SECTION 7: INSTITUTIONAL PLANNING AND EFFECTIVENESS
7.1 INSTITUTIONAL PLANNING [CR]
The institution engages in ongoing, comprehensive, and integrated research-based planning and evaluation processes that (a) focus on institutional quality and effectiveness and (b) incorporate a systematic review of institutional goals and outcomes consistent with its mission.
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North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has an institutional strategic planning process that ensures continuing, comprehensive and integrated research-based planning and evaluation that leads to updating and refreshing its business and academic processes. The product of the strategic planning process, which is done every five years, is a strategic plan. The most recent planning process produced the plan entitled, A&T Preeminence: Taking the Momentum to 2023. It follows the previous strategic plan entitled, A&T Preeminence 2020: Embracing Our Past, Creating Our Future. The basic model of continuous improvement used by the university is the Plan-Do-Check-Action model, a simple graphic of which is presented below. Following this model, the institution, every five years, engages in a comprehensive strategic planning process (PLAN). In the ensuing years it continually executes the plan (DO); while it monitors the plan continuously and reports to its constituents each year, using a Scorecard (CHECK). The report card is presented to the university and the broader community at the beginning of each fall semester, and covers the recent academic years. To complete the model, the institution makes modifications based on the data gathered as it monitored the plan, and continues to execute the plan, including any necessary modifications (ACT). This process continues every year until it is time to engage in another comprehensive strategic planning process. A copy of the most recent Scorecard is on page 13 of the 2019 Executive Summary: A&T Preeminence 2020: Embracing Our Past, Creating Our Future.
Each time the institution undertakes strategic planning, the major academic units—the Colleges—and the major divisions, such as the Division of Research and Economic Development, also update their strategic plans.
The institution’s current strategic plan, A&T Preeminence: Taking the Momentum to 2023, builds on gains the university made as it implemented the previous plan, Preeminence 2020. With Preeminence 2023, the university is committed to achieving goals in five broad areas:
1. Excellence in Teaching, Research and Engagement;
2. Intellectual climate;
3. Public Service and Community Engagement;
4. Stewardship, Operational Effectiveness and Efficiencies;
5. Diverse and Inclusive Culture
(a) Focus on Institutional Quality and Effectiveness
The continuous process of Plan-Do-Check-Action (PDCA) provides a strong framework for planning, assessment, and continuous improvement at the institutional level. Research data, drawn from institutional databases as well as community and stakeholder demographics drive the institution’s planning and provide benchmarks for institutional “checking.” The constant and consistent monitoring of the institution’s strategic plan keeps faculty, staff, and administrators goal-oriented and results-focused. Data are gathered throughout the academic year and are analyzed to determine the extent to which goals and targets are achieved, and to help hone the directions for the coming year. The data also provide the basis for funding of university initiatives, such as student success initiatives.
Figure 1: The Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) Model
For example, the university launched our Student Success Initiatives to more effectively address the needs of some of our more vulnerable students, as well as those in the “murky middle” who were underperforming was a response to disappointing annual retention, four-year and six-year graduation rates. The Divisions of Academic Affairs started implementing the Student Success Strategies in the Fall 2018 and results have already started to show improvements. One of the more successful initiatives has been embedding professional advisors in each college and another has been strengthening and supporting living learning community, as shown in the 2019 assessment report. Between Fall 2018 and Fall 2019, retention grew by 2.4 percent and 4-year graduation rate grew by 2 percent.
(b) Incorporating a Systematic Review of Institutional Goals and Outcomes Consistent with its Mission
The strategic plan provides direction for the university and includes specific goals and strategies for achieving the goals. Annually, Cabinet members review the previous year’s accomplishments and identify priorities for the coming year as well as allocate resources to support each goal. The agenda for the summer 2019 Cabinet Retreat is provided as is the list of strategic priorities that were identified for the 2019—2020 academic year. Page 1 of the institution’s detailed list of 2019—2020 priorities is also provided. The Board of Trustees receives an annual update at its summer retreat, as shown by the agenda of the summer 2019 meeting.
While this review is being done at the institutional level, Divisions and Colleges are also receiving data to help them assess the extent to which their unit goals and targets have been achieved. With their team members, they determine the adjustments that are needed as they enter the next academic year. Unit scorecards are prepared and used to drive the conversation and planning. An example of a unit scorecard is provided for the Division of Academic Affairs.
Besides the strategic planning initiatives that occur every five years, another significant planning event during the last 10 years was the reorganization of the academic units in the Division of Academic Affairs. The project, ending in 2016, was driven by the desire to strengthen academic programs and better align the units of the institution for growth in research. The document, N.C. A&T Academic Reorganization, presents the overview and shares the outcomes of the two-year project.
In 2017, after reviewing the results of the institutional restructuring, and considering that the institution was in the sixth year of its strategic plan, A&T Preeminence 2020, the Cabinet and Board of Trustees made strategic planning a priority. A 64-person Strategic Plan Refresh Committee was established, representing all the university’s constituent groups—from students, faculty and staff to alumni and members of the local community. The committee was charged with the following:
1. Think and plan together about the direction of the university and goals for the institution for the next five years.
2. Review and integrate the goals, metrics, and targets from Higher Expectations, the University of North Carolina System’s strategic plan for 2017-2022.
3. Gauge our momentum in each of the six goals [of Preeminence 2020] before you recommend a course for the future and determine any changes that should be made to these goals, including additions and deletions.
4. Affirm our mission as a land-grant university and offer specific revisions to our current mission and vision statements and review and update our core values as needed.
As the work progressed over the year-long planning period, the committee grew to include more than 65 members from across campus and the community. Committee members worked through a variety of subcommittees to submit a refreshed plan, including a revised mission and vision statement and core values, in April 2018. A&T Preeminence: Taking the Momentum to 2023 was presented to the Cabinet in June 2018 and approved by the Board of Trustees in July 2018. The revised mission and vision statements were approved by the Board of Trustees in February 2018 and by the UNC Board of Governors in March 2018, as work on the strategic plan continued. Based on the Refresh, the 10 academic units and 10 administrative units engaged in a strategic planning process and submitted their own strategic plans by December 2018. Scorecards for each College were prepared, to align with the scorecard for the institution. The revised plan entitled “A&T Preeminence: Taking the Momentum to 2023”, includes the university’s key metrics on p. 22.
The strategic planning process and the reorganization project described above are two examples of comprehensive, and integrated research-based planning and evaluation processes that focus on institutional quality and effectiveness and incorporate a systematic review of institutional goals and outcomes.
The university engages in ongoing, comprehensive, and integrated research-based planning and evaluation processes that focus on institutional quality and effectiveness and incorporate a systematic review of its strategic goals and outcomes.
1. Strategic Plan 2023—A&T Preeminence: Taking the Momentum to 2023
2. Strategic Plan 2020—A&T Preeminence 2020: Embracing our Past, Creating Our Future
5. Living Learning Communities Report
6. Agenda for Cabinet Retreat, Summer 2019
7. List of Strategic Priorities for the 2019—2020 Academic Year
8. Page 1 of the Detailed List of 2019—2020 Strategic Priorities
9. Agenda for the 2019 Board of Trustees Retreat
10. Copy of Division of Academic Affairs Scorecard
11. Strategic Planning Refresh Charge Letter (64-person Strategic Plan Refresh Committee)
12. N.C. A&T Academic Reorganization