Strategic Planning

Building A Resilient, Student Ready University

Strategic Plan 


Strategic Planning Task Force Members:

Jennifer Dosch, IFO Kerry Johnson, IFO
Colette Faidley, AFSCME Lisa Kell, Finance representative
Wilson Garland, President’s appointee Leonel Mejia, Student
Kathryn Gilbert, MAPE Will Ruckel, MSUAASF
Amy Gort, Provost (co-chair) Raj Sethuraju, IFO
Craig Hansen, Dean of CLA Mary Williams, IFO CF
Wendy Helm, ITS representative Dick Zehring, community
August Hoffman, IFO (co-chair) member/former Foundation Board member

Strategic Planning Process

During FY 2019 the President convened a Strategic Planning Task Force, co-chaired by the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Dr. Amy Gort and the local IFO president, Dr. August Hoffman.  The Task Force was broadly representative including members of all bargaining units, the Student Senate Vice President, a dean, representatives appointed by the President, CIO and CFO and a former Foundation Board member, representing the larger Metropolitan State community.  The Task Force was supported in its work by Dr. Howard Cohen, Chancellor Emeritus of Purdue University Northwest and Executive Director of AASCU’s Penson Center.

The Task Force met monthly during the fall semester and during March and April in the spring semester.  In January and February 2019 Task Force members paired up and created working subgroups of interested members of the campus community, organized around the six strategic commitments that had been developed during their fall sessions. Thirty-five additional campus employees participated in the working subgroups.  

The Task Force promoted widespread campus engagement in the process. Dr. Cohen and the Task Force co-chairs held two open forums (one in Saint Paul and one in Minneapolis) in late September to inform campus about the process and to get initial input on the opportunities and challenges facing Metropolitan State.  The attendees also enumerated strengths and weaknesses of the university. Strategic commitment subgroups met several times during January and February 2019 to develop a goal statement for their assigned commitment and to suggest activities that would support goal achievement. During early April five open forums in various campus locations were held to review the draft plan and receive feedback. In addition, specific feedback sessions were held with the University’s Leadership Assembly (all supervisors) and with AFSCME and MAPE bargaining unit leaders.  Cabinet members were frequently encouraged to share information and gather feedback at college and department meetings during the year.  Throughout the process campus was provided updates through email and the ongoing work was shared at every bargaining unit meet and confer or labor-management meeting.  A dedicated strategic planning email account was used to collect written feedback and was well used.  After the Task Force had completed its work, the President’s Executive Cabinet reviewed and refined the draft even further.  The final version of the Strategic Commitments was shared with campus during the President’s August 2019 Convocation address with breakout sessions organized by strategic commitment and goal held in the afternoon.

Because the University was embarking on its strategic planning at the same time that Minnesota State was “Reimagining”, task force members reviewed all the Reimagining materials and attended forums to assure that the University’s plan was informed by and well aligned to the Reimagining effort.

At the June 2019 Board of Trustees meeting, Chancellor Malhotra shared his overarching goal for the Minnesota State system:

By 2030, Minnesota State will eliminate the educational equity gaps at every Minnesota State college and university.  To achieve this, we must enhance access and increase student success by:

  • Increasing student retention, persistence and graduation;
  • Increasing the percent of Minnesotans age 25 to 44 who have attained a Postsecondary certificate or degree to 70 percent across all populations (Minnesota’s Educational Attainment Goal 2025);
  • Increasing market share of high school graduates and the transfer rate from our two-year colleges to our universities; and
  • Increasing the number of post-traditional (adult) learners.

The six Strategic Commitments, supporting goals, activities and measures are well-aligned to the Chancellor’s goal.

The effort was also framed within the context of the University’s current mission and vision statements, which read:


Metropolitan State University is a comprehensive urban university committed to meeting the higher education needs of the Twin Cities and greater metropolitan population.

The university will provide accessible, high-quality liberal arts, professional, and graduate education to the citizens and communities of the metropolitan area, with continued emphasis on underserved groups, including adults and communities of color. 

Within the context of lifelong learning, the university will build on its national reputation for innovative student-centered programs that enable students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their educational goals.

The university is committed to academic excellence and community partnerships through curriculum, teaching, scholarship and services designed to support an urban mission. 


