More than 400 members of the university community gathered in the Portola Pavilions of the Titan Student Union on Friday to attend a town hall meeting. The topic was the strategic plan that will guide Cal State Fullerton for the next five years.
The congregation included faculty representatives from CSUF departments, University Police, students and administrators, as well as President Mildred García.
“I know that together with the Fullerton community, we will accomplish great things,” Garcia said in her opening comments.
The focus of the meeting was to gather people involved in the university community and get their feedback on the strategic plan. Specifically, the aim was to trim down the list of goals, which currently stands at 25.
“This is not a letter to Santa Claus,” said Jolene Koester, Ph.D., the facilitator for the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. “This is a set of priorities.”
Koester said 25 goals is far too many, and that having six to eight goals or fewer would be more ideal.
“You can’t do 25 goals. You can’t possibly achieve that,” Koester said.
The meeting was organized so that participants sat in groups at small, circular tables. These groups were encouraged to discuss the Strategic Plan and whittle down the 25 goals to a more reasonable number, by removing goals that they felt were either too vague or simply weren’t strategic.
“Strategic” means that the goal would include something that goes beyond the everyday operations of the campus. One goal that nearly the entire room elected to remove was a proposal to support excellence in instruction and in the learning environment. Attendees at the town hall agreed that this is something that the school does already, and as such is not a strategic goal.
Some of the objectives that were more popular included improving student persistence, narrowing the achievement gap for underrepresented students and increasing graduation rates, as well as another that focused on improving campus facilities and laying out a plan for future space needs on campus.
Feedback from the town hall meeting was sent to the planning committee using laptops and tablets provided for each table.
Following the town hall meeting, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will look at the feedback and use it to refine the plan down to six to eight goals.
Starting in December and moving through February, working groups will be created around each of the remaining goals and will focus on assessing how to actually accomplish each one, as well as potential funding options.
In spring 2013, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee will present a draft of the completed strategic plan to the campus in a town hall meeting similar to the one held Friday.
The strategy discussed at the meeting has been in the making for nearly five years now.
The need for strategic planning to address the campus’ needs was first brought up in 2007. Last year, a plan was turned over to the committee, but it had no clearly defined goals. Now, with a fresh Strategic Planning Steering Committee and an official facilitator acting to help get the plan finished, the school is on track to finally establish the plan.
However, Koester noted in her address at the town hall meeting that any given strategic plan will only address five years of work at a time; so five years from now the campus will need to develop a new course of action.
Attendees like Marsha Orr, a nursing professor, felt this first meeting was successful
“It really felt like the university leaders were reaching out to get a lot of input into where we’re going,” she said. “And not only faculty, but also all levels of faculty and staff, and students, so it was really great.”