Although the IU East's previous Strategic Plan was dated 2014-2019, it also coincided with the IU Bicentennial Strategic Plan, which was timed to culminate with the end of the IU Bicentennial celebration in June 2020. This provided the leeway to stretch our 2014-19 plan to June 2020, a bit beyond its planned end date.
Nonetheless, in anticipation of the end of the Bicentennial, we began a refresh of our IU East Strategic Plan in early spring semester 2020. In February 2020, we held a number of interactive, in-person Strategic Planning Refresh Sessions. We finished campus meetings with faculty, staff and students prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. We were able to get community input from our Board of Advisors during the summer of 2020 using a survey.
The intention of the refresh work was to get input and ideas about IU East priorities for the next three years from faculty, staff, students and community. It was important to identify what priorities still resonated with our constituents as well as what priorities might need to be modified or added.
It was clear that we have a firm mission as a regional campus of Indiana University, and we are not going to make any “major turns” from that mission, but we wanted to look at the horizon to see what our external environment looked like, and then update our campus priorities.
In the Spring 2020 refresh work, we considered the following:
Be an environment in which diverse students complete degrees and realize aspirations with minimal financial burden
Provide high quality, multi-modal teaching and learning
Offer degree programs focused on career advancement, civic engagement and global stewardship
Be an active partner in the economic, educational and cultural development of the community and the region
Present a campus culture of intellectual pursuit, experimentation and inclusiveness
Increase educational attainment in the region
Commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in all our endeavors
Commitment to adaptive leadership and innovation
These future priorities were identified by the Chancellor’s Review Committee in the Fall of 2019 and ranked by faculty and staff in a survey the Review Committee conducted (listed alphabetically):
Athletics & the development of sports presence on campus
Collaboration with external constituents
Community engagement activities
External relations & gift development
Faculty and staff recruitment & retention
Graduate programs development
Green energy development & green practices
Marketing & promotion of IU East programs & activities
Meeting the educational & employment needs of region
Online program development
Recruitment activities with K-12 regional schools
Scholarships, job opportunities, basic needs support for students
Particularly the strong demographic downturn and decreased demand for higher education predicted in the Midwest, as well as the growth of online education nationwide (in all types of institutions).
Including improving retention and student success, as well as our strengths and experience in online education, which can serve both fully online students as well provide flexibility for all students, including face-to-face on campus students.
The spring refresh work showed us that Priority 1 from the 2014-19 Strategic Plan (“Student Success”) was the “clear winner”—it very much still resonates with our constituents. While we have accomplished a lot in this area, much more remains to be done.
Moreover, when we look at the “overarching themes” as well as the “possible future initiatives,” those that ranked high in our refresh work also fit very well with this priority. For example, the underlying theme of this priority (“An Environment in which Diverse Students Complete Degrees . . .”) is enrollment, which must be a focus for us, given both the upcoming demographic cliff, the drop in local community college enrollment, and what we have seen with recent enrollment trends (and remembering that enrollment includes retention as well as incoming new students).
In addition, another important aspect of Priority 1 is that it talks about diverse students completing degrees. In our refresh process, “Diversity Initiatives” was another of the possible future initiatives that ranked high. While we continue to diversify our student body, we need to focus on diversity and equity in terms of student success.
There are several additional areas of interest that were mentioned during the spring 2020 refresh process, as follows:
We are in the “people business” and our human capital is our most fundamental asset. Moreover, this is particularly important in the time of COVID, when our work world has changed—and some of these changes are likely to remain even post-COVID. Diversity and equity concerns are also very pertinent here as well.
This is, of course, our basic mission, and so it is an underlying theme that we need to keep in mind as we look at our academic programs and academic plan. Community engagement is a key pillar of our mission, and continues to be a focus for our campus. Another aspect to think about now in this context is what our work world will look like post-COVID. The topic of how the future workplace will likely be different is being discussed widely, and we’ll need to think about how we will prepare students for the future.
This clearly fits with enrollment and meeting the needs of our region (and beyond). As we think about online teaching and learning, we’ll need to challenge ourselves. As early adopters of online education, we do many things well in this arena, and have a lot of experience. But with so many institutions moving into online learning (even pre-COVID, and now even more so), we’ll need to articulate this for ourselves—what differentiates us from other institutions who also “do online”? What makes us distinctive?
This came out as a priority in our spring refresh work, and a regional campus of Indiana University, high quality teaching is fundamental. However, we developed some focus around this area following our campus participation in the Regional Chancellors Leadership Series held on September 10, 2020. About 40 academic leaders from our campus participated in a lively discussion about teaching and learning. This led to the formation of a Task Force on Experiential and Innovative Learning, which is working to ensure that we are at the forefront of experiential and innovative learning, for both our Face-to-Face and Online students. Areas the task force is considering include field experiences, research, service learning, internships, and travel. The Task Force is also looking at how we can see COVID as an opportunity to innovate—to change the way education occurs.
The IU East Faculty Senate passed a Sustainability Resolution in December of 2019, and our Student Government Association voted to support the resolution. Other IU campuses followed with their own resolutions, and in April of 2020, the University Faculty Council approved a Sustainability Resolution as well. In keeping with these resolutions, we have formed a Sustainability Office and an Environmental Resiliency Committee, and are pursuing sustainability initiatives in line with the long-term goal of achieving carbon neutrality.
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