Fullerton as co-chairs of the committee.

When Anglin and Fullerton realized that nothing had been acted on for “a number of months,” and the plan had limited ownership, he told The Board, it was decided to create a strategic plan taskforce to take Kleindl’s work and fine tune the goals and objectives.

Those goals now include achieving student success through quality academic programs, providing a total University experience through quality programs and services, promoting an international perspective to foster understanding and success in a culturally-diverse world, promoting effective stewardship of resources to support the University’s mission, promoting a culture that values all members of the campus community and promoting the developing of communities.

“We want to make sure that the goals and objectives get down to every single faculty and staff member on this campus and even the students,” Fullerton told the Board. “It’s going through the student representative and the Student Senate and each of them will look at the goals and objectives and say, ‘How do we accomplish that, who accomplishes that and how do we measure that?’ and we’ll utilize a lot of the KPI data.”

Governor Dwight Douglas said the HLC’s findings in 2008 in regards to a deficiency in strategic planning was “right on target.”

“This University, that I’m aware of, had never really addressed the process and invited participation on this level of any of these issues and to have gone through this process, really when it was started and one of the reasons it was so tough to get started is because it was actually starting at what I’d call ground zero,” Douglas said. “There just wasn’t anything there to base it on so people had to come together and feel and find their own way and over time, although there’s been some different changes, it has been a journey of finding our own way and it’s very important and I’m just really excited to see this.”