UNK is engaged in an iterative, inclusive, and ongoing approach to campus-wide strategic planning that translates our collective institutional vision into action. UNK planning is guided by a Strategic Framework Document (.pdf) prepared by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and a statewide plan developed by the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education.
Strategic planning establishes an organization's desired future and provides direction for programs. It is how leaders focus institutional ways and means toward desired ends. Just as importantly, through an interactive process of self-scrutiny and dialogue, planning promotes institutional cohesion. While the most obvious product of this process is a plan—a document that records how thoughts and circumstances have converged during a particular period of time—perhaps the most valuable product of strategic planning is the collaboration it requires. This process of thinking together about purposes, values, and capability engenders a unifying dynamic that strengthens a community and empowers it to advance.
History and Prospect
At UNK, more than a century of planning has guided our evolution from an isolated regional normal school into a modern comprehensive university that provides educational access to students throughout the United States and the world. Currently, within the University of Nebraska system, UNK has the distinctive mission to be a premier institution for undergraduate education, to offer graduate programs grounded in that strength, and to enhance the social, cultural, and economic development of our region and state through educational programs, scholarship, and public service. In 1994-95, following a decennial North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) re-accreditation process, we developed a strategic plan to guide initial development within the NU system. In 2004, again building upon re-accreditation analyses, we launched a renewed planning effort to extend our prior accomplishments and position UNK for success in a new era. UNK’s strategic planning developed in two phases.
Phase I: Mission, Vision, and Planning Guidance
Chancellor Douglas Kristensen chaired UNK’s Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) during Phase I (2004-2006). The SPC grounded its work statement upon our NCA re-accreditation Self-Study and ongoing appraisal of our situation and progress. Informed by broad campus dialogue, the SPC engaged in systematic analysis and deliberation to develop a campus-wide strategic plan (.pdf), a comprehensive consensus statement of UNK's mission, vision, goals, objectives, and high-value directions for program development to guide decision-making for the following five to ten years.
Phase I links:
During Phase II, we emphasized that important institutional goals require units to “see” and collaborate across functional boundaries. As Phase II "supporting" plans were developed, we sought to capture the best thinking of our specialists relative to aligning priorities and programs with Phase I guidance.
In addition, parallel to and in association with development of our Phase I Plan we prepared a general blueprint to enhance the physical campus. That document (.pdf), which the University’s Board of Regents reviewed, is now an important part of the family of implementing plans that describe the major ways we are attempting to realize our institutional vision.
The Enrollment Management Council convened in 2008, and with the assistance of the Noel-Levitz enrollment consulting firm, developed a Strategic Enrollment plan (.pdf) [summarized in the Strategic Enrollment Plan Executive Summary (.pdf)]. The plan, completed in June 2009, addresses institutional objectives for student recruitment and success. In 2011, the Student Success Council built on this work and developed a Student Success plan (.pdf) to address retention activities and improvement of graduation rate.
Each of the following Phase II supporting plans, like the Phase I document itself, provides guidelines for proceeding within the context of current or foreseeable circumstances. While representing our current best thinking on the matters addressed, we recognize and anticipate the need to thoughtfully to adjust and augment plans as our situation, context, and goals may evolve.
Phase II Implementation Plan links: