Public Input Sought on College Strategic Plan

Dalton State College has been engaged in updating our Strategic Plan since December. This is a process led by a capable committee of faculty and staff representing a broad cross section of the institution. At this point, we need your help. I will share the draft if you contact me, but in this space I want to describe the work of the Strategic Planning Committee and explain how you can assist us.

The Strategic Planning Committee reviewed our current Mission and deemed it in need of revision. The Mission Statement is intended to articulate to the world who we are, what we strive to provide, and whom we serve through our existence. We are not the same institution we were when our current Mission was written a decade ago, despite being updated five years ago. While we decided at the onset that we would continue to embrace our mission as an access institution, we are no longer an institution that offers primarily associate (two-year) degrees with a few baccalaureate (four-year) degree programs. The majority of our students are now enrolled in one of 21 (and counting) baccalaureate degree programs at Dalton State. We have students living on campus; soon in a four-story modern residence hall with meal service provided on campus seven days per week and three meals per day.

As a sidebar, I will elaborate again upon why we decided to affirm our access mission. A decade ago, it may have made sense to talk of becoming a university. But the world has changed for all of us since that time. In order to serve the needs of this region at this time, we feel strongly that we must remain affordable and attentive to the pedagogical needs of our students. We want to achieve higher levels of success and even fame as an institution that emphasizes high quality teaching and learning rather than increased selectivity, tuition and fees. We want to become an institution that students choose proudly with the intention of graduating from Dalton State. We want our alumni to be proud of being part of the Roadrunner Nation. I call this becoming a “first choice destination college” (as opposed to a last resort, default school, and/or stepping stone institution). In short, we want to be the best undergraduate institution we can be and ensure that our students are given every opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills they need to become the productive citizens they all strive to be. Through partnerships with sister institutions, I am hopeful we can bring targeted graduate programs to our campus.

We are also creating a Vision statement to accompany our Mission. The Vision is a forward-thinking assertion of who we want to become at some point in the near future. Knowing what we want to look like and become known for within the next three to five years will help us focus our energy on the actions that will help us achieve that status.

Alongside our Mission and Vision, we are listing our Core Values. These values inform our efforts as we undertake the work of serving our students. They include values such as “A Commitment to Service” and “Excellence in Teaching and Learning.”

Finally, we have identified four areas in which we want to focus during the next three years, with a goal for each of these four themes along with action steps needed to accomplish each of the goals. The committee is making a conscious effort to narrow the focus of this strategic plan to increase the probability of accomplishing our goals while ensuring that our goals and action steps are ambitious enough to move us closer to achieving our vision of the future Dalton State College. In other words, the strategic plan will be designed to help us prioritize our efforts and limited resources to ensure we take the College to that next level.

Everything the committee has produced is still in draft form. This is where we need your help. We need you to review our most recent draft of the Mission, Vision, Values, Goals and Action Steps and give us your feedback. Does the Mission accurately describe who we are and what we stand for? Does the Vision describe what you think we need to strive to become over the next three to five years? Do the Values Statements resonate? Do our Goals and Action Steps sound like a logical plan for how to achieve our Vision? What have we forgotten to include in the Mission, Vision, Values and/or the Goals?

There are two opportunities to engage in the review of the Strategic Planning Committee’s work. You may email

[email protected] and we will email a copy of the latest draft for your review. You may provide written comments through the same email address or you may attend a town hall meeting to hear the comments of your neighbors and share your thoughts. We will share the draft Mission, Vision, Values and Goals on Tuesday, March 29 at 7 p.m. in Room 112 of Peeples Hall on the Dalton State campus. We are seeking your comments at this meeting. Parking near Peeples Hall is accessible from George Rice Drive.

One of the things that struck me soon after arriving at Dalton State was how deeply this community cares about this institution. Many of you were involved in the establishment of the College. Many have attended and/or have sent children to Dalton Junior College, Dalton College or Dalton State College. Come visit for an evening and share in the plans for the future of this fine institution.