History of USF Strategic Plan
Phase One – Origins (2000)
Assessment in the Division of Student Affairs at the University of South Florida began in earnest in 2000, as the institution initiated its preparation for the institutional Self Study as part of the accreditation process of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The effort was led by staff from the Counseling Center, but all of the sub-divisions of the Division were fully represented, as were student affairs departments from the campuses in St. Petersburg, Lakeland, and Sarasota-Manatee. The Committee that was assembled began meeting in 2000.
Planning for the future was not entirely a new concept for the Division's professional staff. The system of annual reporting usually expected staff to generate goals for subsequent years, but the Committee intended for the approach to planning and assessment to be able to stand by itself, for its own purposes. The assessment aspect of program was, for the most part, a new initiative.
Phase One – Design (2001- 2002)
Using the template that was employed successfully at institutions ahead of USF in the accreditation cycle, including Florida State University and Texas A&M University, the Committee planned and organized a system for the documentation of department-level planning and assessment activity during the 2001-2002 academic year. The template called for each department to establish a set of at least two or three specific measurable goals that, if accomplished, generated new levels of activity, service, or program. At the same time, the department was expected to describe specific plans for measuring the attainment of the goal, sometimes producing two or three measurement plans. The articulation of goals and measurement plans was to be completed at the beginning of the academic year.
At the end of the academic year, the department was expected to describe the results of the measurement plan and the extent to which the goal was attained. With that report, the department was to explain how the results informed practice and helped the department improve its effectiveness. The four parts of the process were to form a cycle: the goal setting, the measurement plan, the reporting of results, and the use of results to improve practice. The cycle intended to generate movement towards continuous improvement and, to an extent, inform subsequent planning and assessment. The results of assessment, for example, would often support the establishment of specific goals for the subsequent cycle.
Phase One – Implementation (2002 – 2005)
Beginning in 2002-2003 the departments of the Division employed the plan proposed by the Committee and began the cycle of planning and assessment. The most challenging aspect for most department heads was the goal setting aspect. The coordinating staff member, the dean of students, engaged in an iterative process with department heads to support their establishment of appropriate goals, specific and measurable. Goals were also intended to advance the effectiveness of the department rather than maintaining the status quo.
Departmental planning and assessment documents were collected annually, from 2002 to 2006. The departmental documents were then compiled into a divisional one that included documents from all units. These documents are available from the USF Office of Student Affairs upon request.
Phase Two – Origins (2006 - 2007)
In 2006, the University Of South Florida Board Of Trustees charged the University's leadership to build upon the existing strategic plan toward developing institutional priorities and performance expectations consistent with the national higher education agenda and the State University System of Florida Strategic Plan. Board approval of the University Strategic Plan 2007-2012 moved forward the development of a negotiated system for accountability and support of institutional values (University Compact Planning Process). This process of collaborative engagement would be utilized by all campus and college academic and service units. Concurrent with the development of this directive was the national movement in higher education toward the integrated and measurable use of institutional resources in the education and preparation of students as life-long learners (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators: Learning Reconsidered). Tenured less than one year, the Division's present administration emerged from this institutional leadership planning process incorporating the paradigm shift into the Division's Strategic Plan and the restructuring of service, activities and program functions.
The process of accommodating this shift in focus included Division-wide retreats, which intentionally broadcasted the underpinnings of this paradigm of learning and its developing initiatives; formal departmental consults and site-reviews; and the formation of a cross-collaborative Strategic Planning Committee, developed in 2007. A primary purpose of this Committee was to unfold a Division plan, parallel to the over-arching University plan, which also integrated the concept of life-long learning into the vision and mission and specified strategic goals with measurable objectives for activities, service, facilities and program.
Phase Two – Design (2008)
In 2008, the Committee proposed to the Division Leadership an evolved Learner-Centered Strategic Goal and an articulation of seven broadly stated goals with corresponding strategies. These eight goals were designed to establish key environmental and infrastructure factors purposeful to the achievement of departmental and divisional objectives: Organizational Integrity, University Community, Assessment, Technology, Fiscal Responsibility, Service Quality and Global Perspectives. Collectively, these goals were proposed as the Division's framework for articulating and demonstrating capacity in support of institutional goals and strategies (http://www.ods.usf.edu/plans/strategic/).
Closely aligned with the Division's mission, the lengthy and detailed process of developing the Learner-Centered Goal is evidence of complexity and worthy of articulation. Various models and frameworks were reviewed and studied in the formation of this goal, the seven corresponding domains and specified student learning outcomes (e.g. Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS); Frameworks for Assessing Learning and Development Outcomes FALDOs; Learning Reconsidered; Bloom's Revised Taxonomy). Working essentially from these models, the planning of the Committee evolved from the premise that learning is life-long and developmental in process. The Committee proposed a model depicting the fundamental elements of this cyclical process and further reflected on learner characteristics specific to a community of higher education. The established domains convey structural (academic) and process learning integrated in a manner that empowers the learner motivated toward mature development. The corresponding learning outcomes identify the objectives or actual capabilities, knowledge or qualities that a learner is presumed to develop having engaged in any activity, service or program and the respective measurable results. The specific observable behaviors or educational objectives are organized in a hierarchy of increasing complexity, accounting for the developmental stages of life-long learning (http://www.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm). This further enables the design of objectives and outcomes that accommodate and differentiate specific learner needs.
The Division Leadership proposed changes to this draft and introduced this first goal division-wide for concept assimilation and subsequent use in the development of departmental and program planning agreements with specific objectives and measurable outcomes. This iterative process at a departmental level prompted further review of the Division Plan and provided recommendations toward a more seamless and transparent framework for the effective practice of goal setting, planning, measurement and improvement.
Phase Two – Implementation
The Committee's term ended Fall, 2008 with the consolidation and advancement of four Division goals and strategies: Learner-Centered, Organizational Integrity, University Community and Globalization. These goals and strategies were specifically refined to more closely align with the University Strategic Plan, further ensuring a Division Compact Plan that advances institutional values and provides evidence of effectiveness through objective reporting and measurable results.
Phase Three – the Planning and Assessment Team
In 2009, the Division formed a Planning and Assessment Team (PAT) comprised of members from the original Strategic Planning Committee and expanded to include broader Division representation ensuring cross-functional collaboration. The purpose of this Committee is to provide Division Leadership with proposed and modified frameworks to serve as guides in the shaping of planning and assessment priorities essential to the Division of Student Affairs mission and to formulate future commitments consistent with the University plan.
The charge from the Vice President for Student Affairs to the Planning and Assessment Team may be found at http://www.sa.usf.edu/committees/SAPAC/purpose.asp