Kent State President Beverly Warren Shares Strategic Vision With Board
Kent State University President Beverly Warren began her second year in office by acknowledging that she is at the helm of the university at a time when the university is on an impressive upward trajectory. In this context, Warren is intent on leading Kent State with a well-defined and bold vision – one that will distinguish the university not only in Northeast Ohio but across the world.
At the Sept. 9 Kent State Board of Trustees meeting, Warren reviewed for the trustees the momentum that has made Kent State a powerhouse and model of higher educational excellence, access and affordability. She cautioned, however, that the 21st century brings substantial changes to the higher education landscape, from the impact of U.S. demographic shifts to advances in science, technology and changing societal norms.
Warren summarized for the Board the significant community dialogues, research focus groups and survey assessments, inclusive of almost 10,000 responses regarding a shared vision for the university. This discovery journey led to a shared institutional recognition that the time has come for Kent State to move boldly as a distinctive and distinguished national public research university.
Warren revealed the work of the Strategic Visioning Advisory Committee. This group of faculty, staff and students has the charge to guide the university community to develop a vision statement, articulate the university’s core values and define the aspirational strategic priorities for the next five years. Warren’s presentation of the shared vision statement and a strategic roadmap to a bright future was met with strong support as the Board endorsed Kent State’s new vision statement:
“To be a community of change agents whose collective commitment to learning sparks epic thinking, meaningful voice, and invaluable outcomes to better our society.”
Warren also shared with the Board evolving thoughts from the community about the university’s core values and potential aspirational priorities, which have been discussed by university leaders in this continuing process. Current drafts of core values and priorities, as well as an outline of the visioning process and mechanisms for community feedback may be found at www.kent.edu/strategicvisioning.
Warren unveiled the proposed five university priorities that were shaped through multiple discussions with the university community:
Students First: Provide an inclusive and engaged living/learning environment where students thrive and graduate as informed citizens and productive leaders
A Nationally Distinctive and Distinguished Kent State: Drive innovation, idea generation and national distinction through top-tier academic and research programs and the recruitment and development of talented faculty and staff
Globally Competitive: Advance Kent State’s contributions as an international university that prioritizes the cultural competency of students, faculty and staff
Regional Impact: Serve as an innovative engine for the region and state through partnerships and programs that contribute to the quality of life for Ohioans
Excellence in Stewardship: Ensure future growth and vitality through the strategic management of fiscal resources and infrastructure
In addition to the endorsed bold vision for Kent State’s future and aggressive priorities, Warren presented the Board with a business intelligence dashboard. The dashboard Warren shared with trustees contained key metrics and performance indicators she, her leadership team and the Board will use to measure outcomes and to ensure accountability of the organization to the public and its many stakeholders.
Her presentation went even further by naming those public universities that Kent State considers peers and thus institutions that Kent State believes it is most like today. Warren further unveiled aspirational public universities that will assist in the process of strategy execution. The key performance areas that Warren says Kent State will regularly monitor and report publicly include student graduation and retention rates, research expenditures, endowment size, student diversity and Board of Regents financial accountability scores, to name a few. Her presentation gave more than a nod to Kent State’s intentions to move from being an excellent regional university to becoming a nationally ranked public institution. There is only one university in Ohio, and none in Northeast Ohio among the peer or aspiration groups.
Warren ended her presentation by turning the meeting over to the consulting firm 160over90. The consultants have served in a critical role to Kent State for more than six months by conducting an environmental assessment and facilitating the dialogue and analysis carried out by the Strategic Visioning Advisory Committee. In introducing 160over90, Warren acknowledged that a bold vision means doing more of the great work that Kent State already does well but also doing new things in new ways. She said the smartest institutions do not take on a bold vision without the right partners. Based on the experience of collaborating with 160over90 for six months, she said there is an organizational confidence that they know the Kent State culture and have a deep appreciation for institutional aspirations.
160over90 was the successful responder to a competitive national search for an agency of record to partner with the university on integrated communications, strategic marketing and media planning across the eight-campus system. 160over90 will be the first agency in university history to partner and serve Kent State’s 11 colleges and eight campuses. 160over90 presented a concept for an integrated communications platform that reflects the new bold vision and articulates the distinctiveness of Kent State’s culture. The Board approved a three-year, $2.332 million contract for 1690ver90 to be the Kent State agency of record for the institution’s integrated platform across the eight campus system.
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