A Strategic Plan for Higher Education in a Private, Catholic University

Benedictine University is a Catholic university following the Benedictine traditions. Located in suburban Chicago, it provides undergrad, graduate and adult/non-traditional education to approximately six thousand students.

As with most higher educational institutions across the United States, Benedictine is facing decreased state and federal funding, challenges in recruitment and retention, and the need to fund and operate the university primarily from enrollment income. This comes at a time when overall enrollment is down in the U.S., students are increasingly seeking much more job-related educational outcomes, and many are working full- or part-time.

Benedictine retained SMI to coordinate and facilitate an 8-month strategic planning process with a cross-university team comprised of college deans, all divisional vice presidents, and the new university president.

Through the analysis of external and internal inputs, development of strategic themes, the articulation of a strategic change agenda, the creation of a university strategy map, articulation of strategic performance measures, and the outline of a strategic initiative portfolio, the cross-organization team created a new strategy entitled, ‘BenU 2020.’

The group was then brought together for its first ever strategic review meeting, supported by a new strategy management function.

The immediate result was the successful development and launch of a completely new strategy with complete cross-organizational buy-in in less that 10 months.

Universities are incredibly complex organizational entities, and strategy requires the complete and dedicated involvement of all parties. Much of the benefit is derived from the lowering of organizational silos and increasing teamwork – which is so necessary to execute strategy in higher education.

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