Metropolitan State University, a member of the Minnesota State College and University System, will be the premier urban, public, comprehensive system university in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and will provide high-quality, affordable educational programs and services in a student-centered environment.

The faculty, staff and students of Metropolitan State will reflect the area’s rich diversity, build a culturally competent and anti-racist learning community and demonstrate an unwavering commitment to civic engagement.

Strategic Commitments, Goals and Activities:

Dr. Cohen urged the president and the task force to focus the strategic commitments as much as possible, reminding us that a plan with too many goals and activities is unlikely to be achieved.  While his preference was to have us get to three commitments, there was strong feeling in the Task Force that we needed three commitments (#1-3) related to student learning and support that would fully express the important areas we must address to establish ourselves as the University that provides an extraordinary educational experience for post-traditional learners.  Strategic commitment #4 reflects the core, founding commitment of the university to ongoing, mutually beneficial engagement with our external communities. Strategic commitment #5 reflects the university’s enduring and steadfast commitment to anti-racism, equity and inclusion, which we strive to incorporate into the DNA of the university’s way of being and working.  Strategic commitment #6 addresses the need of the university to mature and routinize its operational infrastructure and processes as a means of strengthening the human and financial sustainability of the University. 

As part of advance work on Strategic commitment #6 the university community has simultaneously been developing campus unit, division and university level annual work plans.  As a complex university, which is still maturing organizationally, we notice that people often feel overwhelmed and uncertain of the right direction for their work.  The first annual workplans have been collected for FY 20 and are currently being synthesized and tied to the strategic commitments for alignment.  We have conducted university-wide training for supervisors on goal-setting and performance review and are guiding them to incorporate strategically aligned work into every employee’s individual work plans for the year.  While it will take a year or two to get completely in synch, we believe that these processes, taken together, will strengthen the university and its overall achievement of its mission and vision focused on student growth and success.

Building a Resilient, Student Ready University

Strategic Commitments, Goals, Activities & Measures

Strategic Commitment #1: Set standards for student-centered support that meets the particular needs of subgroups of students based on identified demographic student profiles as a means to increase degree completion for all students.

Goal: Through innovative, student-centered support we will increase degree completion for all students, by addressing the particular needs of subgroups of students based on identified demographic student profiles, as measured by successful course completion, student persistence, and student learning outcomes.

  • Degree completion is measured as the percentage of students who complete a degree within six years of matriculation (first semester registered) at Metropolitan State University.  The 6-year degree completion rate for students who started in fall 2011 was 67.4%.  Our goal is to increase degree completion by 3%.
  • Successful course completion is measured as the percentage of attempted credits that are completed each term. The average course completion percentage over the past three academic terms for all courses (including Creative Learning Strategies (CLS) is 87%. Our goal is to increase course completion 3%.
  • Student persistence is measured as continuous enrollment between consecutive fall terms. Our fall-to-fall persistence rate for students starting in fall 2015 was 83.3%. Our goal is to increase fall-to-fall persistence 3%.
  • For any of the above measures where there is a disparity between the overall student results and an identified student demographic group, our goal is to close the gap by at least 80%.


  • Identify obstacles for students by constructing a journey map of the student experience for various demographic groups, including academic advising, admissions, transfer, financial aid, and student support services by the end of FY 2020.  Using the information gathered from the mapping, develop an action plan based on best practices to strengthen our support for and interaction with post-traditional students to be implemented beginning for FY 2021. 
  • Evaluate degree completion, course completion, and persistence data to determine current values, identify disparities among demographic groups, and set 2-year and 5-year goals for all students and for closing outcome gaps for identified demographic groups. 
  • The Assessment Committee will engage faculty in a process to establish institutional student learning outcomes by the end of FY 2020, initiate annual measurement of outcomes in FY 2021, and evaluate progress and report results in FY 2024.

Strategic Commitment #2: Provide distinctive, high quality, accessible, and affordable educational opportunities for post-traditional learners.   

GoalDefine what it means to be a Metropolitan State graduate and actualize by defining and prioritizing initiatives for implementing, improving, and expanding high-impact practices in academic and student affairs to enhance the learning of post-traditional students as measured by student persistence, student participation in high-impact practices, and related employment rates for graduates over the next five years.  

