Strategic Planning Receives SCUP Award
Strategic Planning Process Wins Plaudits,
Receives SCUP 2014 Award for Institutional Integration and Innovation
The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) presented its 2014 Award for Institutional Integration and Innovation to GCC based on its submission, “Disruptive Transition to an Integrated Organizational Planning and Resource Allocation Model.”
Only one college in the nation receives the annual award, which recognizes and honors achievement by higher-education institutions that have demonstrated innovative thinking, planning and implementation in an integrated fashion, meaning that resource allocation throughout every level of the organization is effectively linked, coordinated and driven by the institution’s vision, mission and academic priorities.
For more than a decade, GCC has been involved in a systematic, comprehensive planning process. Following a very successful Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation visit in April 2012, the college committed to a new planning model.
Over the past 18 months, the Strategic Planning Task Force (SPTFr, pronounced “spitfire”) has worked diligently to develop a future-focused plan that envisions the GCC of 2020 and what will be needed to get there successfully. The result is a revised strategic plan. In this new, innovative and integrated approach, the institution's departments and divisions will align their operational plans to the college plan to ensure vertical integration.
Acknowledgement from SCUP is a big win for GCC, confirming that its new planning approach is moving in the right direction and is indeed serving as a national model.
Along with the kudos and commemorative plaque came an invitation for GCC to present at the 49th annual international SCUP conference in Pittsburgh in July 2014. Dr. Ilder Betancourt Lopez, Psychology Faculty, presented on behalf of the college.
Later in the year, GCC has the privilege of submitting an article to the organization’s online professional journal, Planning for Higher Education.
Broad Cross-section of Stakeholders Included
“Planning in the field of higher education is not an easy task,” said Dr. Irene Kovala, GCC president. “The system is complex, rapidly evolving and has multiple stakeholders with diverse needs.”
To ensure broad input, thirty-some representatives came together from all over GCC to form SPTFr, including all elements of the campus community: MAT and PSA employees; faculty; department chairs; vice presidents; deans and the faculty senate president. They worked diligently and collaboratively to produce the plan.
The planning effort was marked by a meticulous process and a variety of inputs, including:
- Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) Governing Board Outcomes.
- Findings from the 2012 GCC Self-Study, and GCC Stakeholder Needs Analysis reports.
- Feedback and anecdotal evidence from a variety of on-campus constituents.
- Input from GCC’s President’s Circle, a group of community leaders in education and industry in the West Valley.
Leadership Support and a Meticulous Process
Any activity of this magnitude needs leadership commitment, and Dr. Kovala has made it a high priority. Dr. Alka Singh, dean of Strategy, Planning and Accountability, led the charge.
The large SPTFr team split into small sub-groups to explore larger issues, and then regrouped periodically. The full group met every month for an hour and a half. Then came homework; four or five subgroups met in between main monthly meetings to dig into the details.
All told, there were nine full committee meetings and fifteen task-based sub-group meetings over the 2012-2013 academic year.
“Those of us in planning functions do a lot of these things as part of our jobs, but for others, it was new,” said Singh. “Over a period of time, it was a huge shift, and even those team members whose jobs don’t regularly include planning started to speak in strategic-planning terms,” she observed.
“Some of the PSA members on the team got so engaged that by the end of the process, they could have taught a class in strategic planning.”
Ultimately, the new plan was not the brain child of a few key administrators at the college. Rather, it was co-created by a thirty-member taskforce with a total of three hundred years of service at the college and/or the ten-college Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) system.
Making a Contribution to Maricopa Priorities
The plan is designed to integrate throughout GCC, and also, in light of Maricopa Priorities, with district goals.
MCCCD chancellor Dr. Rufus Glasper noted the plan is among the top handful of the many strategic plans he has seen nationally. In May, Dr. Kovala was asked to present to Dr. Glasper’s Executive Council (CEC), which includes District presidents and the chancellor’s cabinet.
The journey will begin in earnest in fall 2014, when teams start to implement the plan and train people, share information and cultivate community adoption. The two committees formed in fall 2013, SPTFr and IRPC, will continue their collaboration to ensure GCC’s strategies have supporting resources (budget, facilities, information technology and human resource) and are being continually evaluated and monitored for quality improvement.
Outcomes will grow over the coming years, but some results are already evident. For instance:
- The IRPC has supplanted the president’s budget advisory committee, focusing not strictly on budget, but on all resources, including technology, people and facilities.
- Budget and resource requests now must tie back to the plan.
- The new plan informed the process of writing the current strategic enrollment management plan and most recent Title V grant.
An update on GCC’s planning efforts will be included in the report to the HLC in 2016 and again in 2022 when the next campus visit is scheduled.
Ultimate Goal: Championing Student Success
The result? “The task force has done an outstanding job of creating a holistic plan to advance student access and success in an increasingly global society,” said Dr. Kovala. “Being mindful of how we use our resources is the central focus of everything we do here at GCC, so we give our students what they need.”