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Strategic Planning

Building A Resilient, Student Ready University
Strategic Plan, 2020-2024

Strategic Commitments, Goals, Proposed Activities

Proposed Activities were developed by the Strategic Planning Task Force at the time the plan was written and have been used as a starting point for the annual strategic activity workplan created each year. Ongoing updates on the strategic activity workplan and progress to date is will be maintained in My.Metro in the President’s Office Articles and News, starting in November 2020.

1—Student Success

Strategic Commitment: 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.

Proposed Activities:

  • 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.

2—High-quality Education

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

Goal: Define 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.  

Proposed Activities:

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: 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.

Goal: Increase the adoption of and recognize faculty for high-quality, innovative teaching practices in order to positively impact student learning as measured by 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. 

Proposed Activities:

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 identify high-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.

4—Strong Partnerships

Strategic Commitment: Strategically develop and maintain relationships and partnerships with urban and metropolitan area communities, businesses, nonprofits, donors and alumni based on mutual benefit that clearly enriches the student learning experience, provides enhanced opportunities for students to meet their employment goals, and/or advances 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, nonprofits, the public sector, philanthropists and the university.

Proposed Activities:

  • 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.

5—Respect, Equity, and Inclusion

Strategic Commitment: 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 and to improve student and employee success as measured by indicators of the campus climate.

Proposed Activities:

  • 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.

6—Institutional Effectiveness and Stability

Strategic Commitment: 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.

Proposed Activities:

  • 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.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Annual reporting on KPIs will be used to show progress being made on the plan. Prior year KPIs will be published by mid-November in My.Metro in the President’s Office Articles and News.

  • Increase degree and course completion and persistence by 3%
  • Narrow the opportunity gap by at least 80%
  • Increase overall related employed rate for graduates from 71.6% to 76.6%
  • Achieve or exceed the goals for institutional and program level assessment for student learning
  • Increase student participation in more than 2 high impact practices from 76% to 80%,
  • Improve scores on national normed indicators of effective teaching and learning environment
  • Increase the number of mutually beneficial strategic relationships and partnerships.
  • Increase recruitment and retention rates for faculty and staff, including hose belonging to underrepresented communities.
  • Increase student and employee success by improving indicators of the campus climate.

Building the Strategic Plan

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.

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 were collected for FY 20. These w­­­orkplans include both master plan or divisional related activities (projects, initiatives) as well as any centrally-identified strategic activities assigned to the division. 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.

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