Implementing Vision 2020 Furman University

Decentralized planning within centralized values and leadership

This Strategic Plan invites a future ongoing decentralized process of strategic planning within individual University departments and units. This is not to be understood as a scattered or disorganized process—a process that would be the antithesis of a true “strategy.” Rather, it recognizes the rich variety of programs that exist at Furman, and the widely differing needs and aspirations of various programs. These individualized strategic planning efforts, however, must all be guided by the larger policies and principles set forth in this Strategic Plan. Individual departments at Furman will have the freedom to adopt their own specific strategies in their ongoing quest for excellence, within the framework of the guiding values and principles articulated in this Strategic Plan. With regard to Furman’s academic mission, for example, individual academic departments—or, when appropriate, groupings of departments working collaboratively—are invited to set priorities and goals consistent with the principles set forth in this Strategic Plan. The University Administration and Trustees will in turn work iteratively and collaboratively with the departments to identify resources and set specific timetables for execution of those plans.

A process-oriented approach to future prioritizing

This Strategic Plan encourages decentralized creativity and ambition in an ongoing effort to strive for excellence. The Strategic Plan calls for the creation of a Strategic Improvement Fund, from which the resources for future quality investments shall be drawn. Inevitably, however, a robust University culture of creativity and ambition will generate more demand for resources than will be available at any given future moment in the University’s history. There will likely be more proposals for strategic improvement in any given year than there are resources available to invest in such improvement. This Strategic Plan adopts a process-oriented solution to the allocation of resources. Rather than attempt to predict and project where resources will be deployed, and in what sequence, over the course of the next decade, this Strategic Plan calls for a coherent process of ongoing decision-making.

Fostering a culture of ongoing strategic planning

In sum, this Strategic Plan is designed as a foundational document articulating the governing values and principles that will guide Furman through the decade 2011 to 2020. It is not a laundry list of specific projects and programs presented in the form of a mechanistic presentation of “to do” goals to be checked off as achieved, as they happen to present themselves in 2011. No snapshot of Furman’s most pressing needs and priorities in October of 2011 can reliably predict or direct decisions two, five, or nine years hence. Rather, this Strategic Plan is intended as a framework to channel discretion and guide the University community as it engages in an ongoing process of strategic and tactical deliberation and judgment in coming years. This Strategic Plan is the product of a broadly participatory and open discussion of “who we are” and “what we seek to be.” In candidly connecting money and mission, this Strategic Plan acts as a covenant in which the University has set its direction for where it wants to go. The next decade will be an evolving and dynamic effort to design the specific plans and direct the specific resources required to get there.

Furman's commitment to healthy deliberative process

These ongoing future processes will be collaborative and transparent, utilizing the existing deliberative structures of the University and reflecting Furman’s strong and healthy traditions of shared governance. When appropriate, specific task forces or ad hoc committees will be appointed to study and propose solutions to specific challenges facing the University. Such recommendations will in turn be presented to the appropriate governance structures of the University for consideration, approval, and implementation.

Moving forward immediately—a running start

As this Strategic Plan was in the process of presentation to the Furman faculty and Board of Trustees in October 2011, many implementation processes had already begun, reflecting the strong community consensus that the planning process had revealed about certain key elements of Furman’s identity and future aspirations. These include, for example, the work of the Task Force on the Student Experience, the first stages of execution of the Student Life Master Plan, the execution of a Strategic Plan for Information Services, and the convening of a Campus Climate Task Force. Similarly, implementation of new processes and policies contemplated by this Strategic Plan in areas such as budgetary policies, admissions, and financial aid policies had already begun in 2011. So, too, the Strategic Plan’s emphasis on strong engagement with the Greenville community was manifest, as the Plan was being adopted, in numerous exploratory discussions and negotiations with potential partnering entities in the community.

The implementation of the aspirations set forth in Vision 2020 has a running start. This process will continue, throughout all units of the University, guided by an open and collaborative approach to central leadership, in keeping with what the strategic planning process has revealed as the authentic values and aspirations of the Furman community.

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