Office of Strategic Planning & Assessment

Strategic Plan Beyond 2010


February, 2010

Summary of the Feedback Sessions

Twenty feedback sessions were conducted in person or by phone in November, December and January.   During that time there were approximately 700 participants from all constituent groups: including alumni, faculty, staff, students, and trustees.   Notes were taken at each session and forwarded to the Commission on Planning and Action for consideration.  In addition, there were numerous on-line feedback forms submitted to the Commission.  A revised draft Plan will be distributed to the University community on February 19, 2010.

Proposed Timeline to complete the Plan for approval

TARGET – Board of Trustees Approval – March 26, 2010

January 29, 2010 – Commission on Planning and Action Meeting

February 2, 2010 – Academic Department Chairs meet

February 8 - 12, 2010 – Elaine revises draft based on feedback from all constituent groups

February 9, 2010 – University Council meets – Strategic Plan update

February 16, 2010 – Commission reviews and approves 2nd Draft via conference call with Elaine

February 19, 2010 – Distribute 2nd Draft to the University community

February 23, 2010 (11:00 a.m.) – Faculty meeting – Discussion of 2nd Draft [Jake and CPA faculty to lead]

February 23, 2010 (4:00 p.m.) – University Council meets – Discussion of 2nd Draft [Jake and CPA members to lead]

February 23, 2010 (6:00 p.m.) – Student Congress – Discussion of 2nd Draft [Jake, Jerry, Leah and Matt to lead]

February 26, 2010 (12 noon) – Staff Affairs Council – Discussion of 2nd Draft [Jake, Arden and Kimele to lead]

February 23 – March 1 – TBD – non-Executive Committee Trustees conference call to discuss 2nd Draft

March 1, 2010 – Trustee Executive Committee conference call – review Spring agenda and discuss 2nd Draft

March 2, 2010 – Academic Department Chairs meet – discuss 2nd Draft

March 2, 2010 – Elaine makes any Plan changes and distributes to Commission

March 4, 2010 – Commission meets via conference call with Elaine (if needed)

March 5, 2010 – Trustees’ Executive Committee conference call (if needed)

March 5 – 9, 2010 – Staff – Vote on the Plan

March 9, 2010 (4:00 p.m.) –University Council meeting – Vote on the Plan

March 9, 2010 – Academic Division meetings – discuss 2nd Draft

March 12 – 19, 2010 – SPRING BREAK

March 23, 2010 (11:00 a.m.) – Faculty meeting: Vote on the plan

March 26, 2010 – Board of Trustees approve new Strategic Plan

NOTE: The Football Pre-Feasibility Study 2009 is available for your review in the A. Frank Smith Library, and the offices of the Provost and the Vice President for Student Life.


DATE:       October 2009


Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni Council, Alumni Assembly and Board of Visitors of Southwestern University:


The draft strategic plan put forth by the Commission on Planning and Action is available for your review at  This document is the outcome of many months of research, outreach, and vigorous deliberation. I commend the Commission members for their hard work, commitment, and willingness to listen to all viewpoints in order to arrive at a plan that is truly in the interest of our students and all members of the Southwestern community. I also thank those of you who took the time to share your wisdom and ideas over the last year. Your discussions had, and continue to have, a significant impact on the work of the Commission and the content of the plan.

You are all aware that I recently hosted an open forum for faculty and staff with a goal of helping us all to understand the current economic climate, its effect on higher education and, specifically, on Southwestern.  This is the climate in which the Commission has functioned as it sought to balance current realties with our many aspirations in developing a plan to guide us in the coming years.

In this draft of the plan, the Commission recommends four strategic directions, or high-level priorities, aimed ten years out. It also includes a small number of critical strategies for the next three to five years. Each component of the plan builds on and supports the others. Taken as a whole, it is an integrated strategy that is intended to help us embrace our aspirations while navigating these challenging financial times. It is a plan with vision grounded in reality.  

Today, we enter the next phase of strategic planning.  Over the coming weeks, members of the Commission will conduct a series of meetings for comment and input.  The schedule of meetings will be posted and announced through Campus Notices and the Commission’s web site.  Sessions will include meetings for faculty, staff, students and alumni.  Everyone is invited, at anytime, to visit the Commission’s feedback webpage to submit comments.

