Collaboration has been the cornerstone of Mississippi University for Women's strategic plan, which serves as a roadmap to chart the university’s path forward for the next five years.
Last year, the university extended its five-year strategic plan for a sixth year and President Nora Miller convened the Strategic Planning Task Force co-chaired by Dr. Kimberly Dorsey and Melinda Lowe.
The 25-member committee met at least once a week for over two months to develop priorities, goals and objectives that emerged from committee members and the university’s constituent groups.
Miller said, “Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to have these large group gatherings – although we did include broad participation of the committee members via Zoom – and some open listening sessions that were also handled virtually.
“Our process this time focused more on looking at what we had accomplished in the last plan, refining that and taking it another step further.”
Miller charged the task force with reviewing the university’s mission, vision and guiding principles in addition to existing plans, including athletics, enrollment, facilities and technology. “They also reviewed data in our factbook as they developed their recommendations for our strategic priorities for the next five years. I did tell them that we needed to strengthen our DEI priority.”
Dorsey added, “It was quickly decided that we would use Zoom as a virtual meeting medium, but we still had to decide how to get such a large team to such an important end in such a short period of time. We decided to begin with two-weeks (two Fridays) of informational presentations from leaders of various areas across the campus. From these presentations, we were able to identify what had been accomplished over the last five years, what needed to be continued or changed, and what had risen to new levels of importance.
“It was from these sessions that the team decided on the six priorities that would guide us for the next five years. To meet the demands of the short timeline, the task force was divided into theme teams, allowing each group to further work on the overarching university goals and objectives for each of the pillars, simultaneously.”
The strategic plan is driven by six pillars, including academic excellence; advancement excellence; community connections; degree completion; diversity, equity and inclusion; and financial sustainability.
Academics are at the heart of a W education. Our dedicated faculty, respected in their fields, champion a commitment to teaching shaped by their research, scholarship and creative expressions.
A strength of any institution is the level of engagement with those it serves. At The W, that includes a diversity of constituents: students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, the community and elected officials.
The W’s unique niche is not confined by geographic boundaries. By serving its communities through programs and partnerships, both locally and globally, the university will continue to communicate its value and explore ways to create significant impact through its areas of strength.
The W recognizes that Degree Completion requires recruitment, retention and support through graduation and into a career. We aim to provide holistic support for all students throughout their time at the university.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, & INCLUSION
The W is on a mission to create a welcoming, diverse, equitable and inclusive campus climate for all. As the university strives to reach the highest levels of academic excellence, it’s also essential that the university fosters an environment where all members of the campus community can flourish.
A financial model supports the efforts and goals of academics, student services and the campus as a whole. The W’s mission-driven approach involves clear strategic planning and actions that ensure the ongoing financial health of the university.
The university’s last strategic plan was done in 2014 and 2015--drawn out over 17 months.
“It was to cover us through FY 20- we extended that plan an additional year because of COVID. The process we followed this year was very different for a few reasons,” Miller said. “The former process started two years into Dr. Borsig’s presidency, and we had gone through an extensive rebranding and visioning process that included participation from a broad group, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and community members. It focused more on a changed direction.”
Despite the pandemic, Miller said the campus was able to maintain some connections through technology.
Moving forward, she said, “We will be able to invite virtual participation in some of our events in the future. I also see the benefits that document management and workflow software will enable us to work remotely if needed and will improve our efficiency, too.”
Buy-in from campus will be key to the success of this plan, Miller said. “We’ve asked departments to base their budget requests and their assessment plans on these priorities. We are going to have to keep this in front of everyone and highlight what we are doing to achieve these objectives.”
The plan was rolled out at fall Convocation and during Fall Development Series. Also, there were virtual campus listening sessions.
Dorsey said, “I love the plan and where it is designed to take The W over the next five years. Each of these pillars and goals are necessary for this university to grow into an even brighter beacon, as we continue to provide guidance, light and inspiration to all of our constituents–students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community.
Lowe and Dorsey agreed that developing this plan required a lot of hard, but important work. “I loved co-chairing with Melinda, and we could not have had a better team. They put their heart and head into this because they want to see the continued success of this university,” Dorsey added.
“Our commitment to excellence, equity and engagement fueled the development of a comprehensive strategic plan that builds authentically on The W’s distinctive strengths and imagines ambitiously the university’s future,” said Lowe. “It was an honor working with President Miller, Dr. Dorsey, the task force team and the entire campus community as we reflected, engaged and collaboratively thought about our university’s future.”
In Focus: The W's Strategic Priorities
The University's Priorities:
Pillars of Purpose: Priorities 2021
In Fall 2021, a task force of 25 people from throughout the campus community revised the university's strategic plan, guiding The W for the next five years.
A United Liberal Arts Voice
Donors Challenged to 'Be The Light'
A Summer of Enrichment
Building a Bridge
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion:
Committed to Change
Mise en Place
The full Priorities 2021 strategic plan can be found at www.muw.edu/priorities.