By: Amelia Rose Zimlich | Editor In Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Board of Trustees website
The Board of Trustees (BOT) voted unanimously to approve South Alabama’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan at its quarterly meeting on March 11.
Focus meetings held over the spring, summer and fall of 2021, town halls to assess opinions from the USA community and surveys completed by students, faculty and staff were utilized in the formation of the plan. Delayed by COVID, it was originally intended to take effect in 2021.
Chandra Brown Stewart, the chair of the Long Range Planning Committee, said during the meeting that the Board decided to update the plan rather than create an entirely new plan after President Waldrop announced his retirement.
“The next steps include development of specific objectives and performance indicators for each of the priorities and goals,” said Stewart. “Additionally…our community and campus community strongly encourage the university to invest and engage in crafting a new vision and clarifying the strengthening of its identity.”
The five points emphasized by the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan are as follows:
- Student Access and Success
- Graduate Education
- Research, Discovery and Creative Works
- University Community Engagement
- Excellence in Healthcare
Student Access and Success
The 2022-2027 Strategic Plan lays out several goals for South Alabama, including increasing enrollment over the next five years. In order to achieve this goal, the university aims to increase targeted efforts towards the following groups:
- students in the Gulf Coast region;
- adult learners;
- international students;
- dual-enrollment students;
- children of alumni; and
- graduate students
Along with increasing enrollment rates, the plan also aims to increase retention and graduation rates, as well as reduce equity gaps between the two. Graduation and retention rates were key issues discussed in the presidential forums held in 2021.
In regard to academic programs, South Alabama intends to increase options for virtual and hybrid classes. The university also plans to enhance students’ speaking and writing skills to prepare them for the professional world. South plans to provide professional development for faculty and staff as well as support that will allow them to provide a higher level of support to students.
The Strategic Plan includes goals directed towards student growth. Two of these include providing more opportunities for students to connect with role models and mentors with whom they identify and creating more non-academic activities to foster personal and leadership development. The plan also aims to make the campus a place where students value student services and student life.
The Strategic Plan also intends to maximize professional and research opportunities for graduate students, with a focus on those that play a part in improving the Gulf Coast region. Specifically, it plans to emphasize faculty research and how it connects with graduate research and the success of the graduate programs at the university.
Research, Discovery and Creative Works
The plan aims to capitalize on South Alabama’s reputation and increase recognition for the university throughout the nation. This includes developing Centers of Excellence and focusing on interdisciplinary and problem-based research to strengthen overall research in areas relevant both regionally and nationally.
South Alabama also plans to increase partnerships and collaborations, specifically with the following:
- governmental agencies;
- community colleges;
- industries; and
- not-for-profit entities
University Community Engagement
Through the Strategic Plan, South Alabama plans to increase engagement with students, faculty and the Gulf Coast region. This includes offering more internships, clinical guidance, research experiences, study abroad programs and service-learning opportunities to students.
The university also plans to increase its involvement with the local community in order to address challenges, form partnerships, engage in and support development in the workforce and economy and address issues impacting local educational and health outcomes.
Excellence in Healthcare
South Alabama plans to continue providing healthcare through USA Health and conducting research. Specifically, the university plans on maintaining the fiscal management and financial health of the USA Health System, ensuring high patient satisfaction and safety.
In the meeting, the BOT also voted to raise housing and dining rates and to remove the $150 fee for students for the summer.