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Strategic Planning Background

Harper College is engaged in a community-based strategic planning process.

William Rainey Harper College utilizes a broad, collaborative, community-based strategic planning process to ensure the College continues to meet the changing needs of our students and community. Harper College engages in frequent assessment of the students and the community we serve. Prior to development of the Strategic Plan, an Environmental Scan was completed. The results of this scan highlighted the demographic changes occurring in our district. In recent years, the district experienced a sizable decrease in household income and a notable increase in historically underrepresented populations. Additionally, these district changes were happening during a time of decreased state funding, local property tax caps and shrinking high school graduation class sizes. It became clear that the College needed to engage in an extensive evaluation to inform development of Strategic Plan that addressed a major change agenda. This would enable the College to produce higher levels of student achievement and increase student support, all while reprioritizing current resources.

The College utilized the following process to develop its community-based Strategic Plan with the guidance of the Strategic Planning and Accountability Committee (SPA), a shared governance committee. The process included:

  • A broad-based assessment of the progress made and the challenges encountered in the previous Strategic Plan and a review of community and student data.
  • Four dialogue sessions to invite broad-based campus discussion on the issues facing the Institution. The dialogue sessions included presentations from industry experts, as well as expert panelists of Harper faculty and staff. Employee feedback was a critical component of these sessions and included discussion, input groups and survey opportunities. The four sessions included Harper’s Changing District; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT); Approaches to the Adult Market; and Student Engagement.  
  • A strategic planning conference for internal and external stakeholders with a goal of producing strategic directions and goal themes for the new strategic plan. The conference brought together educators, community and business leaders, and other strategic thinkers to help us define broad directions for the College and ensure alignment with community partners. Resource materials were provided for all conference attendees to ensure an understanding of the issues facing Harper College and its students. These resources highlighted best practices in higher education and community colleges as well as documented the results from the four dialogue sessions. Three Strategic Directions and five goal themes were identified during the conference.
  • The three Strategic Directions and five goal themes were developed into statements and supporting paragraphs by the SPA Committee and its ad hoc work groups, after additional discourse with internal and external stakeholders.
  • In fall 2015, the new Strategic Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees and implemented by the College.