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Planning to Plan - Strategically

Burke College has had a troubled history with its strategic plans over the last twenty-five years or so. The “Plan for the Nineties” proclaimed a bold vision for the institution’s future, but was lacking in details. When then-President Charlotte Harris moved on to the presidency of a new institution, it was shelved.

During a two-year transition period, the Board of Trustees created its own strategic plan, but lack of faculty buy-in frustrated its implementation.

The next president, Steve Jones, worked with a small group of trustees and faculty on a new plan in 2007, but its underlying assumptions and budget model were blown up by the Great Recession, and it too was shelved.

Upon his arrival in 2010, Jones’s successor, Miguel Ramirez, found such faculty cynicism about planning in general that he persuaded the trustees the College should focus more on short-term tactical goals.

In 2019 a new president, Doris Kavanaugh, was installed. The Trustees have made it clear they want a “real strategic plan” and they want it soon. The Vice Chair of the Board said at the last meeting “We all know what needs to be done. It should take six weeks, tops!” Doris is not so sure that is realistic.

How could we help? Successful strategic plans present a vision for the institution’s future that is “owned” by all the key stakeholders – the President, Trustees, faculty, staff, and alumni for starters. Developing this kind of ownership takes time, but is ultimately fundamental to successful implementation. We can help institutional leaders understand this basic truth. In addition:

· We can work with campus constituencies to clarify best strategic planning practices and design planning processes that incorporate these practices;

· We can facilitate planning sessions and retreats;

· We can assist in the preparation and revision of planning papers and drafts of plans;

· We can assist in designing assessment processes to gauge the successful implementation of plans.