  • Student participation in high-impact practices is measured by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE).  As high-impact practices are designed for Metropolitan State University and implemented, goals for increased student and faculty participation in the high-impact practices will be set compared to our 2017 NSSE and FSSE baseline data with a deadline of FY 2024.
  • Related employment rates for graduates is based on graduation survey data collected and reported each year by the MN State System of Colleges and Universities.  The overall related employment rate for Metropolitan State University graduates from 2017 is 71.6%.  Our goal is to increase the overall related employment rate for graduates by 5%.
  • For any of the above measures where there is a disparity between the overall student results and an identified student demographic group, our goal is to close the gap by at least 80%.


Through shared governance, create a joint learning community of faculty and student support staff in FY 2020 to research, adapt, and implement high impact practices for post-traditional learners. This learning community will:

  • Review existing research and internal examples of effective high impact practices to determine how best to address the needs of post-traditional learners in programs across the University.
  • Utilizing results from the student journey mapping, highlight opportunities for improvement within current institutional practices.
  • Focus on improving, increasing, or newly implementing one high impact practice per year beginning fall 2020 that addresses academic and student support factors.

Strategic Commitment #3: Create a culture that supports and celebrates dynamic, innovative teaching that results in learning environments that effectively engage post-traditional learners in transformative and relevant learning and distinguishes Metropolitan State University graduates.

Goal: Increase the adoption of and recognize faculty for high-quality, innovative teaching practices in order to positively impact student learning as measured by achievement of institutional learning goals, program-level assessment of student learning, student evaluations of their interactions with faculty, faculty evaluations of their teaching practices, and faculty engagement with professional development activities. 

  • Develop institutional learning goals that define the unique qualities of a Metropolitan State University graduate.
  • Each academic program sets goals for program-level student learning.  Our goal is for more than 80% of programs to exceed their program-level student learning goals.
  • Student evaluations of their interactions with faculty will be measured in two ways: through NSSE data on student interactions with faculty, and through aggregate data collected by the Student Rating of Instruction survey.  The 2017 NSSE data indicated a student-faculty interaction score of 17.9 and an effective teaching practices score of 40.7.  Our goal is to achieve and maintain scores that are equal to or exceed those of our IPEDs peer institutions.  The Student Rating of Instruction Survey will be administered for the first time in FY 2020 and goals will be set once baseline aggregate data can be evaluated.
  • Faculty evaluations of their teaching practices will be measured by the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE). The 2017 FSSE report that compares faculty reports of effective teaching practices to student reports of the same practices, show that students report the practices at least a 10% lower rate than faculty (FSSE/NSSE combined report).  Our goal is to close the gap between faculty and student reports by 70%.  In addition as part of the FSSE, faculty rate the quality of student interactions with faculty.   In 2017, faculty rated the quality of student interaction with faculty as high between 29% in lower division classes and 39% in upper division classes (FSSE/NSSE combined report).  Our goal is to increase the faculty rating of student interactions with faculty as high quality more than 5%. 
  • Faculty engagement with professional development activities will be measured by the number of individual faculty who are participating in activities through the Center for Faculty Development and the Center for Online Learning.  Once the baseline data is obtained for faculty participating in professional development activities a goal will be set for the 5-year timeframe of this plan.


  • Through shared governance engage faculty in development of institutional learning goals that define the unique characteristics of a Metropolitan State graduate by the beginning of FY 2021, initiate annual measurement of outcomes in both courses and co-curricular learning environments and set goals for student achievement of the learning outcomes during FY 2021, and evaluate progress and report results in FY 2024.  
  • Through shared governance, create a learning community of faculty and staff, including representatives from the Center for Educational Innovation that will identifyhigh-quality and innovative teaching practices for post-traditional learners that have a demonstrable, meaningful impact on student learning. 
  • Develop and implement a coordinated plan to promote best practices and foster a culture of high-quality, innovative teaching across the Metropolitan State University.
  • Develop opportunities to recognize and celebrate high-quality, innovative teaching across the University.
  • Develop opportunities to recognize and celebrate significant student learning.

