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Preliminary Report to the Board of Trustees - May 2013

Summary of Strategic Planning Context at Malone University

Our strategic planning process is an extension of the intense and focused discussions during two years of planning and analysis for our institutional self-study presented in 2012 to the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. From 2010 through 2012, multiple subcommittees and stakeholders from all areas participated in this analysis. The self-study articulates a number of institutional strengths and challenges to be addressed. A Site Team reviewed our documents, visited the campus from September 27-29, 2012, and submitted findings and recommendations to the Commission. The HLC site team reaffirmed the findings of the University. In particular, the site team recommended development and implementation of a strategic plan that aligns budget allocations with established strategic goals. The site team also recommended several specific areas to be considered in this planning process.

On October 18, 2012, we initiated a campus-wide strategic planning event facilitated by Tim Fuller, Vice President and Owner of CREDO, a higher education consulting firm specializing in strategic planning processes and institutional analysis. This campus-wide event focused on SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) as well as an overview of key elements that constitute a thriving private institution. In November 2012, we received a summary of these findings. Results from the CREDO event reaffirmed a number of the priority items identified during our 2010 through 2012 self-study process.

In January 2013, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee began its initial work toward development of the Strategic Plan. In February 2013, The Institutional Actions Committee of the Higher Learning Commission agreed with the report of the HLC site team, reaffirmed the accredited status of the university, and mandated the development and submission of a comprehensive strategic plan that includes a required Progress Report (due November 2013) and a Monitoring Report (due November 2014).

The committee has set up a Strategic Planning Website and a Strategic Planning Blog in order to allow input from the wider campus community. In May 2013, President David King and Provost Donald Tucker will visit with Tim Fuller at the CREDO headquarters in North Carolina to review initial stages of progress and to develop strategies and next steps in the formation of the Strategic Plan.

In addition to the self-study and the CREDO analysis, the university has collected and analyzed information from other external reviews such as the Kaludis Report (personnel and financial benchmarking with select CCCU institutions), Barnes and Roche (review of structure and strengths of advancement functions), Noel-Levitz (financial aid modeling and strategies), Performa (analysis of enrollment management processes), the architectural firm of Derck and Edson (preliminary Campus Enhancement Plan concepts), and financial indicators from the Key Indicators Tool (KIT) and Financial Indicators Tool (FIT) collected by the Council of Independent Colleges. The university is currently in the process of conducting an image analysis with the assistance of Simpson Scarborough, a leading marketing analysis and research firm. Internally, a Retention Task Force and a Diversity and Inclusion Committee are working to provide analysis and recommended strategies for addressing these specific areas.

 Planning Assumptions – Intentionality, Participation, and Urgency

The President has articulated on numerous occasions the priority for a broad-based strategic planning process with a focus on clear and shared objectives and alignment with resources (operational budget and fund raising). The President anticipates that the University will move forward with purpose, thoughtfulness, and diversity of perspectives. The strategic planning process necessitates sufficient data, wisdom, and discernment to anticipate, predict, and ideally control future activities or outcomes. Our efforts to deliver, advance, and steward our mission, our objective to affect the lives of our students each day, and our desire to sufficiently support and cause our faculty and staff to flourish will be enhanced by clear and broadly shared goals, priorities, and alignment. One objective in this planning process is to achieve a meaningful balance between a legitimate sense of urgency and a broad base of participation and shared engagement across the university community. Ultimately, our goal is an ongoing and systematic cycle of planning and assessment.

Charge to the Steering Committee from President David King

The Strategic Planning Committee’s charge from the President is to accomplish in a timely manner a plan that addresses and / or links to

  • Mission affirmation and vision clarification
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis
  • Goals and priorities
  • Operating budget and capital fund-raising priorities
  • Comprehensive campus enhancement plan
  • Capital campaign

The overall framework for the plan will include

  1. Why We Plan
  2. Vision
  3. Mission
  4. Foundational Principles
  5. Educational Goals
  6. Conditions to Which We Must Respond
  7. Planning assumptions
  8. Definitions
  9. Goals and Strategies
  10. Key Performance Indicators

The work of the Steering Committee will focus largely on elements 6, 7, and 9. It is anticipated that the finalization of the planning framework will engage faculty, staff, students, and others in more intense discussions of specific content, prioritization of initiatives, and budget reallocations necessary to implement and execute the Strategic Plan including making the Strategic Plan a foundation for fund raising and capital campaign initiatives.

Framework for Planning and Progress to Date (April 2013)

In the early stages of discussion the Strategic Planning Committee adopted the following general framework for planning:

Step 1:             Identify the Key Success Factors for Malone University

For example, larger enrollments, greater retention and graduation rates, and well-educated and employed graduates are examples of KSFs that could be appropriate for Malone to consider.

The steering committee identified the following four Key Success Factors in answer to the question: “What are the critical, key elements necessary for Malone University to thrive?”

  • A Clear Identity
  • Financial Strength
  • Stable Enrollment
  • Structures for Student Success

Step 2:             An Analysis of Malone’s External Environment

This analysis would characterize the degree of rivalry that confronts Malone through an examination of Malone’s customers, suppliers, and competitors (existing and potential—new entrants and substitutes).

The Steering Committee reviewed and discussed a number of “Trends Most Likely to Affect the University.” These trends articulate economic, legal, political, demographic, social, environmental, cultural, reputational, technological, and delivery issues impacting higher education nationally and the potential implications of these trends for Malone University. A copy of the “Trends” is posted on the Strategic Planning Website. Continued attention will be given to these external factors and their impact as we develop specific institutional goals and priorities.

