New strategic plan era begins

The strategic plan that sets the university's course over the next six years became official July 18 with approval from the state Board of Regents.

The latest plan differs from its predecessors in a couple of important ways, said Steve Freeman, chair of the strategic planning steering committee and University Professor of agriculture and biosystems engineering.

The plan's key goals

  • Ensure student access to an exceptional education
  • Enhance ISU's research profile by conducting high-impact research
  • Improve the quality of life for Iowans
  • Provide a safe, welcoming environment for the ISU community and visitors

Living document

"It's much more measurable and it's more of a living document," Freeman said. "We don't want the plan to be stagnant. If something comes up and there's a need to make a change, there will be a process to do that."

"This is an outstanding plan," President Steven Leath said, "with thoughtful goals and metrics for how we can advance all areas of Iowa State with a commitment to excellence. I appreciate the dedicated efforts of everyone who participated in the development of the strategic plan. I would like to especially thank University Professor Steve Freeman for his leadership as chair of the strategic planning steering committee."

Assigning responsibility

One important task remains for the steering committee -- assigning responsibility for implementing the plan.

"One or more individuals, units or committees will be accountable for every goal, subgoal and action," Freeman said. "Their task will be to ensure that things happen. In some cases, this responsibility will start by defining the details behind specific metrics in the plan and collecting baseline data where it does not currently exist. In other cases, the responsibility will start with a plan and timeline for creating something new."

Freeman said a draft of the implementation plan will be submitted to Leath by the end of the month.

The strategic plan will carry Iowa State through June 30, 2022. Freeman anticipates annual reports to the regents beginning in October 2017. Annual reviews of the plan likely will occur in late spring or early summer. If necessary, parts of the plan may be tweaked at those times.

A role for everyone

While every unit on campus has a role to play in one or more of the four overarching goals, the details contained in the subgoals, metrics and actions are more specific and thus may directly apply to fewer units, Freeman said. That's by design.

"The strategic plan is not an action plan that reflects all the important work that happens on this campus on a day-to-day basis. The plan helps us prioritize and, in places where we need to change, it helps guide that change."