Strategic Planning Forum envisions Ramapo ‘Boldly Ascending’

If President Cindy Jebb’s State of the College Address on Feb. 15 celebrated Ramapo’s successes this past year and addressed future hopes, then last week’s planning forum laid the groundwork for how to turn those hopes into a reality. Ramapo staff and faculty from all departments and offices across campus gathered together in Trustees Pavilion for the first of four planning forms for Ramapo’s new Strategic Plan, titled “Boldly Ascending.”

As the first planning forum, it served as an overview of the Strategic Plan, outlining the three goals, the 10 objectives and the 13 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the plan’s success.

Brittany Williams-Goldstein, chief of staff for the Office of the President and vice president for policy, research and governance, opened the event by giving a rundown of what would be discussed and when. She also said the event was a time for learning.

“When we work as a team, when we move forward on goals, we should always be learning along the way. And if that learning leads us to improvement, great. But if we’re all really already doing a pretty good job… then we’re learning that we might not need to improve too much,” Williams-Goldstein said.

President Jebb came up to the podium next to give the story of how the college has reached this point with “Boldly Ascending.” Jebb described the process as “data-informed.” The story began in November 2021 with the Future Series. Jebb said the data came in many forms from speakers to numeric data points and even the general trends within the workplace and higher education. These discussions informed the other stages of the 14-month planning process, which ended in January 2023 with the Board of Trustees approving “Boldly Ascending.”

Three goals

Williams-Goldstein came back to the podium to introduce the members of the Strategic Plan Writing Team to explain the three goals of “Boldly Ascending.” Each subcommittee that worked on each goal and its objectives gave a more in-depth explanation with some specific examples.

The first goal is academic excellence and student success. Co-chair Naseem Choudhury explained academic excellence as including “both rigor and relevance” to “prepare students for an ever-changing world.” A key part of the success part to the goal is mentorship as strengthening Ramapo’s culture of mentorship and support systems is one of the objectives.

The other objectives include subject expertise in the curriculum, functional expertise and growing opportunities for civic engagement to make a positive societal change.

The second goal is an inclusive community. Subcommittee chair Joseph Connell noted that the objectives of this goal “cascade” because they start at a personal level and conclude with campus pride. The first objective is promoting healthy practices for personal well-being, and Judith Green of Counseling Services said it is up to the individual to determine how they want to promote these practices.

The next two objectives are about advancing a culture of equity and inclusion by embracing diversity and accountability, elevating voices and examining powers of structure and privilege on campus. The other two objectives are developing future leaders who act as agents of change and fostering school pride by building relationships and enhancing community engagement.

The third and final goal is agile stewardship. It involves driving institutional distinction, galvanizing community partners and members and building resilience and organizational agility. Williams-Goldstein explained that reliance in this case is “adjusting in a healthy way when change comes our way.”

The first objective involves gaining recognition and spreading Ramapo’s name to new audiences. The second objective is bolstering college pride by serving as both a public institution and an employer of choice. The other two objectives are securing long-term financial sustainability and strengthening organizational resilience through sustainable and data-informed practices.

Key performance indicators

Key Performance Indicators will help Ramapo know if it is making progress towards its goals. Photo by Matthew Wikfors

Williams-Goldstein also explained the KPIs, which can largely be measured by data. For example, the retention rate between second and third-year students has declined over the past few years. Seeing those numbers go up would be a sign of all three goals being successful for the KPI of retention rate. A few other KPIs include diversity among the Ramapo community in relation to the New Jersey population, employee satisfaction, peer assessment score and revenue diversification.

“The work that begins here doesn’t end today,” Williams-Goldstein said. Her words served as a reminder that these discussions and reflections are the groundwork for attendees to draft and implement their unit effectiveness plans in order to achieve the goals of “Boldly Ascending” and embody Ramapo’s mission statement.

Featured photo by Matthew Wikfors