The Steering Committee met with the President to develop a Vision Statement for the university. A vision statement is intended to be a picture of what the future might look like and should assist in campus decision making and in the articulation of realistic and achievable institutional goals. After consideration of various options, the committee posted on the Strategic Planning Blog site a DRAFT Vision Statement for input and comment from the campus community.

Original wording of DRAFT Vision Statement: Our vision is to be the Christian university of choice in the Mideast region of the U.S. recognized for Christ-centered academic excellence, spiritual formation, student engagement, and leadership in thought and service.

There were forty-seven comments on this draft and twenty additional comments on a follow-up blog entry related to the vision statement. Fifteen persons offered specific alternatives to the wording of the original DRAFT. The Steering Committee isolated individual components of the original statement and reviewed comments from the campus community. The committee then submitted recommendations to the president for modifications to the original DRAFT.

Step 3:             An Internal Analysis

This is the place for the SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis we have can be validated with the available data and any additional data we might collect. For example, the strengths in a SWOT analysis should possess the following attributes if they are to be of strategic advantage to us: linked to a KSF, rare, durable, and inimitable. In addition, we could examine the relationships among the components of the SWOT analysis. For example, the linkages between the strengths and opportunities can be explored.

During summer and fall 2013, the steering committee, with assistance from other campus constituent groups, will examine internal trends and challenges, establish a set of goals and priorities, identify strategies for achieving the goals, and work with budget officers to align university funds with established priorities.

Step 4:             Specify the Strategy

The strategy is one of the following at the highest level: low cost, differentiation, or best cost for a broad or niche market. Malone’s market position is defined by the value, price, and cost of its product(s) and is reflective of its strategy. At its lowest level, the strategy is a plan that applies to each major organizational part of the institution.

Step 5:             Specify Objectives

There are strategic objectives (e.g., increasing market share) and financial objectives (e.g., increasing the endowment and having a balanced budget). The strategic objectives are leading indicators and the financial objectives are lagging indicators, but both types should be quantifiable. The objectives are specified for each level of the organization. (Objectives, ultimately, are detailed manifestations of the KSFs and will measure the success of the strategy.)

Initial Timeline and Goals for 2013-2014

  • Present an initial strategic planning document to the Board of Trustees at their October 2013 meetings.
  • Submit a Progress Report to HLC by November 1, 2013, regarding our initial strategic plan. This report must include a description of the planning process, constituencies that contribute to the plan, a template for planning that includes goals, action strategies, relation to the mission, responsible parties for implementing the plan, a timeframe, budget implications, expected outcomes, and evaluation measures to assure achievement of the plan.
  • Submit a Monitoring Report to HLC by November 1, 2014, regarding the implementation of the plan and description of the ongoing planning process.

Primary Goals (David King, September 17, 2012)

Before the formal establishment of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, the President, upon review of documents listed in the opening section of this report, identified a preliminary set of essential goals that must be considered during this planning process. Other goals and priorities will be reviewed, considered, and added to this list as the strategic planning process unfolds.

  1. Recover the University’s financial stability.
  2. Develop an aspirational template reflecting the University’s objectives for enrollment (undergraduate, graduate, adult / professional), program offerings and program delivery (on ground, online, blended, campus based, satellite, study away) reflecting the distinct and sustained character of the Malone student experience, overall growth, operational efficiency, and financial strengthening and sustainability.
  3. Identification, clarification, and marketing of the “brand” of Malone University to set it apart as a unique and attractive alternative for student enrollment and donor support.
  4. Improve recruitment and retention of diverse students through strategic enrollment management, including greater cooperation from both student development and faculty. This will include developing a data-informed approach to leveraging financial aid and addressing the [currently unsustainable] discount rate.
  5. Cultivate a culture of program refinement, enhancement, and development that is congruent with the University’s mission and with current / emergent market (i.e. local, national, international) needs and opportunities.
  6. Establish and implement a broad based, effective fund-raising and development plan, including greater synergy and mutual accountability with Malone’s advancement team and greater Board encouragement and commitment.
  7. Cultivate a campus community reflecting cooperation and collaboration that contributes to the overall Malone student experience.

 Some Preliminary Questions for the Board of Trustees

To assist in the planning process and to solicit specific input from members of the Board of Trustees, the Steering Committee would like committees of the board to consider the following questions from the fiduciary and stewardship perspective of a board:

  1. What emerging trends and issues require monitoring, input, and/or oversight from the board of trustees?
  2. What are three essential priorities for Malone University to enact in order for the university to sustain its educational purpose and to move forward into the future with vitality?

University Strategic Planning Steering Committee:

Chris Abrams, Vice President for Student Development

Jeff Beine, Assistant Professor of Education

Bob Book, Student Senate President

Joy Brathwaite, Vice President for Finance and Business Affairs

Marj Carlson Hurst, Dean of the School of Business and Leadership

Becky Fort, University Librarian

Steve Jensen, Professor of English

Dennis Kincaid, Professor of Business Administration

David King, President (ex officio)

Paula Kurre, Enrollment and Student Services, Nursing

Debra Lee, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences

Susan McDevitt, Assistant Professor of Nursing

Nate Phinney, Dean of the School of Theology, Arts, and Sciences

Michelle Searer, Vice President for Enrollment Management and University Marketing

Rhoda Sommers, Dean of the School of Education and Human Development

Brenda Stevens, Director of Multicultural Services

Howard Taylor, Vice President for Advancement

Don Tucker, Provost

Steven Weingart, Associate Vice President for Advancement 

Committee Staff

Charles Lartey, Director of Assessment

Karen Warner, Assistant to the Provost, Institutional Research

Teresa Pittinger, Assistant to the Provost