New strategic plan to build on success and expand service to students and society
What comes to mind when you hear the words “strategic plan?” For many, the phrase elicits groans and conjures images of dusty tomes tucked away and forgotten in a bottom drawer somewhere. Notebooks that rarely, if ever, see the light of day.
Not so for Unity College. The recently closed strategic plan, served as an important guide for daily work and serves as the foundation for the continuing strategic transformation of America’s Environmental College.
In 2014, the Unity College Board of Trustees adopted “Building a Beacon: The Unity College Strategic Plan,” which called for investment in distance education, improvements to the residential experience of students, and increased access to a national and global market through a major branding study.
Due in large measure to the initiatives outlined in Building a Beacon, between 2012 and 2018, Unity College saw fall headcount increase by 43 percent, operating revenue increase by 66 percent, square footage increase by 62 percent, and number of employees increase by 34 percent.
Now, the Beacon is largely built, and in May of 2018, the Unity College Board of Trustees enthusiastically endorsed the successful stewardship of Building a Beacon, and requested a new strategic plan – one that would serve through 2025 – be developed.
Unity College 2025, the next strategic plan, will shift the higher education decision-making paradigm toward an audience-first approach.
“The new strategic plan puts responsiveness to our audiences – those we know well, those we are just introducing ourselves to, and those we haven’t met yet – above all else,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “This is a novel approach in higher education, but as the landscape continues to shift, audiences are becoming increasingly important. And when I say ‘audiences,’ that could mean anyone from learners, partners, foundations, investors, donors, and the list goes on. We are not fulfilling our mission if we only serve one audience. My hope with this plan is that it will allow Unity College to be nimble enough to meet the needs of every audience.”
“Audience” is best defined as a segment of society that needs a program, experiences, or product that Unity College can meet. Audience answers the “Who?” in “Who do we serve?” Unlike other strategic plans, Unity College 2025 is not a list of important projects, but a framework for prioritization and decision making. Unity College has chosen to prioritize the element of audience above all else.
The chart on the left outlines college decision-making priorities from the largest encompassing tab (audience) to the most embedded tab (unit). Elements inside another element are in a subservient and service role to that element.
“The world needs more Unity College-educated leaders, not fewer. With that in mind, we want to connect with more people from all over the world like never before. In doing so, Unity College will become an inclusive group that goes into the world and starts to solve very real and pressing problems,” said Dr. Khoury. “That is why it is so important for the College to serve not only those audiences that we already know and serve, but those that we may not even know about. That is what I’m hoping this strategic plan does.”
Unity College 2025 has three goals:
To serve audiences through engagement with Unity College and its mission in response to clearly identified needs.
Establish the Enterprise approach at Unity College as an exemplar of organizational flexibility and responsiveness.
Share the story of Unity College through powerful storytelling and inspiring thought-leadership.
“At Unity College, we are trying to create a new model for success that other colleges can adopt and adapt to fit their own needs,” Dr. Khoury continued. “We’re working to get more responsive to the needs of society, to find new audiences that need America’s Environmental College, and to bring our made in Maine education and services to them, no matter where they are in the country or the world. We still have a long way to go before we’re ready to unveil the new strategic plan in its entirety. But I’m personally very excited to share this with everyone in May 2019.”
Now, when Dr. Khoury references the traditionally yawn-inducing phrase “strategic plan” to faculty and staff during professional development, the new iterative approach will spring to mind instead of the dated binder hiding deep in a corner office closet.
To view Dr. Khoury’s August 2018 introduction of the new strategic plan, visit president.unity.edu.