Strategic planning in student services: the Lutheran colleges and universities of North America
Jones, Ronald William
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Private, church-related institutions are not immune to the challenges facing other colleges and universities today. Funding cuts, declining budgets, rising tuition, declining enrollments and increased calls for accountability led, for example, to the closure of Upsala College at the end of the 1994-1995 school year. These challenges are of particular importance for the Student Services area, since it is often viewed as being on the periphery of an academic institution. If, in fact, the area is marginal to what higher education is all about, then it is a likely candidate for bearing the brunt of institutional cutbacks. The Student Services area must make its case as strategically as possible, both internally and as part of the larger institution, in order to defend its programs and to make them clearly part of a institution's mission and strategy. This study has three purposes. The first is to determine the status of strategic planning in the Student Services areas of Lutheran colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. The second is to survey the attitudes toward strategic planning of the Chief Student Services Officer (CSSO) in these institutions. The third is to validate the Jones-Hensley model for strategic planning for use in the Student Services area. To determine the status of strategic planning in the research population, the researcher analyzed documents submitted by the CSSO's, using a document checklist, to determine if they qualify as strategic plans and if they reveal a strategic-planning process. To survey attitudes, the researcher used a questionnaire to obtain demographic and other data and to determine their relationship to the practice and the perceived value of strategic planning. The questionnaire also asked for and gained disciplinary validation of the Jones-Hensley model for strategic planning. The researcher has also gained empirical validation for this model, based on field testing in a number of settings.