Lefton: Strategic plan revisions are modest but focused

Christina Stavale

Over the next year and a half, President Lester Lefton said revisions to the university’s mission and vision statements, core values and strategic goals will set the tone for where Kent State is headed.

The mission and vision statements, Lefton said, define “who we are and who we aspire to be as a university.” The strategic goals serve as an outline for the university’s actual strategic plan, which will undergo changes once the current revisions are finalized.

In April, Lefton proposed changes to these elements of the university’s strategic plan. The changes, he said, are “modest but focused” and highlight Kent State’s role as a research institution.

While Lefton said Kent State is already very much a research institution, focusing on research will benefit students in all fields by having cutting-edge and up-to-date faculty.

“Regardless of the field, all of our faculty are engaged in scholarship and research,” he said.

He said this research can be laboratory, library or field-based.

The proposed changes to the vision statement also highlight Kent State becoming a “prototype of the 21st century public university.”

Lefton said this involves making Kent State a school of choice and attracting people from out of state to come to Ohio. In fields such as liquid crystal physics, fashion and journalism, he said Kent State has already succeeded in this respect. He would like to bring more programs to this level, such as biomedical sciences, nursing, architecture and education.

Such revisions are common when a university has a new president and a new provost, as Kent State does, Lefton said. Also, he said, such revisions are a healthy for the university.

“The strategic planning process is part of a continuing self-assessment, and where necessary, realignment and readjustment,” he said.

The adjustments will bring about “evolutionary, not revolutionary” change to the university, and focus on students. Lefton said the current strategic plan elements do not have much of a focus.

“It tries to be everything to everyone,” he said.

Lefton has also asked for faculty and student feedback by early fall. He said he is hoping for, and expecting, “modest revisions.”

At Monday’s Faculty Senate meeting, faculty senators discussed the proposed revisions.

Elwin Robison, professor of architecture and environmental design, said he would like to see a strategic goal based on faculty development, something that is not included on the proposed revision.

Chris McVay, lecturer in English and Pan-African studies, pointed out that certain parts of the mission statement call for “creative expression,” which emphasizes the importance of the humanities.

Cheryl Casper, chair of Faculty Senate and professor of economics, said although she believes the timeline for the revisions is ambitious, they are not trying to “sneak this in over the summer.”

“The changes are small changes,” Lefton said, “but changes that will make a difference in who we are, who we want to be and what steps we will take to get there.”

Contact principal reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].

The current set of strategic principles are to:

• Encourage innovation in learning.

• Focus on those we serve.

• Engage with the world beyond our campuses.

• Build and sustain relationships that foster success.

Some of the proposed strategic goals and principles are to:

• Encourage innovation and excellence in teaching and learning outcomes.

• Promote excellence in research and creative endeavors.

• Focus on those we serve, especially our students.

• Engage and connect with the world beyond our campuses, especially by reaching out to multiple constituencies.

• Build and sustain relationships and economic development opportunities with our alumni, communities and businesses that foster success for them and for Ohio.

• Secure our financial future by building a strong endowment and through efficient management.