The Transformative Power of Planning

The President’s Column

Portrait of President Jo Allen As we draft the next iteration of the College’s strategic plan, the fourth since 2011, I am reminded of the adage, credited to leaders including Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower:

“Plans are useless, but the process of planning is invaluable.”

At Meredith, both our plans and our processes have proven quite useful as they have helped us collaborate to set priorities, establish authority and accountability for pursuing those priorities, and identify the amounts and sources of funding needed. Through our strategic plans, which have lent great focus to our work and our processes that have engaged the community, we have accomplished much: 

  • established new programs that drive enrollment and retention
  • built or renovated buildings and infrastructure
  • surpassed a $75 million campaign goal with over $90 million along with continuing support for the College
  • advanced our distinctive brand and image
  • solidified our commitment to our students’ and employees’ health and well-being, compensation, and professional development and recognition.

At each turn, we have revised the process and timing of planning at Meredith, and that flexibility has served us well. 

For one thing, people more readily buy into processes in which they have a greater voice for setting priorities and accepting authority and responsibility for progress. Second, we are less likely to suffer from planning fatigue because we can readily keep our accomplishments in mind as we design next steps for the College. And third, any ideas not written into a current version of the plan will be revisited in the next iteration of the plan to ensure good ideas are not lost. In short, success breeds success.

In our current planning process, we are offering more pronounced opportunities for learning and listening sessions, with each pillar of the plan (educational excellence, enrollment, facilities and IT, financial strength, marketing and visibility, and quality of life) featured in a dedicated summit. Each summit opens with foundational information about the pillar/topic, providing data and procedural pathways for how we conduct the “business” of the pillar as well as our prior achievements and ongoing challenges.

Unlike planning in corporate America (or global enterprises), politics, or the military, planning in higher education is best undertaken and characterized by grassroots insights and recommendations, rather than top-down pronouncements, but similarly set within the context of good research and data. Having a community willing to participate in our planning process through suggestions and encouragement and, yes, funding means we are collectively protecting and extending the reputation of Meredith College. And that is what makes us strong[er].

President Jo Allen, ’80

The Strategic Plan for the Future of Meredith College

Meredith’s strategic plan builds on the strengths of the College and sets the stage for a strong and vibrant future.

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Ensure educational excellence through curricular and co-curricular pathways that lead to student success

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Cultivate optimal enrollment and retention of highly-qualified students

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Provide the facilities and technology needed to support the College’s projected growth

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Strengthen the College’s long-term financial stability

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Enhance the visibility and profile of Meredith College

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Enrich quality of life for Meredith faculty, staff, and students