Strategic Planning Leadership Team Update
By Stacey Woelfel
May 5, 2016
You would think that 30 years on the faculty of the world’s first and best school of journalism would do away with any butterflies in the stomach – at least in matters regarding the school. Yet I have to admit I still had a few when Dean Dave rang my cell phone and asked me to be part of the Strategic Planning Leadership Team charged with shaping a path into the future for an institution that boasts a very impressive past. Generations of faculty, staff and students have worked together to put the school at the pinnacle of journalism education. Now it will be up to me and a handful of my peers to design and oversee a process to make this place even better and worthy of keeping that “first and best” claim intact.
Luckily, I don’t have to face this daunting task alone. Dave has fashioned an impressive team representing alumni, staff, students, faculty, and industry professionals.
When this group met for the first time in Columbia on April 13, facilitator Sandra Herron of MiddlEdge Inc. in Indianapolis joined us to guide our progress. Sitting and talking for two hours, we settled on a set of working agreements for our team. First among those was a commitment to being open and transparent throughout the process. That gave birth to this blog. Throughout the coming months, the team will meet regularly and report on the progress of those meetings in this blog. Members will take turns writing the blog posts, sharing our views on how the team is doing and what’s still to come.
We also agreed to a purpose statement that will guide our work. It states:
The Strategic Planning Leadership Team will help facilitate an effective strategic planning process that will engage J-School stakeholders in conversations about the J-School’s mission, vision and strategic priorities. We aim to develop a strategic plan that has broad ownership, has carefully considered the J-School’s current realities and operating context, articulates a vision that is energizing for all stakeholders and outlines strategic priorities and key initiatives and defines measurable outcomes.
I like the elements in the statement. They sum up much of what we talked about in that first meeting. And they support the other ideas we discussed that day. Among those ideas is a strong sense of the stakeholders in this process. We see them as being our faculty, staff, students, alumni, minority communities, donors, international contacts, industry professionals and employers, and other strategic influencers like parents and high school guidance counselors, as well as the higher administration at the University of Missouri, audiences for our school media, clients for our school agencies, and other schools and institutions with interdisciplinary connections.
This is a personal mission for each of us. We are doing this with high hopes for what we will accomplish and the good it will do for the J-School. We even built an optimistic list of what we hope will come of our efforts, including capitalizing – but not resting on – our reputation and history, being able to put our considerable resources into leading the journalism industry, engaging and energizing all the stakeholders I listed above, working above any territoriality to look at the big picture, building a 21st-century way of teaching journalism, building a nimble and adaptable curriculum, and – most of all – staying student-focused and inclusive of all throughout the process.
So those are our hopes and ambitions. The best part of being on this team is that we don’t have to accomplish all that alone. We’ll spend the rest of the spring and early summer seeking out and listening to input from our stakeholders at meetings on campus and across the state. We’re starting with meetings with our primary stakeholders here on campus. Beyond that, we’ll travel to St. Louis and Kansas City to set up listening sessions there, and a Web-based alumni survey will be launched in June. And even if you’re not involved in the above activities, you’re always welcome to add your own two cents to this process. Reach out to the leadership team members and tell them you have some ideas. If you don’t know any of them, reach out to me. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org and stand ready to listen.
Thirty years is a long time in one place, I’ll admit. But that’s just a small part of the 108 years this school has educated the country’s top journalists. That’s an impressive history, for sure. Now we’re setting out to build an impressive future to match. And we’ll keep you posted right here on how that’s going.
Updated: September 25, 2020