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Answers to common questions

What is strategic planning?

Simply put, strategic planning is the process by which an organization determines where it is going in the future and how it will get there.

In WSU’s case, strategic planning will help us define our purpose, our values, our mission, and our aspirations for the next five years, 2020 to 2025. The plan also will provide guidance on how we can achieve the desired results.

How will we know if the strategic plan is successful?

We will develop a strategic plan that is evidence-based, targeted, specific, and concise. We will create a plan whose results are measurable, and we will implement, monitor, and review the plan regularly to determine our success. We will have opportunities to identify where changes or updates to the plan are needed.

Why is creation of the new strategic plan particularly significant?

Due to the growth and increasingly complex needs of the WSU system, the University is at a pivotal point in history when it comes to planning compared to previous institutional efforts.

With 6 campuses, multiple degree programs in 2 other locations (Bremerton and Yakima), and 4 Research and Extension Centers, there are significant numbers of WSU students in 11 different geographic locations across Washington. In addition, there are WSU Extension offices in every county in the state and 25 Small Business Development Centers on both sides of the Cascades.

Given this reality, it is critical that we develop a comprehensive 5-year strategic plan that addresses the future of the entire WSU system of campuses and locations.

The new strategic plan will also integrate the priorities of several other important planning efforts undertaken by various segments of the University community in recent years: the Drive to 25, the Modernization InitiativeCampus Culture and Climate, the INTO InitiativeInnovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Grand Challenges.

Who is the consultant for the strategic planning process, and what is her role?

Jean Frankel, the founder, president, and CEO of Ideas for Action, LLC, a management consulting practice that has served higher education and non-profits since 1995, is providing guidance for WSU’s planning process.

Jean is an internationally known and respected management consultant, educator, facilitator and executive coach. She is a trusted thought partner to senior academic and administrative leaders at colleges and universities, as well as CEOs and executive directors of professional and philanthropic nonprofit organizations. She has designed and facilitated strategic planning, governance redesign, organizational assessment, and leadership development for a wide variety of organizations, including the University of Michigan, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and WSU.

Jean’s role in WSU’s planning process is to act as an objective third party, focused on the need to create an ambitious yet practical plan that advances the mission and values of the University while representing the needs and concerns of the WSU community.

What are WSU’s current strategic goals?

There are 12 goals grouped by 4 themes identified in the 2014-2019 strategic plan:

Theme: Exceptional research, innovation, and creativity

  • Goal 1: Increase productivity in research, innovation, and creativity to address the grand challenges and opportunities of the future.
  • Goal 2: Further develop WSU’s unique strengths and opportunities for research, innovation, and creativity based on its locations and land-grant mandate to be responsive to the needs of Washington state.
  • Goal 3: Advance WSU’s reach both nationally and internationally in existing and emerging areas of achievement.

Theme: Transformative student experience

  • Goal 1: Provide an excellent teaching and learning opportunity to a larger and more diverse student population.
  • Goal 2: Provide a university experience centered on student engagement, development, and success, which prepares graduates to lead and excel in a diverse United States and global society.
  • Goal 3: Improve curricular and student support infrastructure to enhance access, educational quality, and student success in a growing institution.

Theme: Outreach & engagement

  • Goal 1: Increase access to and breadth of WSU’s research, scholarship, creative, academic, and extension programs throughout Washington and the world.
  • Goal 2: Expand and enhance WSU’s engagement with institutions, communities, governments, and the private sector.
  • Goal 3: Increase WSU faculty, staff, and students’ contributions to economic vitality, educational outcomes, and quality of life at the local, state, and international levels.

Theme: Institutional Effectiveness
(Diversity, integrity, and openness)

  • Goal 1: Create and sustain a university community that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable.
  • Goal 2: Cultivate a system-wide culture of organizational integrity, effectiveness, and openness that facilitates pursuit of the institution’s academic aspirations.
  • Goal 3: Steward and diversify resources invested by students, the public, and private stakeholders in a responsible way to ensure economic viability of the institution.

Did the University make progress toward the goals identified in the 2014-2019 strategic plan?

Yes, much progress was achieved in many of the metrics established to measure the success of the plan. To review the progress, please see the Strategic Plan 2014-2019 Progress Report.

Why does WSU need a new strategic plan?

The University has developed 5-year strategic plans every 5 years beginning with the plan created for 2002-2007.  The current Strategic Plan addresses the years 2014-2019.

Who can I contact if I want to comment on the strategic planning effort or ask a question?

You may email your comments to, complete this online form, or contact a member of the Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness Council.