Tonight, Bob Karr ’72, Trustee Chair for the Strategic Plan, will present the draft and an overview of the process to the Board of Trustees.  In the same weeks during which the campus community may review and pose comments, members of the Board of Trustees will do the same.  All input will then be considered by the Commission at its meeting in late January. The resulting plan will then be communicated to all constituencies and will be acted on by the University Council and by the Faculty. The President will submit the plan to the Board of Trustees for approval at the Spring 2010 Board of Trustees Meeting in late March.

When the plan is approved, our work will have just begun as the plan will provide a framework for ongoing planning and action at many levels and in many parts of the institution. A strategic plan is always a work in progress. I, along with Commission members look forward to working with you on this critical endeavor. 

Jake B. Schrum

DATE:       October 2, 2009

TO:                 The Southwestern University Community

FROM:            President Jake B. Schrum

RE:                 Strategic Planning Update

The Commission on Planning and Action (CPA) met on Sept 24th to review the Preliminary Draft Strategic Plan.

Currently the plan is being framed by the University’s Core Purpose and Core Values with two Overarching Goals:

Increase the value of a Southwestern education for students

Ensure the financial vitality and sustainability of the institution

At this point the Preliminary Draft contains four Strategic Directions/Initiatives:

Academic Life

Campus Life

Planned Growth

Visibility and Reach

During the September 24th meeting the CPA took considerable time to focus on the Academic Life Section of the Preliminary Draft.  Because none of the other current Strategic Directions/Initiatives were addressed with the same depth as Academic Life, it was decided that another CPA meeting would be scheduled.  That meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 21st

Additionally, the CPA concluded that a Contextual Statement or Environment Scan describing the demographic and economic climate will be created as an introduction to the plan.

In anticipation of your questions and concerns, I have scheduled a meeting open to all members of the University community.  This meeting is scheduled for October 7, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater.  This is a time to answer questions and to receive your feedback.  ALL are invited to participate.

Update on Planning – September 2009

Summer, 2009 was wonderfully productive.  Seven subgroups including forty-six individuals met, primarily via telephone conference calls, to generate reports and recommendations to present to the Commission on Planning and Action at its August 24th meeting.  These subgroups included many faculty, staff, and alumni who are not members of the Commission.  The individual participants brought a wide variety of perspectives to the issues under consideration.  It should be noted that the subgroup members gave a significant amount of time during their summer vacations to this process.  This was a commitment above and beyond their regular activities.

The subgroups were: Academic Directions, Expanded Campus Life, Smart Growth, Visibility and Reach, and Finances.  Except for the Finances Subgroup, the other four subgroups convened for two conference call meetings – one in early June and another in early August.  In addition to these five subgroups, three additional ones were appointed later in the summer: East Campus Development, NITLE/Technology, and Paideia.  These three each convened for one conference call during the summer.  The Finances subgroup will convene this fall after the Preliminary Draft Plan has been created.  The senior staff will assist the Finances subgroup with its work.  The past summer’s work is vital to moving Southwestern’s strategic planning process forward.

In an extended retreat on August 25th, the Commission discussed the reports and recommendations from the subgroups.  Based on those discussions, Elaine Kuttner, our planning consultant, will draft a preliminary plan that will be available to the Commission for discussion and refinement at its September 24th meeting.  After the revisions coming out of the September 24th meeting, the second draft plan will be vetted with various constituent groups of the University including faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni.   

During the coming four to five months, the members of the Commission will create the blueprint to advance this great University over the next five years.  The new plan at its core will focus on student learning.  At the same time the new plan, linked to the financial realities of the times, will elevate Southwestern University to the level of recognition it deserves as a National Liberal Arts and Sciences Institution.  The aim of the Commission is to submit its plan to the Board of Trustees for confirmation and adoption in the spring, 2010.

Your Role in the Strategic Planning Process

As a member of the Southwestern University community, you are invited to remain engaged in the work of the Commission on Planning and Action by providing feedback as information about the plan is made available in meetings and on the planning website.  The schedule of meetings will be updated and announced throughout the University.  If you have questions, comments, or suggestions kindly contact any member of the Commission listed on the website or call the Office of Strategic Planning and Assessment at extension 1940.

