Understanding the College of Education strategic plan: How we got here

Kimberly A. Lawless
September 01, 2021

The College of Education recently implemented its new strategic plan for 2021-25. This plan was a collaborative effort within the college, and many individuals did some heavy-lifting for this document – even during the pandemic shutdown. You can read the full plan on the college's website. Information about the committee membership can be found here.

Each of the plan’s four goals includes multiple objectives and action items, so over the next several months this column will focus on individual objectives and their associated action items, and what implementation of them means for us in our everyday work lives.

This week’s column gives context to the document by reviewing the planning process, which can be summarized as four phases of development and review.

Phase One (Dec. 19, 2019, to March 16, 2020)

Faculty and staff were nominated by department heads in late fall 2019 to serve on the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC), and Professors Ed Fuller and Jonna Kulikowich accepted roles of co-chairs of the committee. The primary agenda items were to identify societal concerns and issues that could inform the mission, vision, values and themes of the plan. The committee surveyed stakeholder groups to assist with identification of the societal concerns and issues. An initial set of eight themes was identified, described and presented in program and faculty meetings in the departments.

Phase Two (April 27 to Aug. 19, 2020)

The SPC did not meet during March and early April 2020 given the need to move all in-person meetings and classes to remote scheduling because of the coronavirus pandemic. In late April through August 2020, the SPC resumed a regular schedule of online meetings to focus on the components listed and described in the Penn State template guide from the Office of Planning, Assessment and Institutional Research (OPAIR). Along with the draft of the mission and vision for the College of Education, the committee reduced its original set of eight themes to three and identified a final set of four goals areas to direct writing of objectives, action items and implementation tasks. A final set of goal descriptions, action items and implementation tasks was prepared for review by late August 2020.

Phase Three (Sept. 1 through Dec. 7, 2020)

The primary task completed during Phase Three of the planning process was comprehensive review of the initial draft of the strategic plan by College of Education stakeholders. In addition to departmental meetings and surveys sent to stakeholders, the Faculty Council met on Nov. 19, 2020, for review and feedback on the first draft of the plan. In early December 2020, the executive committee (EC) and SPC reviewed all feedback and made changes accordingly. Specifically, changes included more emphasis on social justice and anti-racism, teaching and learning in disciplinary areas across the lifespan, and global understanding and awareness in education. Definitions of key terms also were added to facilitate understanding of the importance of plan components. After final review and approval of the first draft of the plan by the SPC, the plan draft was submitted to OPAIR on Dec. 15, 2020.

Phase Four (Jan. 11 to March 15, 2021)

The EC and SPC added final components of the plan based on the Penn State template guide. These components included key performance indicators; action item metrics; start dates and end dates; identification of who is responsible for implementation of plan components; and supporting documents to describe the planning process. A town hall was held via Zoom on Jan. 15 to invite final feedback and recommendations about the revised and updated plan. Revisions were made based on feedback provided by OPAIR. The SPC approved the final draft of the plan on March 17 and submitted it to University leadership on March 18.

Coming up

The next Initiatives column will include a brief overview of the college's foundational commitments, the mission, vision and values, and definitions of key terms.

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Last Updated September 08, 2021