Academic Master Plan distinguishes CSU as leader in higher ed

CST logoEditor’s note: This guest column was written by Professor Linda Nagel, head of the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, and Linda Dalton, planning consultant with Dalton Education Associates and a national expert in leading institutions of higher education through strategic and academic planning processes. Nagel and Dalton co-lead the Academic Master Plan process. The column is supported by a companion article providing an AMP overview: Academic Master Plan: Shaping CSU’s academic enterprise for the future.

Colorado State University’s forthcoming Academic Master Plan, or AMP, sets CSU apart as a leader in higher education at a time of rapid change. The Academic Master Plan aligns with CSU’s Courageous Strategic Transformation (CST) and aims to elevate the university’s longterm commitment to educational access, innovation and local impact in a globally connected society, in accordance with our land-grant mission.

Over the academic year we have been working with an advisory committee and many campus stakeholders to draft an integrated plan, with a target completion date of late May. During this final stage, we invite the campus community to provide input on key aspects of the draft plan at two virtual open forum events, Forum #1: April 19 at noon and Forum #2: April 20 at 4 p.m.

Linda Nagel
Linda Nagel

Why does CSU need an Academic Master Plan?

You may have heard about the impending “demographic cliff,” projections of a steady, long-term decline (not so much a “cliff”) in the traditional college-age population due to declining birthrates in the U.S. This shift has major implications for college enrollment in the mountain states. The U.S. as a whole and the state of Colorado are also becoming more diverse, with CSU aspiring toward federal recognition as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Along with these trends, learner needs are changing. In addition to demand for “traditional” degree programs, experts have identified a growing societal need for lifelong learning, credentialing, and upskilling to fulfill a broader array of learner goals and motivations. These high-level trends present an opportunity for CSU to create experiences, programs and structures that better serve a more diverse learner and constituency audience, while enhancing educational access and student success.

What makes AMP an inclusive process? 

Our goal through this process has been to engage deeply and broadly across faculty, staff and administrators to spotlight CSU’s areas of excellence and opportunity. This has resulted in extraordinary participation by campus stakeholders who care deeply about CSU’s mission, students, employees and broader community, and who share a commitment to the future of higher education.

The process included half-day events in October and February that brought together over 100 campus stakeholders to collaboratively “plan from the future backwards.” It also involved two community open forums held last fall in conjunction with CST.

Now there are additional opportunities to engage. We invite you to participate in one or both upcoming virtual open forums this month, where we are soliciting broad campus input on the academic themes, priorities and aspirations that have emerged from this collaborative work.

Linda Dalton
Linda Dalton

What have we discovered so far, and where are we headed?

Through AMP, the CSU community has identified themes that represent the intellectual strengths of the university, including Arts and Cultures, Data Analytics, Inclusive Excellence, One Health, Public Discourse and Democratic Institutions, Sustainability and Resilience, and Technological Innovation. These themes are interdisciplinary, collaborative and interconnected. Together, they embody the values of the CSU community, our distinction and our aspirations for excellence.

At the forums this month we seek further input from the campus community about these emerging themes, along with draft aspirations focused on increasing visibility for our world-class education, attracting and supporting an increasingly diverse array of learners, infusing education with more opportunities for research and engagement, and fostering a supportive culture for interdisciplinarity and collaboration. The Advisory Committee is developing strategies to achieve these aspirations and is particularly interested in hearing suggestions and ideas from the campus community.

We are grateful to the entire campus community for your rich contributions to these critical strategic planning efforts over the past year, and we are excited to actualize your hard work. CSU’s courageous vision, including our commitment to educational access, research and discovery, and broad community engagement, will prepare us for the future and strengthen our role as a global leader in land-grant education.