A five-year look-ahead and the path to our preferred future
Dear Coug Community,
I want to thank everyone for taking the opportunity to participate in our strategic planning process. Faculty, staff, students, and community members played a pivotal role in helping us craft a plan that will guide Washington State University Tri-Cities over the next five years and beyond. The resulting strategy will help us determine our priorities, including budgeting, and act as a bellwether for imagining and bringing to fruition our desired future.
Read the rest of the Message from Chancellor Haynes
As I write this, I am at home under the State of Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders, modified phase 1. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many more unknowns in the future. We know that higher education will be impacted and that we will recover from the economic realities of the pandemic, but there are many positive outcomes, as well. Lessons learned from the change from face-to-face instruction to virtual learning will help us keep best practices in pedagogy. Student Services have changed as well as providing greater access for students. We will continue to implement the positive aspects and efficiencies gained during this time. Our research tells us, however, that demand for higher education will remain strong in our region. We will scale-up to serve the needs of a diverse and fast-growing population, address the local degree gap and accommodate the needs of a rapidly diversifying industry base. We will focus on our strengths in research and continue to grow around key areas.
With that in mind, we will still need to adjust along the way. We have adopted a continuous improvement model for our strategic plan and as a campus and community, we will monitor our progress, hold each other accountable, reevaluate our environment annually, and make the appropriate adjustments as we go. In this way, we will maintain a relevant five-year look ahead period.
I want to give a special thank you to the many members of our planning teams. A big thank you to our leaders Sarah Tragesser, Ray White, and John Mancinelli, who skillfully guided us through this process. They received support from the other members of the steering committee, Kate McAteer, Zach Harper, and Paul Carlisle. They were joined by the planning team, Eadie Balint, Christopher Cree, Patrick Jensen, Brian Moreno, Mohamed Osman, Anna Plemons, Jordyn Creighton, Maegan Murray, and Oscar Carrillo, all of whom volunteered many hours to sift through data and help set the objectives. Their work was augmented by input from our strategic advisors, Naidu Rayapati, Manuel Garcia-Perez, Joan Giese, Michael Mays, Farion Williams, Thomas Henick-Kling, Christine Portfors, and Vicki Gordon. We had a great mix of faculty, staff, and community members, and their commitment, authentic engagement, and thoughtful discourse has driven this ambitious project to its successful completion.
Through this process, and the planning documents it has produced, a bright future was revealed for WSU Tri-Cities. We have so much to be proud of and we will do what it takes to enhance a sense of pride in what we do as the only public land-grant, R1 university in the region. We are a valuable part of the Washington State University system and have much to contribute to the Drive to 25. We know we have what it takes. Working together, we will create our preferred future.
At WSU Tri-Cities, the chancellor leads the iterative planning effort as the executive sponsor, providing guidance for faculty co-chairs and planning teams at each phase of development.
Phase I – A small steering committee did the preliminary “planning to plan” work, conducting internal and external environmental scanning, focus groups, town halls and preliminary surveys. They also prepared the Baseline Study – an inventory and analysis of the institution’s environment key functional areas. Through this work, three common values and six distinct themes were identified.
The overarching values of distinctiveness, relevance and inclusiveness were integral in all of our conversations and are woven throughout this document. Within this environment, six broad strategic themes emerged, which were refined into our strategic goals.
Phase II – A strategic planning team studied the data and developed broad goals for each of the strategic themes. Team members (20+) represent faculty, staff, students and community partners. Through a series of workshops and presentations, they synthesized and prioritized the collected information. Broad goals were crafted to become our institutional priorities for the next five years.
Phase III – An implementation and planning support team develops strategic objectives for accomplishing our goals. They also work with academic and operational units to identify the specific strategies and metrics to track in each area. This standing committee is charged with supporting, tracking and reporting progress toward strategic goals. They also facilitate the annual refresh of the rolling five-year strategic plan.
Five-Year Rolling Plan
Unique to WSU Tri-Cities is an implementation process that reviews and rewrites the plan annually through an inclusive and transparent planning process. It is a rolling five-year look-ahead that is monitored and reviewed each year. This strategic planning process leads directly into the local budgeting process at WSU Tri-Cities, thereby informing critical resource allocation.
Outlook and Environment
Conducting a thorough environmental scan, planning teams considered relevant trends affecting higher education from five lenses: social, technological, economic, environmental and political (STEEP analysis). From this analysis, fifteen trends were prioritized for the WSU Tri-Cities to address in this five-year plan. In addition, local economic, demographic and political environments were analyzed and yielded important data and insights about continuing demand.
Benton-Franklin Economic Trends data suggests that WSU Tri-Cities explore strategies that engage adult learners and high school graduates differently. Significant growth and shifts in workforce demands will require WSU Tri-Cities to adapt. While this may sound ominous, in reality, adaptation is the strength of liberal arts education. WSU Tri-Cities’ ability to develop critical thinkers who learn and adapt will be key to meeting industry demands.