Strategic Plan Goals
The environmental scan confirms that much of the CSU’s vision and overarching goals from the Cornerstones initiative remain right for the future: student access and success, service to the state, and sustaining institutional capacity for excellence. These goals need to be adjusted, however, to put much greater emphasis on heightened student learning and increasing levels of educational attainment. This must be done while meeting the needs for economic development, a sustainable future, the development of new “green” economies, and civic capacity; increasing funding; and strengthening the strategic use of resources within the institution. More needs to be done as well to anticipate changes within the institution that will guide the recruiting and nurturing of a new generation of faculty and staff, and to prepare for pedagogical change.
This new strategic plan sets forth three priorities for the institution:
- Increase student access and success;
- Meet state needs for economic and civic development, through continued investment in applied research and addressing workforce and other societal needs; and
- Sustain institutional excellence through investments in faculty and staff, innovation in teaching, and increased involvement of undergraduates in research and in their communities.
In implementing these goals, the CSU needs to distinguish between those to which it can immediately and unilaterally commit, and those that will require collaboration with other educational partners and with state policy leaders.
Commitments from the CSU
- Reduce existing achievement gaps. In adopting this strategic plan, the CSU leadership commits to halving existing achievement gaps within the next 10 years. The first step in accomplishing this will be to set clear goals and performance benchmarks that can be the basis for accountability for achieving these results. Work will need to occur at each of the points in the educational pipeline where leakages are occurring: in college-going rates among recent high school graduates; in first year retention rates; in transfer readiness and success; in baccalaureate degree completion; and in graduate and professional school readiness and completion. Detailed analyses are necessary to distinguish between systemwide goals and measures in these areas, and more specific metrics appropriate for individual universities. One significant system-level effort in this direction is the CSU’s participation in the “Access and Success” initiative led by the National Association of System Heads (NASH), which involves 20 public higher education systems across the United States. Participation in national initiatives such as NASH and others anticipated to develop within the next decade will permit the CSU to benefit from the lessons—positive and negative—from other higher education institutions in other regions about how best to increase student success.
- Plan for faculty turnover and invest in faculty excellence. The CSU will develop a comprehensive plan for reinvestment in its faculty to meet its goals of reducing compensation gaps and increasing the number of tenure-track faculty. In addition, the CSU commits to a comprehensive faculty planning effort, to include turnover planning, attention to recruitment and retention practices, and consideration of faculty development and evaluation strategies to support excellence in both pedagogy and scholarship. This work on faculty development will include investments in applied institutional research about effective pedagogy, effective practices in student engagement, and ways to improve educational outcomes. It is recognized that individual CSU universities have developed innovative programs with regard to workload reallocation for exceptionally productive faculty. The CSU will undertake a study to identify best practices in this regard and will disseminate information about such practices throughout the system.
- Plan for staff and administrative succession and professional growth. Attention to recruitment, professional development, and compensation for staff and administrators is also a priority. Complementary strategies to those that are employed for faculty need to be put in place. These strategies should include a commitment to closing salary gaps where they exist, providing a safe and healthy environment, and offering appropriate levels of training and development. CSU system leadership will engage in the analytical work needed to project administrative turnover, and will evaluate whether existing campus- and system-level policies are adequate to provide the type of succession planning that is central to the future success of the institution. System-level resources also need to be invested in nurturance of the next generation of academic and administrative leaders, to give them the knowledge, skills, and communication tools essential to leadership capacity for the future.
- Improve public accountability for learning results. The CSU commits to strengthening its accountability to the public for learning results, through implementation of programs like the Voluntary System of Accountability, which includes public communication of results from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), and/or other similar assessment instruments. It will be important to use findings from these accountability measures to inform curriculum and program improvements at the campus level. In acquiring stronger evidence about learning results, the CSU will also use its accountability efforts to measure effectiveness in meeting workforce and civic results. Efforts to reach out to employer groups in order to identify perceptions about the quality of CSU graduates will continue. An excellent example of such assessment is the ongoing work of the Center for Teacher Quality, which for several years has conducted surveys of satisfaction among employers of CSU-trained teachers. The CSU will also sharpen its efforts to document and communicate its effectiveness in producing graduates who meet institutional goals for civic contributions, including service to communities and political engagement.
