The planning process at Webster University is driven by the 2003-2008 Strategic Plan.
The university president and his cabinet, the Administrative Council, articulate this document into specific, achievable goals and initiatives. These goals and initiatives comprise the broad framework from which the university budget committee then builds an annual operating budget. The planning process culminates in the submission of an operating and capital budget request to the university’s Board of Trustees.
Each week, the Administrative Council, the president, vice presidents, and the president of the faculty senate, meet for two hours to develop intermediate and longer term goals and plans in support of university’s mission statement and strategic plan, discuss immediate institutional challenges, develop strategies for addressing these challenges, and keep each other informed of activities within each executive’s scope of responsibility. The discussions in these weekly meetings follow the annual calendar outlined below.
- April – July: Implementing priorities established and funded in the newly approved operating and capital budgets.
- August: The president holds an annual retreat for deans and administrators. At this retreat these leaders review prior accomplishments, review and provide updates on the status of ongoing projects and set future priorities, including listing funding priorities for the next planning cycle and establishing larger, multi-period objectives for consideration in the planning process, such as new buildings and entry into new markets.
- September - October: With the students returning, the Administrative Council focuses largely on current-year matters, including recommendations on short-term corrective actions when circumstances warrant.
- November - December: Individual units begin compiling data on the feasibility of goals for the following year, assessing required resources and estimating costs associated with these resources. Administrative Council identifies the major new projects and initiatives for consideration and inclusion in the upcoming annual budget process.
- January: The Office of Resource Allocation and Budget constructs a budget model using the divisional planning and directions from the Administrative Council. The office compiles enrollment projections to develop revenue estimates, compile funding requirements for budget requests submitted by university departments, and meet with various constituencies within Webster, to identify requests for the following year.
- February – March: The Budget Committee, consisting of the vice presidents and key members of their staffs, hold weekly meetings. During this process the committee determines the available funding for new initiatives and determines which projects to fund based on available resources and a determination on which options best advance the vision expressed in the strategic plan. Ultimately the work of the budget committee culminates in an operating and capital budget request which the university submits to the Board of Trustees for review and approval.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2d.1 Budgeting]
The results of our planning and implementation efforts can be seen on the Saint Louis campus and the within the world-wide extended campus network. The institution has been infused with new programs, buildings and technology. These investments are derived from the 2003-2008 Strategic Plan goals of enhancing institutional quality and strengthening operational excellence.
The Strategic Plan established Promoting Greater Integration as a priority.
Subsequently, we have developed an online training module for advisors at the extended locations and undertaken a worldwide curriculum review in the School of Business and Technology. The Plan advanced the concept of global citizenship as a priority, and we have implemented the global version of the graduate International Relations degree, established the Energizer Global Staff Exchange and Students Fly Free programs. New online programs and new residential facilities in St. Louis and Geneva are examples of seeking new opportunities.
The Strategic Plan called for leveraging emerging technologies. Webster consolidated information technology under a new Vice President, completely redeveloped the University Web site, and invested in software for Web-based recruiting and enrollment. To meet the strategic priority of facilitating fiscal health, the University has decreased its reliance on tuition revenue, grown the endowment to more than $68 million, established a new position control system to aid in managing personnel dollars, and created a wholly owned subsidiary better to operate as an educational institution in China.
[EXHIBIT: HL2a.3 Advisor Online Training, HLC3a ACBSP, HLC1d Mobility]
Examples of undertakings stemming from the strategic imperative to cultivate corporate and community partnerships include the establishment of the Old Post Office campus and Governor Holden’s Speaker Series. The Plan also identified the strategic importance of streamlining core processes, and Webster has taken steps such as implementing a university purchasing card. The emphasis on allocation of necessary resources in the Strategic Plan is exemplified in the construction of the Emerson Library, and the Community Music School relocation, in which the University sold a building off campus, using the proceeds to build a new, on-campus facility that benefits both the Community Music School and the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts.
[EXHIBIT: HLC2b.3 New Campuses, HLC2d.2 Holden Public Policy Forum, HLC2b.1 Financials, HLC0.8 Campus Master Plan]
New Strategic Plan and Planning Process Improvements:
The current strategic plan ends in 2008. Following the discussions and work of the self-study institutional attention transitioned to the creation of a new strategic plan.
