By Rajiv Shenoy and Teresa de Onis
In the wake of the current pandemic and protests over systemic racism, higher education is experiencing an existential threat. Both events cast a bright light on the difficulties of making quality education accessible to the underserved, from the black community to first-generation immigrants, to ESL students, and those in rural or poverty-stricken parts of the country. The intense disruption to academics-as-usual, and the profound need for higher education to be a beacon of hope and opportunity, have revealed fascinating differences in strategic planning among universities.
In May 2020, Apogee analyzed 491 publicly available strategic plans for a variety of higher education institutions, with starts and projected ends recorded, to understand the state of strategic planning in the pre-COVID-19 world. Our goal is to help our customers make data-driven planning decisions, help them tie their initiatives to technology strategies, and help ensure higher education emerges from the crises of 2020 stronger than before.
The 491 strategic plans were coded based on elements in different planning areas, without double-counting action items in the same area. Strategic plans were downloaded or copied where possible and are available upon request. An interactive microsite with data visualizations and downloadable reports will be available in Fall 2020.
In addition, Apogee will add more data to the study in Summer 2021 by taking a “post-COVID-19” look at the same schools studied with an additional 500 schools included in the research.
Though larger institutions have the innate advantages of more personnel and funding, we believe all institutions – especially smaller ones – need to double-down on strategic planning to not only push through the current crisis, but to come out stronger on the other side. Goal setting and strategic planning must include aggressive technology planning. This is necessary to support the nation’s demand for educational ROI that will drive equality and prosperity now and in the future.
Our analysis of the data suggests a disconnect between emphasis on pedagogy initiatives and technology initiatives in colleges and universities with under 5000 students enrolled.
Now more than ever, higher ed must play a role in combatting racial and economic inequality by providing access to affordable, quality education. Intentional strategic planning, with technology planning that keeps pace with and stays ahead of the altered environment, is fundamental to realizing this goal.