To: PLU Faculty and Staff
From: Office of the President
At University Fall Conference, I had the honor of highlighting the progress we have made during the challenges of the past two years. I also had an opportunity to share with you and look forward to major advancements that we will continue to accomplish together as we prepare for the arrival of our next president.
Following the work of the Faculty Joint Committee and in concert with the difficult continuing work of implementing those recommendations, our PLU community has taken on a number of strategic efforts aimed at securing our programmatic and fiscal sustainability. These efforts include, but are not limited to, the drafting of a Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on General Education Review and Revision, the development of an academic identity statement, the creation of a diversity and inclusion statement and strategic plan, efforts to support institutional accreditation, the work of the campaign task force, and our efforts to reclaim our Lutheran higher education narrative.
The importance and complexity of these efforts is daunting, but it is also a clear reflection of our shared commitment to ensuring the future of this amazing institution. Your voices have been loud and impassioned.
From the very early days of my acting presidency, I have observed a common, clarion call from faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of the Board of Regents alike. PLU must move forward with a real, comprehensive strategic plan that builds on our mission, succinctly states our long term vision, and provides a measurable roadmap into our next chapter. I am also hearing that the time to move forward with this effort is now–that we can’t afford to wait. We can’t afford it from a morale perspective, and we can’t afford it when we think of the competitive higher education landscape. I am confident that this concrete step forward will contribute significantly to our continued healing.
In response to what I perceived to be an emerging sense of urgency to begin our next chapter, the final and perhaps most important action I called for at fall conference was to bring together all of these initiatives, and all the great work of divisions, ad hoc groups, and committees across campus so that we might begin, in earnest, the work to complete a comprehensive strategic plan for PLU that builds on and moves beyond PLU 2020. I am writing today to announce that we are moving forward with this initiative by composing a draft strategic plan to hand to our next president. This draft strategic plan should be considered a work-in-progress, expressing the vision that flows from our mission, and accurately capturing our work to date and our proposed next steps, but with opportunity for our new president to offer vision and guidance before the document is considered final.
As befitting their charge to “study and analyze key issues and to recommend policy regarding future directions and priorities of the university”, the Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC) will oversee and coordinate the completion of this draft plan. In thinking through how to accomplish this project, LRPC has been discussing the benefits of bringing in a consultant: someone who could help us link our various strategic efforts and perhaps see connections that those of us operating “in the weeds” of the projects may be unable to see. LRPC weighed the competing benefits of internal knowledge (and institutional memory) that a member of our community could bring against the fresh perspective an outsider might offer for such important work. Ultimately, the committee determined that a consultant with expertise in higher education, broadly, and PLU, specifically, could assist us both in synthesizing our various strategic efforts and in helping us identify areas we may have overlooked.
On behalf of LRPC, I have invited Dr. Patricia O’Connell Killen, PLU’s former Provost and longtime Professor of Religion, to serve in this capacity. I am pleased to announce that she has graciously agreed to rejoin our community for this purpose. Those of you who know Dr. Killen understand what a gift her presence on campus–and her dedicated attention to our project–will be.
The project of preparing a draft strategic plan will be equal parts process and product. Directed by LRPC, Dr. Killen will begin the project by meeting with various campus stakeholders to better understand their strategic efforts to date. Through these conversations, she will serve as a mirror to reflect back to us what she hears us saying about ourselves. We also expect Dr. Killen to use her accumulated wisdom from her time as a PLU faculty member, PLU provost, and former provost at Gonzaga University to inform critical questions she might ask us to deepen our thinking about our work.
What emerges from those conversations will feed into the creation of a university vision statement, created in partnership with the entire campus community. The vision statement will be grounded in the university’s mission. Further, it will contribute to articulating the connection between the university’s mission and current strategic efforts. It is my expectation that through this work, Dr. Killen will support LRPC in synthesizing current efforts and identifying any potential gaps in the development of a 3-5 year draft strategic plan with actionable, measurable items, timelines and designated accountability.
LRPC, with Dr. Killen’s support and guidance, will engage with our campus community throughout the winter and spring, with the goal of delivering a draft strategic plan to me in late April for consideration by the Board of Regents in May. This timeline will allow us to engage the next president in completing the final details of the strategic plan, which can then be fully implemented.
Please join me in thanking the multitude of faculty, staff and students who continue to do such meaningful and strategic work on behalf of PLU. Please also join me in thanking members of the Long Range Planning Committee and Dr. Killen for the important project they are about to undertake.
Because the world needs more Lutes.