Strategic Commitment #4: Strategically develop and maintain relationships and partnerships with urban and metropolitan area communities, businesses, non-profits, donors and alumni based on mutual benefit that clearly enriches the student learning experience, provide enhanced opportunities for students to meet their employment goals, influence the understanding of and value that local employers and the community afford to a baccalaureate level education, and/or advance the financial interests of the University.

Goal: Implement a coordinated and strategic plan for building and enhancing relationships and partnerships that will increase measures of community engagement, and the number of mutually beneficial relationships and partnerships between metropolitan area communities, businesses, non-profits, the public sector, philanthropists and the University.

  • Community engagement and the number of mutually beneficial relationships and partnerships will be measured using criteria and metrics developed as part of the planned activities, and goals will be developed after analyzing baseline data.
  • The Advancement Division will set annual goals for engaging individuals, alumni, and community partners, as well as fundraising goals for each of the groups.


  • Define and distinguish relationships and partnerships as well as criteria for measuring the strategic impact of each.
  • Inventory existing relationships and partnerships.
  • Using the identified criteria for determining strategic relationships and partnerships, evaluate existing ones to Identify gaps, or determine those which are not strategic, and develop a plan to reduce commitments or fill strategic gaps by the midpoint FY 2021.
  • Develop and launch tools and processes to enable coordinated partnership activities across Metropolitan State University to maximize partnerships and relationships and their value for students and the University through better alignment and coordination by the end of FY 2021.
  • Develop partnerships that align academic programs with regional workforce initiatives and leading employers.
  • Through curriculum alignment, student interactions with employers and the community, and thought leadership work, enhance the understanding of the value of both baccalaureate and graduate education.
  • Finalize the case statement for the comprehensive campaign including the specification of the goals, objectives and elements in the case for support for the comprehensive campaign by the end for FY 2021.
  • Complete the “quiet phase” of the comprehensive campaign by the end of FY 2024.

Strategic Commitment #5: Model a culture of respect, equity, and inclusion for students, faculty, staff, and partners.  

Goal: Operationalize equity and inclusion principles throughout the University to reduce bias and inequalities to improve student and employee success as measured by indicators of the campus climate.

  • One indicator of the campus climate are retention rates for faculty and staff. Our goal is to increase overall retention rates from 85.2% (for 2018 as reported by the MN State System Office) by 3% and narrow any disparities identified by at least 80%. Given the delays in MN State System Office reporting, human resources will develop other retention reports that will be used to monitor and set goals using quarterly data.  
  • Campus climate will be measured using the PACE survey and a campus climate survey selected as a result of the activity related to this strategic commitment.  The PACE survey results from 2018 indicated statistically significant negative experiences with equity and inclusion in supervisory relationships compared to the overall scores of all survey participants (Racial Diversity Subscale Report).  Our goal is to decrease the negative experiences of faculty and staff in their supervisory relationships in the next PACE survey administration in 2020.
  • Establish baseline measures for the selected campus climate survey in FY 2021 and develop a plan for improving the campus climate based on the analysis of the survey results.


  • Conduct a campus climate survey of faculty, staff, and students every other year, beginning fall of 2020 and use the results to develop equity, inclusion, and anti-racism priorities, and to evaluate improvement in the campus climate over time. 
  • Using a model that assigns leadership for campus climate improvement efforts to the  Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Affirmative Action and the Equity and Inclusion Council, coordinate efforts of existing equity, inclusion, and anti-racism programs and activities across campus that are informed by regular input from students, faculty, and staff. 
  • Use survey results and program models identified by a task force led by the Equity and Inclusion Officer and approved by the President to evaluate the effectiveness of current and future activities, and to improve or create new equity, inclusion, and anti-racism programs and activities.

Strategic Commitment #6: Build structural and foundational systems and processes that align physical, financial, and human resources to increase institutional efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability.

Goal: Develop, improve, and implement systems and processes that maximize institutional effectiveness, continuously improve operations, and achieve the University’s strategic commitments as measured by faculty, staff, and student evaluations of systems and processes.

  • Evaluation of improved systems and processes will be measured using criteria and metrics developed as part of the initiatives related to this strategic commitment and on-going goals will be developed after analyzing baseline data.
  • Survey items from the PACE survey related to institutional policies, organization, and processes (items 29, 32, and 44 on the PACE Report) will be reviewed after the next administration in 2020. Our goal is for faculty and staff to be more positive related to our 2018 responses.


