Looking toward the future: JBU’s five-year plan

Strategic planning has begun for John Brown University’s 2015-2020 school years.

Strategic planning is a strategy to pin down long-term goals of the University and to judge progress on previously set goals. This is the second official strategic plan while Chip Pollard has been president of the University.

Strategic plans are broad and flexible, allowing for the unexpected and only projecting possibilities, not necessarily confirming them. “It’s a living document,” said Pollard. “It’s not a manual.”

For example, the previous plan suggested that a nursing program was an area to be explored, but did not necessarily confirm that one would be approved by 2015.

“Nursing’s the big thing. I hate to use such a cliché term, but it’s a game-changer,” said Ed Ericson, vice president for academic affairs.

Ericson confirmed that the new nursing program is one of the biggest considerations in the strategic plan.

Other topics being considered are learning outcomes and assessments such as an expansion to the athletics program, how to recruit and retain students for less popular majors and as always, keeping prices down and fundraising up.

“We’re likely going to consider the next set of fundraising goals first, how to raise money for this or that,” said Ericson.

Also under consideration is the changing face of higher education, as described in the book “College Unbound,” by Jeffrey J. Salingo. A few members of the administration are studying the book, and considering the questions it asks: What is the value of a college degree? What are the ethical implications of for-profit education? What role does technology play?

“Everyone seems to recognize that there are challenges in changing higher education,” Ericson said.

He added that since there are so many constituents with stakes in the plan, a simple answer will be impossible to find.

However, things are not hopeless. “One thing students should realize is what a healthy institution [the University] is,” said Ericson.

The planning process is still in its earliest stages. Administrators met with a panel of students on Tuesday, and there are still more meetings to be held with the Alumni Association and Parent Association, on top of meetings already held with staff and faculty. Once as much information as possible is collected, the information will be passed to the various groups for comments and suggestions.

The first draft of the plan will likely be finished in August 2014.