On Jan. 6, 2020, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., charged co-chairs Vennie Gore and Joseph Salem and an 18-person committee comprising administrators, faculty, staff and students to engage in a strategic planning process for the university. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) was asked to examine the current state of MSU to identify themes, strengths and opportunities across campus as well to understand the changing landscape for higher education in the 21st century and overall environment for publicly funded, research-intensive institutions.
The SPSC was asked to facilitate an open and inclusive process to address questions about how to position MSU as a model, next-generation land-grant institution; leverage our collective resources to anticipate evolving societal needs and establish cross-institutional priorities and initiatives; and consider the impact of the fourth industrial revolution and new economy on research, instruction and outreach.
The SPSC met weekly or biweekly for 18 months, including several joint meetings with the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee, which was charged with simultaneously developing the university’s first comprehensive DEI strategic plan. The SPSC co-chairs also met regularly with the co-chairs of the DEI and RVSM planning committees to foster collaboration and ensure coordination across the efforts. During spring 2020, the SPSC reflected on the university’s mission and focused on institutional core values, engaging in deep discussion and gathering input from the MSU community.
In March 2020, 106 faculty, staff, administrators, students and trustees attended a leadership retreat to complete an analysis of MSU’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and develop observations on 18 topical areas to inform planning (full report). Further engagement with community stakeholders during spring 2020 was paused with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, COVID-19 became an additional consideration as we envisioned the university in the aftermath of the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery.
During late spring through fall 2020, an environmental scan covered trends in higher education; MSU benchmarks; the university’s long-term financial picture; external perceptions of MSU; diversity, equity and inclusion; student success and enrollment management; research activities; MSU Extension and outreach; and international activities.
In summer 2020, the SPSC focused in-depth inquiry in four areas: values, the optimal scope and scale of MSU, online learning and institutional resources. A fifth focused inquiry group formed in spring 2021 examined how MSU should frame and articulate its land-grant history and mission in alignment with its values (focused inquiry group reports). From October through December 2020, through online feedback forms and 28 live engagement sessions, the SPSC gathered input from 220 faculty, 350 staff, 120 students and 65 alumni about a draft set of values and how they might shape the future of MSU.
In December 2020, five groups used the various inputs and materials to generate framing documents in the areas of undergraduate education, graduate education, research, external/community engagement and internal operations. In January 2021, SPSC members used these framing documents to develop an initial articulation of strategic themes. In February and March 2021, subcommittees formed around six strategic themes worked to further refine the themes and articulate preliminary goals, potential actions and illustrative metrics. The documents they produced were forwarded to the writing team for use in producing a discussion draft for circulation to university leaders and trustees. Through a series of discussion sessions, the draft also was shared with some of Michigan State’s most successful, generous and engaged alumni from across the country, most of whom are actively leading corporations that represent a variety of sectors. The final plan, reflecting input and refinements from many facets of the Spartan community, was finalized and endorsed by the Board of Trustees in September 2021.
Michigan State’s values were identified and defined through an inclusive, participatory process. During 2019-20, each of the separately charged presidential strategic planning initiatives created opportunities for broad-based engagement with students, faculty, staff and alumni to gather input about values that should guide institutional planning. The groups also reviewed historical and current institutional documents, such as prior strategic plans and their value statements. All input was eventually integrated by a cross-initiative committee to create a single set of values for presentation to the president and Board of Trustees for review and discussion. MSU’s values have been endorsed by the Board of Trustees, President Stanley and the university’s leadership team.
An incredible number of people contributed to the development of this plan, from students, faculty, staff, parents, donors, community members and friends who took the time to provide input online or participate in a virtual engagement session. We are particularly grateful for the engagement of senior leaders and the Board of Trustees. We extend thanks and appreciation to all contributors and participants. Your engagement makes this plan our plan. With special appreciation, we acknowledge the contributions of those listed below.
Note: * indicates Strategic Planning members who are also on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee