Monday, December 14, 2009

Coker Strategic Planning is an interesting experience

The Coker College Strategic Planning Committee has divided into a series of issues committees and submitted papers that cover a great deal of the thinking that was involved in closing in on issues that should be the foundation of the new strategic plan. Dr. Wyatt, Coker's president, believes strongly in a solid strategic planning process and has Dr. Pat Lincoln, the College's provost, and Dr. Cathy Cuppett, directing the strategic planning effort. The goal is that a new strategic plan for the college will be in front of the college's Board of Trustees at their March meeting.
One goal of the process is to ensure that it is collaborative and early in the process meetings were held with representatives of most of the stakeholder groups for the college.

One of the goals of a strategic plan is to give specific direction for growth to the institution. The importance of planning became even more clear for me as I finished a short book called TRANSFORMING A COLLEGE by George Keller. Keller describes how Elon University transformed itself through planning from a rather non-descript small college into a dynamic institution that is growing in stature in nearly every area of that college.

While the book is a fairly short case study, all the key elements would make the blog post far too long. So, it seems like it might be a constructive idea to list Keller's analysis of the six features that helped stimulate Elon's growth. As the six are listed, it would be well to remember that strong leadership was fundamental to the entire process.

Those six features of Elon University's growth include:

1 -- Quality Everywhere
2 -- Addiction to Planning
3 -- People -- attention to selection, training and rewards at every level
4 -- Distinctive niche (student growth and student centered)
5 -- Financing growth with leverage
6 -- Marketing Skill (all of the Marketing Ps, not just promotion)

This was a quick read that gave me an enhanced perspective on how crucial it is to have a dynamic strategic plan.


  1. This note about strategic planning at Coker was sent out to the campus community: Dear Members of the Coker College Community and Friends of Coker College:

    I am writing to ask you to do something vital for the future well-being of Coker College. I am writing to ask that you participate in the College’s strategic planning process.

    If you go to the Coker College Strategic Planning webpage (, you will find links to “concept papers” on the ten themes listed below.

    • Professional and career preparation / development of life skills
    • Retention
    • Technology
    • Academic programs
    • Revenue stream / finances / marketing
    • Marketing and admission
    • Positive social environment for students
    • Athletics
    • Positive work environment
    • Competition

    Here’s where you come in. Please read any or all of the concepts papers and then provide your reactions via the message board set up for each paper. Please post your comments no later than January 9th, 2010. You will find links to the message boards for the concept papers at the same place that has the links to the concept papers themselves (i.e.,

    Each concept paper was written by a subcommittee of the Strategic Planning Committee (the list of members is available via the Strategic Plan webpage). Each concept paper is a summary of the major issues that the subcommittee identified as relating to its assigned theme, as well as the subcommittee’s suggestions as to how the College might address many of the issues. Feel free to comment on the issues or the suggested responses in a given concept paper and/or to propose other issues or responses related to that particular concept paper’s theme.

    As you can see from the timeline linked to the Strategic Plan webpage, the Strategic Planning Committee will use your comments on the concept papers as the basis for the development of the goals for the Strategic Plan. Please be sure that your views are considered by the committee. The validity of the entire strategic planning process depends upon broad participation by the College community and friends of the College. Please post your reactions to the concept papers on their respective message boards no later than January 9th.


    Pat Lincoln
    Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee

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