Consultants' Notes, February 2018

Consultants' Notes and Reflections
Feb. 20-22 Campus Visit

Tuesday and half of Wednesday we assisted the co-chairs of the five goal teams in preparing to make their interim report presentations to the Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC).  Using us as their mock audience, each pair of co-chairs rehearsed their presentation aided by PowerPoint, reading from scripts, or speaking from notes or extemporaneously.  For the most part, our suggestions focused on streamlining the presentations, identifying and highlighting the main points, and describing their proposed initiatives effectively. 

At the afternoon meeting of the SPSC on Wednesday, the Goal Team co-chairs each had 30 minutes within which to make their interim report presentation and respond to questions and comments from the members of the SPSC.  These presentations culminated weeks of goal team meetings, and hundreds of hours of work by the five teams. In all, more than 75 people, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustee members, had participated on a goal team and had considered scores of ideas.  The goal teams and their co-chairs distilled, categorized, prioritized, and assimilated the ideas that had come from earlier community brainstorming sessions, from the goal team members themselves, and from email feedback to the SPSC from the larger Puget Sound community. In the end, each goal team produced between two and four candidate initiatives to share with the SPSC.  In many instances, specific projects and activities, both existing and new, were seen being served and advanced over the next ten years under the umbrellas of these initiatives. In a couple of cases initiatives proposed broad and effective actions to address issues perceived as requiring systemic realignment.

The SPSC meeting was energizing. The presentations were effective. At the end of a long afternoon, the mood in the room was positive, upbeat, and hopeful.  Even though the work of the goal teams will not be completed until the March 26 meeting, the SPSC agreed that the next step was to seek, as quickly as possible, formative feedback from the campus community on the draft initiatives.  Plans were made to prepare materials describing each goal team’s work and each of their proposed initiatives to be shared with the campus community via password accessible online interface.

News of this was reported at the Community Conversation on Thursday morning.  That well-attended session featured thoughtful questions about the strategic planning process, about how the goal teams functioned, and about the strategic planning events and activities leading up to the Board of Trustee meetings on May 9 and at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year, when the plan will be formally presented to the Board for review and approval in October. SPSC members, including co-chairs who were in the room, spoke from their own experience of the process to date in response to those questions from the community.