Our strategic thinking and planning exercises moved into the next phase, Design Teams, in recent months. This Design Phase asks the question “What should Montclair look like in 2025?” when we succeed at executing the new strategic plan. Teams of community members met over the summer to answer this question relative to our 4 strategic pillars: 1) Leading in Higher Education, 2) Growing Research, 3) Student Diversity, Access, and Success, and 4) Changing the Culture for Innovation.
Each design team developed goal statements and started identifying specific criteria to plot the direction for our future. Community members from across the institution came together to discuss visions for the future and pathways to get there.
The Higher Education Design Team, Pillar 1, spoke to the core goal of a university and how MSU can thrive in an increasingly complex environment. With the role and value of higher education under attack in the National dialogue, it is important we know our strengths and be able to defend our contributions.
The Research Design Team, Pillar 2, focused their vision of Montclair as a newly minted Research III University, and looked at growing the infrastructure and capacity to continue to grow research at Montclair. This includes diversifying the types of research we do, diversifying the involvement of faculty, staff, and students in research, and developing partnerships and collaborations to produce meaningful research.
The Student focused Design Team, Pillar 3, addressed diversity, access, and success. This reflects the core values of Montclair as an access university, committed to diversity in its many forms, and focused on success. Montclair is a comprehensive university that provides opportunities for many people to do many things. The future requires us to stay ahead of trends to ensure our students have success here and throughout their lifetimes.
The Innovation Design Team, Pillar 4, focused on innovation and culture, and addressing how we move the institution forward in terms of its culture to embrace change and increase our sustainability through change. Change can be viewed on a continuum from being slow, evolutionary, or incremental, to fast, revolutionary, and game changing. As an institution of higher education we need to strike the right balance on this continuum to ensure our success. We need to determine mechanisms to gather and prioritize ideas to support our long-term success.
Our Board of Trustees also participated in the strategic planning process in July at a special meeting to understand where we want to go as an institution, and to provide their knowledge and expertise in their role of stewarding the mission of the university. The BOT was quite engaged and reminded us that whatever we are doing, breaking down the silos to ensure student success should always be at the forefront of our decisions.
In late August, the CUE met again to review the work of Design Teams and look at the intersections and strands that were emerging from the groups, the BOT, and others involved in the process. There the CUE commissioned a fifth pillar, and reaffirmed the commitment to student success through the transformational processes of education, development, and campus resources and support. The idea of a branded student experience cutting across curricular and co-curricular experiences at Montclair was born.
At the present time the strategic plan is still evolving and taking shape and increasing in clarity. Over the next few months, as we move into the Planning and Engagement phases of our strategic planning process, I soon will be charging “Implementation Teams” for each pillar to move the plan into fruition. Interested members of the community are being solicited to participate in this important design process. Please let Petra Knox (Knoxp@montclair.edu) know if you would like to be considered to join a team.
In closing, I wish to thank the members of the CUE, the Strategic Planning Leadership Team, the Design Teams, and the community members who have assisted and supported this important process.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs