Mapping the future


Stetson’s future direction is heavily dependent on the university’s 2014-2019 strategic map draft. While this special edition addresses specific aspects of Stetson’s future, the map draft focuses on the university’s broader direction.

President Wendy Libby was the first Stetson president to break from the traditional multi-page, in-depth objectives document used to set goals and make changes for the university. Instead, she implemented a one-page strategic planning map that broadly addressed issues spanning all of Stetson, including the DeLand, Celebration, and Gulfport campuses.

The first strategic map, designed for 2011-2014, focused on “driving Stetson from success to significance.” It included six goals addressing aspects of student life, enrollment recruitment, academic improvement, facility infrastructure and employment. Increasing financial health and sustainability and applying the university’s values were two additional “cross-cutting” goals.

Strategic planning projects like this work by assessing and learning from immediate implementation of these goals. Changes around Stetson including faculty pay increases, building demolitions and renovations, and health and wellness initiatives resulted from the goals from this first strategic map.

In addition, assessment of the first map, which will close implementation at the end of this academic year, is a driving factor in determining the new map draft’s goals.

Dr. Karen Ryan, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, described the difference between the two maps while stressing that the newest is still in draft form. “The map that we’ve been using for the last five years was really a map to bring us up to full capacity,” she said. “This map that we’re going to be using going forward is more about really realizing the vision and realizing the full potential of the university.”

The newest strategic map draft, approved March 4, addresses five main goals categories for 2014-2019 that are designed to “establish Stetson as a university of choice for innovative approaches to tackling complex challenges.” Each of the five goal categories house more specific goals. Two cross-cutting goals for the whole map involve strengthening strategic partnerships and becoming an inclusively excellent community of diversity.

President Libby described the newest map draft as a holistic approach to Stetson’s future that stresses recruitment of the appropriate students, academic rigor and innovation, and fiscal resourcefulness. “What’s going on here is we don’t run the university as an unlimited smorgasbord, we run it as a place where you have to make choices. Otherwise, you can’t manage the financial life because you’re trying to do everything,” she said.

President Libby added that the map also focuses on Stetson’s strengths that make up the heart of the institution. “What we’re trying to do is things that we’re good at really, really well,” she said. “So, no, we’re not starting a pharmacy school even though they make a lot of money. It’s not where we are. We’re not starting a medical school. We’re not spending a lot of money to build a campus in Beijing. I mean, it’s just not who we are. But when it comes to learning that makes a difference, when it comes to working with students in a kind of up-close, high-impact way, that’s the kind of thing we’re going to do because that’s who we are, it’s what we do well, and it’s what we can do even better.”

The Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the strategic map draft in May.