Faculty, staff celebrate new strategic plan

By Matt Daray


Chancellor Rita Cheng formally introduced new goals for the university during a reception Wednesday.

The university’s new strategic plan, called Pathways to Excellence, replaces the 10-year old previous plan, Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Comittment. The last strategic plan had many long-term goals, Cheng said, but recent changes and request for a new one from the Higher Learning Commission caused the university to take a different direction.


Southern at 150 included goals such as recruiting 100 highly-qualified professors and reaching an enrollment of 25,000 students or more. Pathways to Excellence is focused more on student development and success. Several instructors agreed the new plan is what the university needs given the state’s economic issues.

The university will focus more on student success by improving student engagement, fostering a safe campus environment and boosting post-graduation success, according to the new plan. It also includes goals such as improving retention and completion rates, providing state-of-the-art facilities and improving flexibility and transparency in decision-making.

Cheng said the celebration was held to recognize all of the faculty’s hard work and move the university ahead with a stronger student focus.

“We’ve come together to recognize the hard work that resulted in our new strategic plan, to celebrate the many accomplishments and reaffirm our commitment to our students and to our society,” Cheng said.

Several staff members said the new strategic plan provided the university a great way to keep growing, and the celebration helped to recognize the planning committee’s hard work.

Beth Mohlenbrock, advancement services executive director, said the plan is a point the university can move forward from.

“I think it’s always important to take time to celebrate and to recognize that (in) the context of challenging times, we’re moving forward and that we are working for the betterment of the university and the community,” she said.


Mohlenbrock said the new plan is great for the direction the university needs to take in order to succeed. She said it can’t be compared with the old plan because different factors such as more reliable income from the state.

Jim Carl, undergraduate admissions associate director, said it is important to have a plan and be able to move forward as a university and adapt to the times.

“It’s kind of a new start in the sense that (the administration has) a concrete plan that they thought through and they’ve got something to move forward with,” he said. “They’ve been working this one, parts of it over the last couple of years, but now they kind of got the whole thing together.”

Dafna Lemish, college of mass communications interim dean, said she supports the new plan and the university can be proud of it.

“I think it’s really a true celebration because I think every organization, even in difficult times, needs something to look forward to, some goal, some horizon that you are working toward,” she said.

Lemish said the plan will provide more connection between the university and the community. While some goals may take time to accomplish, she said, everything is achievable.

“This strategic plan is a goal you want to work towards,” she said. “Of course you want to get farther, want to get closer to it … (it) doesn’t mean you have or can achieve all the goals in the short run. But you want to have a vision, want something to work up towards.”

Matt Daray can be reached at [email protected] or 536-3311 ext. 254.