SBU Board of Trustees affirms strategic planning progress

BOLIVAR, Mo. — Southwest Baptist University’s Board of Trustees voted to affirm a status update on the progress of the University’s strategic planning process that was presented to the Board during its April 16 meeting.

“Rather than coming with a plan in hand, I came with an approach,” said SBU President Dr. Eric A. Turner. “Rather than prescribing a course of action, we are developing this together. Last fall, as I shared with you in this room, we embarked on an ambitious timeline for completing a strategic plan for your approval at the October 2019 Board meeting. Today marks the mid-point to apprise you of our progress.”

The Strategic Planning Committee conducted 45 listening sessions — 18 of those being internal (faculty, staff and students) — during which 1,100 comments were collected. Those comments were funneled into 60 topics and then assigned to themes, with 32 themes rising to the top based on frequency. Faculty, staff and students completed a survey that informed the prioritization of the themes and provided data for a SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis.

Five themes had the most agreement, and the SWOT resulted in nine themes rising to the top. Then the Executive Cabinet met for a visioning session.

“It was a good opportunity for Cabinet to cast a common vision together, and we developed language that really put together a statement of what the team has been working through these past few months,” said Dr. Allison Langford, vice president for strategic planning and initiatives, who is leading the strategic planning effort.

The Strategic Planning Committee proposed four actions: Reaffirming the University’s mission, establishing a new vision, reaffirming the University’s core values and establishing new goals. The committee plans to make a formal recommendation to the Board of Trustees in the fall, after completing these next steps:

  1. Establishing measurable objectives for each goal
  2. Determining key results for measuring objectives
  3. Developing strategies for achieving objectives
  4. Developing operational plans

“We want to have specific action items that will make a difference over the next three years, Langford said, “but we also are looking at this plan being longer term than that, aiming to the sesquicentennial in nine years.”

In other action, the Board approved:

  • A compensation study to be conducted by an external vendor. Being commissioned as part of the University’s strategic planning process, the study will help establish a compensation program that is both market-relevant and internally equitable.
  • A preliminary $62 million budget for the 2019-20 school year. The final budget will be approved at the October meeting.
  • Future board meeting dates of Oct. 21-22, 2019; April 6-7, 2020; and Oct. 19-20, 2020.
  • Continuance of post-retirement benefits pursuant to current policies.
  • Revisions to the University Investment Policy as recommended by the Investment Committee, an advisory committee to the Finance Committee of the SBU Board of Trustees.
  • The use of earnings from the Future Fund Quasi-Endowment to be used to purchase faculty computers as part of the overall computer rotation needs for the 2019-20 academic year.

*Published: 4-18-19