New strategic plan sets course

Strategic plan updated for student enrollment

SUNY Buffalo State has released the newest version of its strategic plan that outlines the college’s goals for the next three years.

The 2014-17 Strategic Plan defines six directions that the college will take to ensure Buffalo State’s reputation and future as an institution.

The first direction focuses on the learning experience of students at Buffalo State. The plan calls for a revision to the freshman experience as well as a more integrated advising experience and a continued assessment of effective teaching.

Other directions include improvements to research, regional service, academic distinctiveness, governance and enrollment and retention.

It is expected that all six directions will start at the same time. Buffalo State provost Dennis Ponton, who is responsible for leading and coordinating the strategic plan, said working groups will be established to develop an implementation plan and they will seek input from the campus community.

The new plan contains five of the same basic directions as the 2009-13 Strategic Plan. However, this time around, enrollment and retention has been designated as its own direction. In the previous plan, they fell under the umbrella of student engagement.

A list of priority objectives was developed at a December 2013 meeting of the College Planning Council for each these directions such as increasing the number of undergraduates with research experience, increasing the number of service-learning courses, and establishing 10 or more fully online degree or certificate programs to attract new students.

Buffalo State will continue to utilize the National Survey of Student Engagement- an assessment used to monitor student participation as it relates to learning- in order to monitor the progress and success of the six directions.

This new plan marks the first time the Strategic Plan will last for three years as opposed to the traditional five years. Ponton said there were a couple factors contributing to the shorter timeframe for the new plan.

The old five-year-cycle for new Strategic Plans coincided with either a decennial visit from the Middle States Association- the regional accreditation organization for Buffalo State, or with the report that is required every five years by Middle States.

“Separation of the two efforts seemed to be best for the institution in view of the accreditation cycle,” Ponton said. “A three-year time frame will provide a new president the opportunity to revisit the strategic plan in a relatively short time.”

Before a new Strategic Plan can be adopted, it requires approval from the president’s cabinet and Ponton does not envision the current presidential search delaying implementation since the cabinet has been fully engaged in the process of developing the new plan.

Ponton said there is excitement for the plan, knowing what it can do for the future of Buffalo State.

“Most excitement is around using high-impact learning experiences to distinguish and differentiate the Buffalo State educational experience,” Ponton said. “This will support further identity development, give students clarity on what expectations are at Buffalo State and advance the student-centered emphasis of the college.”

Ponton accepted comments and feedback relating to the Strategic Plan through May 1. The next step is to secure final approval from the president’s cabinet. The Strategic Planning Committee is aiming to implement the groups that will be responsible for guiding and monitoring the priorities for each of the six strategic directions by June 1.


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