CSU Dominguez Hills to Introduce Strategic Framework for the Future
After a semester’s worth of data gathering, the crafting of a five-year strategic framework that will help to establish California State University, Dominguez Hills as the “model urban university” is nearing completion. This summer, President Mildred García will introduce “CSU Dominguez Hills: A Framework for Our Future” in a Webcast message to the campus community.
Earlier this year, nine town hall meetings were held in the Loker Student Union ballroom to collect feedback from students, faculty, staff and members of the community as to the core values, mission and goals for the university. Campus and community members also participated in an online survey.
Following this step, a committee of faculty and staff members, called “synthesizers,” met in late March to process the collected data. Led by organizational strategist and consultant Carolyn J. C. Thompson, the group spent two and a half days analyzing the many ideas that were generated by the campus community, in order to craft the first drafts of a mission statement, vision statement, and list of core values.
The strategic planning synthesizers represented a cross-section of staff and faculty from across the campus: Dr. Mitch Maki, dean, College of Professional Studies; Dr. John Thomlinson, associate professor and chair, Department of Biology; Dr. Carole Shea, director, School of Nursing; Dr. Patricia Kalayjian, associate professor and chair, Interdisciplinary Studies/PACE; Lui Amador, coordinator, Multicultural Center; Emmit Williams, director, Procurement and Contracts; Dr. Roderick Hernandez, assistant professor of English; and Dr. Munashe Furusa, chair, Academic Senate and associate professor of Africana studies. Finally, stakeholder gatherings of alumni, donors, community and business members, and elected officials were held in April in Club 1910 at the Loker Student Union, where guests were asked to describe how, five years from now, they envisioned CSU Dominguez Hills had become a “model urban university”as it related to academic offerings, student success, connections to the community, and public image.
Kalayjian says that the data collected from the town halls and online survey provided not only a wide range of ideas, but that many common themes emerged from the input of the diverse groups of constituents.
“ ‘Synthesizer’ may not be a common or even a very felicitous title, but it does describe exactly our roles,” she notes. “The master plan is the result of the synthesizers analyzing the data and bringing together a wide range of ideas into major thematic categories. As synthesizers, we were carefully instructed not to bring ideas ourselves but to look deeply at what the community said, to consolidate [their] concerns as well as dreams, and to express those ideas clearly and succinctly.”
“Following the principle of inclusion is bound to lead to success, because no one group or person has the right [or] best answer to the challenges we all face in academia,” says Shea of the synthesizing process that revealed to the team the community’s concerns over accessibility, service, community involvement and the importance of student life. “The synthesizers brought such different perspectives to the task, but I think we accurately represented the many constituencies on campus. Having the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings with the other synthesizers helped to crystallize the important concepts and overarching themes.”
Williams says that the experience of working on the synthesizer team showed him an “intensity of thought” that was expressed in the town hall meetings by the campus community.
“The synthesizer meetings allowed us time to discuss, share and dissect the information that was collect both from the Town Halls and from interactions with others who were not able to attend the [meetings] but felt comfortable enough to give us their opinions,” he says. “I believe that intensity, caring and hope for the students and the university is summarized in the outcome.”
While disseminating the town hall data, Thomlinson was impressed by “the genuine commitment, indeed love, that so many people out there have for Dominguez Hills.”
“One grandmother was really proud of the legacy – her daughter attended [CSU Dominguez Hills]; now her grandson, she hoped, would too,” he notes. “I had always associated the idea of “legacy” university with famous East Coast institutions, and this insight was wonderful.”
“Another aspect I found particularly interesting and instructive was the fact that so few participants thought of us, first and foremost, as an urban university,” he continues. “We are surrounded by urban development, no question, but they felt that we were a haven, an oasis, in that development.”
Following President García’s Webcast, department chairs will schedule one-hour Strategic Framework Discussions to address how faculty and staff will carry out the university’s mission, demonstrate and live its core values, and effectively align to move the university into the future. Data gathered at these meetings will be presented at a “Framework for the Future” town hall meeting near the beginning of the fall semester.
For more information see the strategic planning website at www.csudh.edu/strategicplanning.
- Joanie Harmon