  • By the end of FY 2020, identify process owners responsible for facilitating the identification, prioritization, implementation planning, and completion of initiatives for institutional process improvement and effectiveness, led by an individual who reports directly to the President.
  • Make effective use of existing shared governance mechanisms, such as University Councils and committees and consultations with bargaining unit representatives to assess additional system or process needs, further articulate goals, develop options, prioritize investments, and report on accomplishments.
  • Metropolitan State University will resolve or improve at least one foundational University process each year.

Additional Planning Activities to support achievement of the strategic commitments

Strategic Commitment

Planning Activity

Responsible VP/Area

Time Line for Completion of Plan

#1, #2, #6

Strategic enrollment management plan

VP for Marketing, Communication and Recruitment & Admissions

 June 2020

#1, #2, #5, #6

Comprehensive campaign plan implementation

VP for Advancement

Ongoing until completion of the campaign (target date is 2025)

#1, #2, #3, #6

Academic plan

Provost & Executive VP for Academic & Student Affairs

Spring 2021

#1, #2, #3

Student Success and Support plan

Associate Provost for Student Success/Provost 

July 2020

#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6

Rebranding, Marketing and Communication Plan

VP of Marketing, Communication and Recruitment

December 2020


Comprehensive Facilities Plan

VP for Finance and Operations

Spring 2020


Technology Plan

CIO/ VP for Information Technology 

Fall 2020


Anti-racism, inclusion and equity plan

VP for Equity, Inclusion and Affirmative Action

Fall 2021 (after completion of campus climate survey)

#1, #2, #6

Financial plan

VP for Finance and Operations


#5, #6

Campus safety and security plan

VP for Finance and Operations

Spring 2020

Glossary of Terms

Degree Completion: The percentage of students that complete a bachelor’s degree within six years of their first term at Metropolitan State University (regardless of transfer credits).

Course Completion: The percentage of attempted courses that are successfully completed by earning a C- or better.

Persistence Data: The percentage of students who registered in consecutive fall semesters.

Premier Urban University: A higher educational institution that primarily concentrates services to urban studentsA U.S. term for an institution of higher learning that is socially involved and serves as a resource for educating the citizens and improving the economic, social and civic health of the city or region in which it is located.

Anti-Racist Learning Community: A learning environment that is free from oppression, bullying, and intimidation, and encourages participation in higher education among all ethnically diverse groups. This community works together to achieve a consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional, and systemic racism as well as eliminating oppressive practices. 

Civic Engagement: Describes individuals and/or institutions that are working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference through higher education. It means promoting the quality of life in a community and higher education, through both political and non-political processes.

Post-Traditional Learner: Post-traditional learners are a diverse group of adult learners of any age, full-time employees, low-income students, students who commute to school, and/or are working parents.  In general, post-traditional learners have one or more of the following characteristics: they delay enrollment in college after high school, they attend part time for at least part of an academic year, they work full time while also enrolled in school, they are financially independent or they have dependents (spouse and/or children), they are first generation learners, and they do not live on campus (non-residential).

High Impact practice (HIP): High-impact practices, or HIPs, are active learning practices that promote deep learning by promoting student engagement as measured by the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE). Achievement of deep learning, significant engagement gains, and positive differential impact on historically underserved student populations. Examples include: first year seminars and experiences, common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing intensive courses, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity/global learning, service learning/community-based learning, internships, and capstone courses/projects.

Partnerships: Collaboration among community residents and stakeholders, staff, faculty, students, administration, working together to promote the mission and vision of the University. Partnerships focuses on collaborative interactions between campus and community for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration and application of knowledge, information and resources. 

University-Community Partnerships: This definition includes, university sponsored collaborations dedicated to improvements involving the student community, administrators, faculty, and staff in promoting a mutually beneficial exchange between the institution and external stakeholders including: businesses, non-profit organizations, health care facilities and clinics, and institutions of higher education that share a common vision to Metropolitan State University. 

Interdisciplinary: Involves the combining of two or more academic disciplines into one shared learning experience that enhance the educational process. 

Cross-Functionality: A group of individuals of different functional expertise working for a common goal.