The Vice Presidents for Finance and Academic Affairs advanced a new planning model to connect resource allocation to planning priorities and to facilitate evaluating outcomes. This improved planning process is be implemented, and a new strategic plan is being assembled.
The new planning process is outlined in the graph below. The four basic aspects of planning which include 1) Goals, 2) Objectives 3) Strategies and 4) Measures are imbedded into the lower and more intensive aspect of the hierarchy.
Mission tops the planning pyramid as a declaration of the general principles or core values from which the university shall function as an organization. Shared organizational values are the foundation of the strategic planning process. Values are those beliefs about an organization that arise from its core identity and the mission is the outward manifestation of those values.
Vision or visioning is the next phase of the planning process, typically done over a five-to-ten-year horizon, which provides something imaginary to strive for a part of the university’s future. Visioning is an exercise in which it distinguishes itself from strategic planning as being “strategic thinking”. Strategic thinking or visioning is usually tied very closely to competitive strategies. It creates possibilities linked to envisioned outcomes which offer distinctiveness of product or services in the marketplace.
Strategic planning is a disciplined process by which an organization seeks to craft a desired future for itself (Vision Statement) through a set of informed decisions and actions. The process requires that each functional area of the university understand the vision and commence to examine the external environment, internal capabilities, strengths/weaknesses and opportunities that are strategic in nature. It is within that context that the university’s strategic plan focuses on issues identification and resolution and considers a range of possible futures through a set of informed decisions. Within the Strategic Plan, primary goals will be developed for the university.
From each one of the established goals, the strategic plan will also derive a series of objectives. These objectives will relate directly to an actual existence or reality that is material and measurable.
Institutional Planning (IP) is the next subset to our strategic plan. An Institutional Plan assembles this critical information and creates milestones over a specified horizon (typically a one-to-three year period) of time and within the context of the university’s strategic priorities and financial capabilities. It is the basis whereby the Goals and Objectives identified in the strategic plan are developed into implementation “strategies” and “measures of contribution” as recognized by each planning unit within the institution.
Resource Planning and Budgeting Process stems from the Institutional Plan. The University’s resource planning will be responsible for quantifying each responsibility center, as well as those objectives and outcomes requiring resources within a five-year time horizon incorporating academic directions, capital goals, fundraising priorities and related resources for achieving them. To be successful, the resource plan will also draw upon many independent consultations with campus constituencies. The Plan will be a basic tool for local units to use in developing and assessing their own strategic goals. It is also the beginning point for the next planning cycle and the conclusion of the cycle that precedes it.
Assessment and Audit Review is the base of the planning process. It is within this step that we determine the effectiveness of our plans by comparing the plan to the actual events. Utilizing the result of these assessments, we will make corrections and adjustments to the ongoing planning process.
A Strategic Planning Committee was formed and began its work Summer 2007. As part of this plan, the Committee was charged with developing a contemporary (shorter) mission statement, a vision statement, and a set of institutional care values.
This draft work was completed in Fall 2007, and has been reviewed by numerous University stakeholders (Trustees, Administrators, Faculty, Extended Campus Directors, and others). The Committee has proposed six goals for the new plan, each with subsets of objectives, strategies and metrics:
- Set the Standard for Global Education
- Advance Excellence in Teaching and Learning
- Expand our Mission of Fulfilling Unmet Needs
- Place Students First
- Enhance our Reputation
- Utilize Resources to Achieve Strategic Goals
The draft plan has received initial endorsement from the Trustees, Administration, and the University Community. Work continues on the specific strategies to be included in the final plan. Through the entire process, drafts, meeting minutes, suggestions, and comments have been posted on the institution’s Web site to help ensure broad participation and transparency.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.23 Draft Strategic Plan, http://www.webster.edu/strategicplan/home.shtml]
In conclusion, the self-study process leads us to conclude that Webster University is preparing for the future. The University has process for planning, resource allocation, and evaluation, is committed to using evidence to improve constantly, and has the means and outlook to respond to future challenges and opportunities.