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    August 8, 2022 | Institutional Planning, Conference

    Insights from SCUP 2022: Integrated Planning's Role in the Changing Landscape of Higher Education

    Designing an effective plan of study, a business plan or running plan all have one thing in common: a purpose. Creating a plan, because someone told you to, or because it is required implies that you are just following the rules and perhaps have no skin in the game. The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) suggests that planning begins by having tough conversations, digging into current practices, and leading your institution toward a culture of integrated planning which includes purpose, process and of course people. SCUP defines institutional effectiveness as “an institution’s effort to organize evaluation, assessment, and improvement initiatives so the institution can determine how well it is fulfilling its mission and achieving its goals.” And in late July, myself, members of the HelioCampus team and higher education leaders across the country came together at the 2022 SCUP Annual Conference to learn from each other to assess current planning challenges and perhaps find solutions that might help create a more collaborative culture for planning and improvement.

    Sessions kicked off and ended with the theme of preparing students and higher education leaders for the future of work. “Learning is the new pension” was an underlying theme across all sessions, giving attendees the latitude and space to hone in on what they know now and what they want to learn and apply in practice at their institutions in the future. 

    I had the pleasure of moderating a session led by our colleagues from the University of Southern Mississippi and University of Maryland Global Campus entitled, Data-Driven Integrated Planning: Practical Tips to Adapt at Your Institution.” The case study driven session enabled Dr. Doug Masterson, Senior Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness at USM and Dr. Chris Davis, Vice President of Academic Services and Quality at UMGC to tell their respective stories of how they were able to transform their planning process from one of isolation to transparency. At the center of both plans was the ability to facilitate a planning process that provided access to key data with clear expectations and accountability of these data to stakeholder groups who could have conversations with their departments and units about where they should be spending their resources to best impact student learning outcomes. Both leaders spoke of the importance of partnership both among institutional stakeholders and external ones who can bring their expertise in to advance the integrated planning process. They also identified that planning is not something that is done once (for accreditation for instance) but rather an iterative and ongoing process that includes all stakeholders and their contribution to the mission and vision of the institution. 

    More than 80 attendees took part in an active learning exercise where they discussed planning challenges and opportunities focusing on the need for faculty participation, facilities and other unit contributions along with establishing technology implementation models. Pedagogical processes coupled with a technology infrastructure is where our conversations landed as far as next steps for more effective and efficient planning and future discussions with their core stakeholders. 

    There are so many opportunities to learn about your institution when you set that as your purpose and intention for planning. And while you are in the process, you are also studying your institutional effectiveness, meeting the needs of your compliance certification, identifying growth opportunities through program review and of course the evolving needs of your students.

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