More than 60 years ago, futurist author Alvin Toffler wrote a national bestselling book, in which he predicted that the pace of technological change would continue to escalate at an ever increasing rate. He also postulated that the ten-year strategic plans which were the “norm” in the 1970’s and 80’s would soon be replaced by projections of five years…or even fewer. Although many of his projections did not “come true” for nearly 30 years, his basic tenet has unquestionably been validated.
Beginning with its 1995-96 effort, Coastal Carolina Community College adopted a radically different approach to its strategic planning, one that involved devoting a lot of time, thought, and discussion with the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and student leaders. The goal was to reach consensus on a set of strategic themes, which would reflect the College’s fundamental values as well as its assessment of the most important needs of the students and the community we serve. Four strategic planning themes emerged: Educational Quality, Technology, Teamwork and Partnerships, and Economic Development.
Three of those four themes have continued to drive this College for more than 20 years. The fourth, “Technology,” became such a fundamental part of the daily operation of the College that it was no longer viewed as a “planning theme.” During the 2005-06 strategic planning process, “Technology” was replaced with “Student Success,” reflecting the College’s growing commitment to finding ever more effective ways to help students achieve their educational and career goals.
Student Success, focused on engaging students in formulating, revising, and achieving their educational goals has become the more comprehensive and thematic planning focus of the institution. Student learning, in particular learning how to learn using a variety of learning resources, is the fundamental tool for helping students fulfill their dreams.
The environment for Student Success is evident throughout the institution. A recent team of peer reviewers from the Aspen Institute stated, “The institutional commitment to supporting students is amplified by the efforts of faculty and staff who are dedicated to serving students and ensuring they are successful.”
The strategic planning process involving our key stakeholders, enhanced by the insights of the Aspen Institute’s team of community college peer reviewers, has strengthened our commitment to our four themes. We are now even more confident that our “Strategic Themes” of Educational Quality, Student Success, Teamwork and Partnerships, and Economic Development are the best “lens” for us to use, in visualizing and adopting meaningful goals and objectives for Coastal Carolina Community College.
David L. Heatherly