The plan was drafted based on a summary of themes provided by Pappas Consulting Group. Their summary was created from interviews with the Deans, President Chicoine's Executive Team, and members of the various governance structures to glean their perspectives of the current state of the University and the issues that needed to be addressed in the strategic plan.
Summary of Themes
Sense of Institutional Pride
There is a real sense of pride of what South Dakota State University has accomplished over the past five years or so . Those with whom I interviewed believe strongly that the institution’s leadership has given the institution’s reputation a tremendous boost. Incumbents point to the significant organizational changes that have occurred as well as the fast pace of change “for the better.”
Fast Pace of Change
To a person, the fast pace of institutional change coupled with the multiplicity of changes underway was reported to be “dizzying” or “breathtaking.” These statements were not meant as criticism but rather a reality statement. Indeed, many voiced their opinion that the changes were necessary and for the betterment of the institution as a whole.
Spirit of Willingness
The preponderance of interviewees expressed their commitment to do whatever necessary to help the University’s leadership reach its long term aspirations but with the understanding that aspiration needed to be “balanced with reality and resources.” Once again, it appears that incumbents are prepared to continue on the path of change in a thoughtful, focused manner.
Need to Recognize the Contributions of the Past
Although there is extraordinary support for what the institution’s leadership has accomplished, there is the belief that the contributions of the past should be recognized, if not celebrated, while strategic and necessary changes are underway. For some who have been at the institution for decades, there is the sense that their contributions and those of their colleagues are not as appreciated as they could be.
Loss of Value
For many of those who were interviewed, there was profound regret that the American public no longer perceives the value of higher education . These incumbents are committed to having this strategic plan address boldly and passionately the value and value - added of a University degree; especially one from SDSU.
Dialogue and Listening Sessions Praised
For many, the Dialogue and Listening Sessions created to jump start the strategic planning process across the University were described as educational . Some reported that it was beneficial to sit around a table and engage in conversation with colleagues from across the institution to get a better sense of what was going o n at the institution and its three centers.
Need to Engage Key External Constituents in the Strategic Planning Process
While recognizing that the Community sessions that were conducted in May to engage residents in Brookings and other key locations across the state provided valuable feedback, there was sensitivity that “key” legislators, “power brokers,” and members of the Board of Regents were not in attendance. The suggestion was made in several sessions, most especially in the Deans’ session, that intentionally reaching out to influential Legislators, members of the business community/economic development council, and members of the Board of Regent s might be helpful as the final draft of the strategic plan was ready to be vetted.
For the faculty, the transformation of the historic Academic Senate to a Faculty Senate was viewed very positively. They were pleased with the transparency with which they were working with the Provost and her office in particular. Professional Staff and Career Service staff believed that their voice could now be better heard through the Career Services Advisory Council and the Professional Staff Advisory Council rather than through the former Academic Senate.
Faculty and Staff Development
A dearth of faculty and staff development opportunities were cited. For faculty as well as staff who participated in interviews , t he sentiment was that management training for Deans, Directors and Vice Presidents would go a long way to improve communication, efficiency and effectiveness. Differences among the schools and colleges in terms of scope and size were reported to lead to different expectations of Deans, Directors and Chairs in each, sometimes making it challenging to get curricular or administrative work done across the University efficiently or effectively.
Professional as well as Career staff voiced their concern that the current performance evaluation system was not consistently applied and that supervisors were not being held uniformly accountable for undertaking evaluations on a timely basis. Some expressed the feeling that this practice was leading to low staff morale in some departments .