The Strategic Planning System

Throughout the summer of 2004, the comprehensive system quickly began to take shape. The Vice President of Learning Services, the Learning Services Deans, the Vice President of College Services, the Director of Grants, Planning and Institutional Research, and available faculty members drafted philosophy statements that embraced the learning college model and provided the unifying principles on which the new system would be built.

SVCC has always utilized committees and recognized that a good committee structure was a key element for providing systematic opportunities for the widest staff involvement and for movement toward a sense of shared governance. Based on the conceptual foundation provided by the Organizational Planning and Improvement System Chart, the responsibilities of the existing committees were reviewed and the gaps and overlaps in duties and responsibilities were identified. Duties and responsibilities were redefined and regrouped, and a new committee structure was formed.

At the August 2004 in-service, the new committee structure and planning system were proposed to the entire SVCC staff. Flow charts and tables were used to display committee relationships, information flow, and operations.

The task force of faculty and administrators who worked during the summer was then expanded with the purpose of coordinating the committee functions and establishing the timelines for completion of committee responsibilities. They invited comments and concerns from faculty and staff after the in-service presentation and modified the system as appropriate. The most significant modification made was to change the central focus of the Organizational Planning and Improvement System Chart from “Student Learning” to “Quality Learning.”

The strategic planning process is a function of the committee structure, and it, too, supports quality learning. Planning is not just an administrative function, but rather a function and responsibility shared by all employees through their involvement on committees and in their respective departments.

The committees are structured to gain widespread employee involvement and to enhance communication among committees. Particular attention was given to eliminating the “silos” in which previous committees operated, as committees now include crossover members from other committees. The new committee structure has increased collaboration throughout the College, involved more people in decision making, expanded the sense of shared governance within the institution, and now contributes more broad-based input into strategic planning.

The comprehensive committee structure contains both standing and special focus committees. There are seven standing committees with a total of over 100 total committee seats. The standing committees address broad areas of responsibility and are designed to be active participants in the College’s shared governance and strategic planning process. In addition to the standing committees, there are an additional 15 special focus committees with approximately 130 members. Each special focus committee exists to address a narrowly defined area, such as the bookstore or sabbatical leave, and meets only as needed. Combined, the two types of committees provide ample opportunity for employee involvement and input, and also assures a high degree of communication and coordination among the committees since many committees have overlapping membership. The inclusion of staff from all areas of the College and students from the student body yields diversity in insights; this should benefit students, the community, and the institution.

In early September, the new structure was ready for implementation. Committee members were tentatively determined during the in-service day, prior to the start of the fall semester 2004. Final committee membership was rounded out as the committee charges were finalized and distributed. Meeting schedules were determined and committees began their work.