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UW-Eau Claire begins creating strategic plan to guide campus through 2020

| Judy Berthiaume

As UW-Eau Claire’s first long-range strategic plan — the 2008-2016 Centennial Plan — nears its conclusion, it’s a time for the campus community to reflect on all that it has accomplished.

Eight years ago, hundreds of people from the campus and Eau Claire communities shared their ideas for UW-Eau Claire’s future.

UW-Eau Claire leaders have looked to the Centennial Plan over the years to guide decisions about how to enhance the Blugold experience and manage the enormous challenges the campus has faced.

With the Centennial Plan coming to an end in 2016, it’s now time to look to the future.

In early 2016, planning will get underway for UW-Eau Claire’s next strategic plan, a plan that will guide the campus through 2020.

The University Planning Committee will launch the effort with a Campus Conversation from 8-9:30 a.m. Jan. 20 in the Marketplace in Davies Center.

During that session, Chancellor James Schmidt will share an update on the current state of the university, review Centennial Plan accomplishments and lead a campus conversation about what kind of university we want for future Blugolds.

Chancellor Schmidt took a few minutes to share his thoughts around the strategic planning process and the value of coming together as a campus to imagine the university’s future.

The Centennial Plan already was in place when you came to UW-Eau Claire. How did the plan shape your thinking about our campus and the role you could play here?


The Centennial Plan was one of the things that attracted me to UW-Eau Claire. In it I saw a university focused on students. I saw a learning community that could be innovative and dared to set itself apart.

I also was pleased that this campus understood the importance of planning and setting specific goals — and working with our community — to make things happen.

While there are many Centennial Plan accomplishments, share a couple that really stand out to you.

The focus on high-impact practices has been so important for our students and has involved many, many of our faculty and staff.

Certainly, the Blugold Commitment, which has helped to fund those efforts, would not have happened without the direction of the Centennial Plan.

One initiative from the plan that I’ve been very involved with has been the Confluence Center and the transformation of our physical campus.

All those ideas were in the Centennial Plan and are coming to life, thanks to the efforts of so many across campus and our community.

The strategic planning website has some interesting summaries of what we have been able to accomplish and where we didn’t quite hit the mark. I encourage you to check it out. It’s a good reminder about how much faculty and staff have done for our students and this university over the past eight years.


How did the strategic plan help campus leaders manage the opportunities and the challenges the university faced in recent years?

I believe a good plan helps leaders set priorities. It can’t provide solutions for every challenge that arises, but it can lay out a clear vision for what should be preserved and the principles that guide decisions.

The Centennial Plan did that.

It said our vision is to be the premier learning community in the Upper Midwest. To me, that vision — which I very much believe in — requires that we protect our classrooms and that we focus on the learning experience for our students.

How will the Centennial Plan influence planning for the next four years?

The Centennial Plan has demonstrated that we can create a vision and goals that can truly guide our future.

The vision I mentioned, to be the premier learning community, will continue. Our mission will remain the same.

The four guidepost goals that we have made our priorities continue to be the right strategies for assuring student success, the heart of the Centennial Plan.

That said, higher education in Wisconsin has changed since 2008. We face new challenges to funding, competition for students, changing student needs.

What does that mean for the kind of university we want to be? What do we need to be able to promise the students of 2020? And what should we leave behind?

Those are the conversations we need to have now.


What do you hope to accomplish during the Jan. 20 campus conversation?

I hope that as many faculty and staff as possible will join me on Jan. 20. This is the opportunity for everyone to contribute ideas about our future.

In the face of a changing world, what must we preserve and what must we change?

The Jan. 20 discussions will help us better define the future we want to create together.

The Jan. 20 discussion is so important because the ideas we hear will be used for both the academic master plan and our university strategic plan.

The vision for our future must inform both those plans, and so this is the chance for all faculty and staff to have a voice in creating those plans.

How will the campus community be involved in the planning process following that January discussion?

Our planning efforts will be focused during spring semester.

The Jan. 20 session is the first and most direct way to contribute ideas for both the academic master plan and our university strategic plan.

In January, we also will have an online survey available for those faculty and staff who are unable to attend the January breakfast.

During the semester we’ll test the ideas we hear from faculty, staff and students, and ask the campus for additional feedback.

So there will be several opportunities for faculty and staff to contribute before the plans are finalized.