In the fall of 1998, after a three-year, campus-wide
process that involved hundreds of students, faculty and staff, San
Francisco State University
enthusiastically adopted a new strategic plan.
That shared vision has energized and guided the campus since then, proving
through concrete accomplishments to have been a plan that fit this University
well. At our request, it became the basis for the University's
self-study and 2001 re-accreditation review by the Western Association
of Colleges and Universities (WASC).
Why, then, just four years into a plan that was envisioned as a guide
to the next 10 years, did the University establish another Commission
on University Strategic Planning, CUSP II, in order to rethink the institution's
future once more?
WASC was one part of the answer. The highly positive re-accreditation
report included eight recommendations (www.sfsu.edu/~acadplan/wascteamreport.htm),
several of which touched on important strategic planning issues and
served to encourage a fresh discussion. Chief among those issues
needs, student learning, and quality criteria for graduate programs.
Many of the other spurs to a renewed strategic planning effort lay
outside the University. In 1998, California was still feeling flush
high-tech boom. NASDAQ and the S&P 500 were on their way to the historic
heights they would reach two years later. When looking to the University's
future, it was reasonable to anticipate both a strong regional economy
and state support that would encourage new initiatives. In addition,
in 1998, the Higher Education Partnership between the State and the CSU
assured San Francisco State University of strong base funding, including
fixed annual increases in general fund support and additional revenue
to "buy down" student fees, averting the need for an increase.
A year later, the agreement was modified. By the start of CUSP II in
early 2002, the dot-com boom had collapsed, the partnership agreement
could not be funded, and the campuses were seeing their first multi
million-dollar funding cuts. Over the course of CUSP II's work,
the University would struggle to absorb some $31 million in reductions
to its general
During the 1995-98 work of CUSP I, the anticipated statewide enrollment
surge known as Tidal Wave II was hitting the shore primarily in Southern
California. In the seven Bay Area counties, high school graduate numbers
were increasing only modestly, while in San Francisco, the high school
population was actually shrinking, as families left the city. San Francisco
State University's enrollment was steady but not rising, inviting
discussion of redefining the University as a destination campus, one
that would aim to attract more of its students from throughout and
beyond the state.
But with budget cuts prompting changes in CSU enrollment policy, the
need to balance access with the University's
ability to provide classes and other services led to a need to reconsider
enrollment priorities and strategies.
International student enrollment, an intellectual and social asset
to the University and a contributor to its budget, was strong and rising.
The attacks of 9/11 would eventually touch on that student population,
as well on other aspects of campus life.
Internally, new tenure-track faculty had not yet become the significant
proportion of the University population that they are today. In recent
years, an expected wave of retirements and an active faculty recruiting
effort have begun to reshape the faculty. By fall 2004, one in every
three tenure-track faculty members had been hired within the last five
this new cadre into the life of the University and preparing them for
their future leadership role have taken on new importance.
Since 1998, the campus has markedly expanded its footprint. The acquisition
of 47.6 acres of adjacent property, containing both housing units and
recreation space, and 11 more acres at the Romberg Tiburon site, has
meant both new opportunities and new needs for planning.
Change demands response, and this picture of significant change in the
fiscal, physical, social, and educational environment in which San Francisco
State University functions spurred a second wave of strategic planning.
Following the highly successful model of CUSP I, a campus-wide group
of faculty, students, staff, and administrators came together early
in 2002 to start the new planning process. They began by identifying
a set of "defining questions" for
The questions -- some
50 of them, grouped under such themes as Defining Ourselves, Instructional
Priorities/Resource Allocations, The Student Experience, and Structure
and Delivery -- provided both a stimulus and a framework for the
The questions clustered around these areas of inquiry:
- What should we be to whom? How will we
achieve this? What will stop us?
- What are our academic priorities
and how can we use them to guide resource
- What should the role of graduate
and professional education be at SFSU? How should
we be supporting it?
- What kind of University experience
do we want our students to have?
- How do we
attract the best faculty and staff to the University? How can
SFSU a fulfilling place for them to work?
- Do we want to become a destination
campus? What will it mean for the
if we do?
- Do we have the most effective
structure and delivery systems to support our educational
- What is our proper community
The questions formed the basis of the work of more than 150 people in four planning
groups structured to define goals, objectives, outcomes, and strategies in four
important areas of University endeavor: the Academic Experience, the Student
Experience, the Employee Experience, and
the University and Its Environment. The reports provided by these four planning
groups (www.sfsu.edu/~acadplan/cuspIIpg.htm) were then used by CUSP II
in crafting a comprehensive strategic plan for the University.
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