In keeping with the academic mission and strategic objectives of Western Michigan University, Student Affairs cultivates a campus community that is supportive, caring and friendly for students, faculty, staff and the general public. We develop and manage human, financial, physical and technological resources effectively and efficiently and evaluate these programs, services, and systems of support in order to engage in continuous improvement and positive change. We are learner-centered, using our resources wisely to provide programs and services to create and support exceptional learning in safe, healthy and inclusive environments. We forge partnerships with academic affairs and other campus constituents in order to serve students in a holistic manner. In order to achieve our goals and objectives, we have created an organizational structure that allows for agile, consistent, and responsible operational support and decision-making.
Strategic planning in Student Affairs is a continuing practice, with the recent 2010-2013 Draft Strategic Plan representing the culmination of planning processes engaged in over a period of ten years. After developing a set of core guiding principles, the Student Affairs team has engaged in meetings and retreats to clarify and develop the division’s mission, vision and core values. In 2011, the leadership team developed and clarified Strategic Goals and Objectives to guide the division’s work and the Vice President for Student Affairs formed the Student Affairs Steering Committee and six Strategy Teams, with the charge to develop plans that will transform the strategic objectives into action plans. A formal program review cycle has also been implemented to further enhance the division’s ongoing assessment and strategic planning efforts.
Assessment is an important and integral component of the strategic planning process. Departments in Student Affairs use assessment as a means of continuous improvement of programs, services and policies. Annually, each department uses various assessment methods to ascertain learning outcomes for students as well as quality of service. Department heads provide this information to the Vice President of Student Affairs along with reports detailing the assessment results and outlining changes implemented. Assessment results are discussed at staff meetings and are used to inform strategic planning and goal-setting in Student Affairs.
The Student Affairs Assessment Committee builds awareness of and expertise in division-wide and departmental assessment efforts and evaluates current assessment efforts in order to make recommendations for coordination, improvement, enhancement and change. The committee also assists with the coordination of assessment efforts between and among departments, the sharing and marketing of outcomes of data collection and assessment efforts with others in the division and across campus, and acquires expertise in CampusLabs in order to keep current assessment efforts up to date and accessible to staff in Student Affairs.
Strategic Goals in Student Affairs stem from the mission of the University, are carried out in the context of our vision, mission and core values, and provide direction for the division for the long term. Student Affairs Objectives are focused statements concerning actions that contribute to the overall accomplishment of our goals. Our strategic goals and objectives reflect a broad array of student learning and development outcomes, as well as a spectrum of operational excellence initiatives in keeping with the standards of excellence in our field. Each objective has specific strategies (programs, services and policies) intended to achieve the goals and objectives. All strategies are assessed and results are used for change and improvement.
Turning strategic goals and objectives into action
The Vice President for Student Affairs sets the vision and priorities for strategic planning and assessment efforts across the division of Student Affairs. She chairs a Leadership Team, comprised of department directors, which meets bi-monthly to share information and review progress toward the goals and objectives. In addition, meeting every other week, she chairs a Steering Committee to ensure that the Strategic Plan moves forward and is coordinated across the division. The Steering Committee is directly responsible for strategic goal #6: Create a culture of continuous improvement and, as such, monitors strategic planning and assessment efforts.
The VPSA has designated leaders for 9 Strategy Teams, responsible for outlining the action plan to turn each strategic objective into reality. Most of the action plans are inter-departmental and membership of Strategy Teams includes constituents from across the division of student affairs as well as those from other campus areas. Each action plan includes the criteria to measure success, an assessment plan and specific assessment measures to evaluate effectiveness.