Update on Planning – June 2009

Information Gathering and Engagement

Southwestern University’s strategic planning process began in January of 2009 with the initiation of an extensive information gathering effort. The goal is to engage all Southwestern constituencies in the process of planning for the future of the institution. Elaine Kuttner, planning consultant and Principal of Cambridge Concord Associates, is working closely with the Commission on Planning and Action (appointed by President Schrum in early January 2009), to gather information and integrate it into the strategic planning discussions. Listed below are the interviews and group input sessions that have taken place thus far.

  • Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees: Consultants conducted one-on-one interviews with each member of this committee.
  • Commission on Planning and Action: Consultants conducted one-on-one interviews with each member of this multi-constituency group.
  • Senior Staff: Consultants conducted one-on-one interviews with each member of the President’s Senior Staff.
  • Central Texas Business Community: One group session, made up of approximately 15 regional leaders in business, higher education and health care, was convened by President Schrum and moderated by planning consultant.
  • Retreat of the Board of Trustees and the Commission on Planning and Action: Approximately 50 individuals attended a weekend retreat focused on strategic planning.
  • Faculty Roundtables: Approximately 70 faculty members, representing most academic programs, attended one of 8 roundtable discussions.
  • Staff Roundtables: Approximately 45 staff members from across the institution attended a broad-based input session.
  • Student Congress and Student Forum: Approximately 50 students, representing a wide variety of interests and involvement in campus activities, attended one of two sessions.
  • Diversity Enrichment Committee: dedicated one meeting to planning input.
  • Board of Visitors: This high level group of external leaders dedicated one full meeting to a discussion of the plan.
  • Alumni: Representatives from the Alumni Council as well as other interested alumni met to discuss the future of Southwestern at their meeting in April.

While the Commission on Planning and Action has begun to move forward with its deliberations, the information gathering process continues.

The Work of the Commission on Planning and Action

The Commission began its work in February 2009 by fine-tuning the planning process and timeline, and reviewing the results of all information that had been gathered at that time. In March, the group began to develop and discuss a preliminary set of strategic questions that had begun to emerge as a result of all the input. Embedded in the questions were such challenges as, how do we grow the institution in a way that preserves its core values, culture and academic excellence; how do we develop a more cohesive and multidisciplinary approach to academic programming; how should we address the need for an improved science facility; and how do we create greater visibility and reach for Southwestern University. As the Commission members discussed these and other questions, new insights and an array of new questions emerged.

At its April meeting, the Commission identified five areas of inquiry and committed to launching five subgroups to further the discussions over the summer months. In early May President Schrum officially invited ten Commission members to head the subgroups- two co-chairs for each group. The subgroups and their co-chairs are listed below.

At the end of August the Commission on Planning and Action will meet for a day and a half to hear the outcomes of the subgroup work. They will then develop the preliminary framework for the plan – a preliminary set of strategic directions and accompanying strategies.

After the August retreat, the Commission will launch the Financial Subgroup. That group will focus on the following questions: Broadly, what resources, human and financial, will it take to effectively implement this plan and how might we orchestrate implementation over time to ensure financial strength and sustainability?

Summer Subgroup Topics and Co-Chairs:

Academic Direction:  Dirk Early, Paul Gaffney, and Jim Hunt

Visibility and Reach:  David Gaines and Rick McKelvey

Expanded Campus Life:  David Asbury and Jerry Brody

Smart Growth:  Suzanne Buchele and Tom Oliver

Financial:  Richard Anderson and Fay Guarraci

Next Steps

It is expected that in October the Commission will put forward the emerging plan and will test the plan with a large number of Southwestern University constituencies and stakeholders – faculty, Board of Trustees, staff, students, alumni and Board of Visitors. The process will be highly consultative and will hopefully lead to a number of refinements that will strengthen the plan, and ultimately to the confirmation of the plan by all involved. 

Planning Menu

Contact us:

Southwestern University
Strategic Planning & Assessment
P.O. Box 770,
Georgetown, TX 78627-0770

The Office of Strategic Planning & Assessment is located on the first floor of the Cullen Building.