SPCS begins implementing strategic plan with focus on mission alignment of degree & non-degree programs, cross-campus collaboration

November 14, 2017

SPCS shared its Strategic Plan publicly in August. The SPCS Strategic Plan is the result of an 18 month long process, which included interviews, focus groups, and survey results with various constituencies. We adopted a collaborative, integrative, four-phased approach to our strategic plan. We’re now in Phase 4 – Plan Implementation. During the first part of this phase, we’re focusing on our educational mission as one of five academic schools at the University and leveraging our core competencies as we prioritize the initiatives developed by our key working groups.

We’re currently implementing the following actions:

  • Evaluating and adjusting our offerings to ensure our portfolio moving forward is aligned to the educational mission of our school (supports Goal 1)
  • Realigning our offerings to reflect three business segments (supports Goal 4 and Goal 1):
    • Degrees: Undergraduate and graduate programs to support the educational needs of the nontraditional students throughout the greater Richmond region
    • Professional Education: Those offerings which are focused on the needs of working professionals seeking credentials, certificates, or general coursework which can be applied immediately or in the short term to the workplace
    • Lifelong Learning: Specific offerings selected to make the unique assets of a National Liberal Arts university accessible across generations in the broader Richmond community
  • Collaborating with other units across campus to eliminate or reduce duplication of efforts by providing logical administrative homes for programs where it makes sense to do so (supports Goal 4)

To support these actions, we’re undertaking a degree program review and embarking on a market research study with University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s (UPCEA) Center for Research and Strategy.

The degree program reviews will be managed as a collaborative process among faculty, staff and administration. The Dean and her administrative team have oversight of the process in which the faculty take the lead and the staff play an integral supporting role. Involving all parties ensures that the process is one of self assessment and discovery that will impact future program planning and assist in optimizing a variety of current strategies, tactics, and processes ranging from marketing and recruitment to budget planning and student support.

Our program review process will critically examine nine content areas to help frame an analysis and recommendations to the dean:

  • Program overview
  • Mission alignment
  • Value of credential to graduates
  • Demand and interest
  • Program sustainability and growth
  • Program impact
  • Budget matters
  • Staffing
  • Unique administrative demands

We'll spend 1-2 years conducting our program reviews:

Our market research study with UPCEA includes:

  • Degree Program Portfolio Analysis
  • Market Opportunity Analysis
  • Employer Interviews

UPCEA will conduct an analysis of our existing degree program portfolio using its Portfolio Decision-Making Model (PDMM) to identify which programs are in alignment (and out of alignment) with positive market and occupational trends. The UPCEA portfolio analysis takes into account various enrollment and financial inputs that SPCS maintains and factors in competitive variables and occupational forecasts. UPCEA will also conduct an opportunity analysis of the greater Richmond workforce. The analysis ranks the highest potential occupations in the area and incorporates competitive activity and institutional alignment. The study will conclude with interviews with key area employers to confirm the results of the portfolio model and further assess new programming opportunities identified through the opportunity model.

We anticipate the market research study to conclude in January with recommendations available early in the spring 2018 semester. We'll incorporate the study's findings into our program review process as well as into the ongoing review of our non-degree offerings.

As we continue to move forward with the implementation of our Strategic Plan, we're also committed to actively seeking ways to align the operations and procedures of SPCS to those of the University where possible and appropriate. Most importantly, we want to ensure our efforts and offerings are accessible to the broader Richmond community.