- Expand student outreach. The CSU will continue its leadership in reaching out to new populations of students, beginning with expansion of “early outreach” efforts to middle schools. The great success of the Early Assessment Program needs to be deepened and extended, and strengthened through systemic partnerships with school districts throughout the state. The EAP model will also be extended into a larger platform for reaching 11th grade students and their families with information about financial aid, math and English preparation, study skills, and exposure to college life.
- Enhance student opportunities for "active learning." Substantial evidence exists to indicate that student involvement in research and community activities increases retention, enhances learning, contributes to building skills and habits of collaboration and problem-solving, and increases chances for success after graduation. Accordingly, the CSU will develop specific plans and programs to enhance opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to link classroom learning to research and community participation, including service, as part of their educational experience. The CSU has within it many institutions with exemplary programs in undergraduate research and service; these need to be translated to best-practice models and replicated throughout the system as a distinctive teaching and learning ‘brand’ for the CSU. Meeting this broad goal will also require attention to an improved infrastructure for applied research.
- Enhance opportunities for global awareness. The CSU universities deploy programs now that create understanding of global issues and foster the capacity to collaborate with partners both globally and locally. Across the coming decade, strong and effective programs to build global awareness need to be replicated throughout the system. Accordingly, the CSU will support faculty work that internationalizes curricula and the experiences of students and faculty alike.
- Act on the CSU’s responsibility to meet postbaccalaureate needs, including those of working professionals. The CSU needs to continue to expand its graduate and professional program offerings in order to meet the workforce needs of the state. Increasingly, California’s economy will depend upon workers with graduate, professional, and other forms of postbaccalaureate education. Special needs exist in science and technology, teaching, and nursing. In addition, the CSU will need to develop a systematic plan to expand capacity through university extension programs to promote better models for meeting the needs for continuing education and retraining of working men and women.
Priorities for Public Policy Attention, Including Cross-Sector Capacity
The California State University cannot accomplish all that must be done by acting on its own. To meet the future needs of the State of California, the CSU will need to be strategically linked with state policy leaders; P-12, community college, and University of California leaders; the business community; and the broad philanthropic community. The CSU alumni network is a rich resource to connect to those stakeholder groups, and needs to be part of the strategy-building to accomplish this goal. Issues that require such partnerships and state-level attention include building state policy capacity, funding, and statewide P-16 structures to better align curriculum, increase student preparation for college, and improve student transitions across educational sectors.
Public policy to grow expectations for degree attainment. Meeting California’s needs for increased degree attainment will require the CSU to join with other educational leaders and to re-engage with state policy-makers and community leaders for the purposes of educating them about the consequences of underperformance in higher education, securing the resources necessary to increase educational attainment levels, and evoking a policy commitment to achieving the agreed-upon results.
California needs to refresh its state policy goals for postsecondary education. This means setting goals for attainment that are appropriate to the social and workforce needs of this century and reflective of the missions of each institution. A new approach to master planning will be necessary—one focused on state needs that can only be met by postsecondary education, and accompanied by a realistic strategic financing plan to accomplish the goals of increasing access, success, and quality.
Without such a plan, California’s higher education institutions will be forced to find their own paths to survival—which could lead them to protect their respective bases, increase student selectivity, and focus more on obtaining private resources even if that means diverting from the priorities of expanding student access and improving learning. Such actions would inevitably result in greater stratification within higher education, and ultimately in society. This is an avoidable scenario. California is a state that has historically stepped up to the challenge of finding creative solutions to public problems. In the last century, this state was an international model for postsecondary education. It can be again.
Strengthened cross-sector (P-16) strategies and structures. Closing existing achievement gaps requires attention first to closing expectations and performance gaps among administrators and teachers, from elementary school through the university. The CSU needs to continue to focus on preparation of adequate numbers of well-trained teachers and to work with leaders in P-12 and the community colleges to create the structures needed to sustain effective learning strategies in our schools and to effect seamless educational transitions for students. Greater attention must be paid to strengthening cross-sector strategies to increase student preparation and achievement—strategies that will be sustained and focused, and for which institutions will be held accountable. It also will require commitment to building the infrastructure to support inter-sector work—analytical capacity to use data to diagnose where gaps are occurring; policy models to build and sustain learning interventions that enhance student success; and funding models that ensure that resources are invested in successful strategies, including fiscal incentives for collaboration among the segments.