Strategic plan has CSU's future looking bright

Clayton State University faculty members and students gathered in the ballroom of the University's Student Activity Center, Thursday evening, to get a preview of what's to come, as President Thomas "Tim" Hynes laid out the school's "strategic plan."

"A strategic plan," Hynes explained, "is a process by which an institution identifies a clarity of vision, mission, and a clarity of it's values."

During his presentation, he expounded on each –– the vision, mission, and goals for the university, which include the following:

• Vision: Through a distinctive combination of proven and innovative methods of teaching and learning, Clayton State University will excel in preparing students from many walks of life to meet the challenges of living and working in a dynamic, global society.

• Mission: Clayton State University cultivates an environment of engaged, experienced-based learning, enriched by active community service, that prepares students of diverse ages and backgrounds to succeed in their lives and careers.

• Values: Active learning and student success, teaching and scholarship, inclusiveness, ethics and integrity, and community engagement.

"The work of the Clayton State Strategic Planning Advisory Committee has been done in the context of changing times for higher education, as well as a necessity for this university to be able to define success on our own terms," said Hynes. "Terms that reflect an authentic assessment of who we are, where we have been, and what we can do as well –– if not better –– than other institutions of higher education."

In brief, the strategic plan is much more than bricks and mortar, although there are plans for more student housing and classroom space. As stated on the university's web site, it is about:

"How every student graduating from our institution will leave having had at least one opportunity for active learning — to learn by doing; How each of our students will agree to a contract of social responsibility, and for some, a contract of social engagement; How our faculty and academic programs will be rewarded by using and assessing new and innovative ways to foster learning in a changing learning environment; How we will more widely seek new and larger audiences for the successes in learning for our faculty, students, and staff, and how we will find more funding partners, as a result, who will share in our learning successes; How we will grow partnerships with our communities in the public and private and non-profit sectors, to share in the successes associated with higher education learning — be that learning in the form of research, service or teaching."

Latrice Barlow, a certified medical assistant and office manager for University Health Services, said she has been employed with the university for 6 years, and from her observation, year-by-year, the campus continues to expand. She said her take on the new strategic plan is that it will increase the capacity of the campus. And for her, that's a positive.

"I think it will be wonderful for our students and wonderful for growth," said Barlow. "Especially with us expanding out into the community to bring in more students and continue to be a part of the elite [when it comes to universities.]"

LaDonna Williams, a senior majoring in Theater Arts, said she's interested in the "future" theater that will be constructed on the university's campus. "I was looking on the plan for the buildings, and saw we will have a theater built –– and I'm really excited about that," said Williams.

Currently, she said, the theater is tucked away in a secluded area where no one notices it. Having a new theater, she explained, will allow students the opportunity to become more involved in theater productions. Williams said she knows that she will be graduating and leaving the campus, but said, "I want to understand what's going to happen for the future. Even though I will not be here, I want to see how my school will grow."

Another senior, Whitney Smith, who is studying Liberal Studies and Psychology, said what

peaked her interest was the projection for new residential buildings. "Clayton State used to be a commuter college, when I first [arrived on campus,] and that's when the dorms first opened," she said. "So, to see them build two more dorms is amazing."

Hynes said the goal is to start implementing the strategic plan immediately, and continue to add on, based on 5-year projections.

"A strategic plan is a living document," he said. "It will come to life as the campus uses it to frame our activities. Our success at every level of the university will be assessed by the degree to which each of us can act to successfully implement these goals."