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Master Academic Plan

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Master Academic Plan


  1. History of Bemidji State University
  2. Vision Statement and Mission Statement
  3. Assessment at Bemidji State University
  4. Strategic Planning at Bemidji State University
  5. Promise and Signature Themes
  6. Evaluation of Opportunities and Challenges
  7. Department Guideline

Appendix A. History of Bemidji State University

In 1919, Bemidji State Normal School began its first regular school year with 38 students. The school was . chartered by the Minnesota State Legislature in response to a growing need for public school teachers, and teacher training was its primary curriculum. Now Bemidji State hosts nearly 5,000 undergraduate and . graduate students from 44 states and 40 countries and offers majors in over 50 baccalaureate fields of study as well as master of arts and master of science degrees.

While the name and curriculum of the school have changed through the years, the primary focus has not: . Bemidji State University serves the people of its region. From its inception, Bemidji State's first responsibility has been to provide quality educational opportunities to the citizens of northern Minnesota. Still, over the decades Bemidji State University has attracted more and more students from throughout the state, the region, the . country, and other nations. Welcoming the challenge of global education, the University encourages . international students to study and live at Bemidji State, and provides student opportunities to study and live abroad. Expansion of its on-line course offerings has also enabled Bemidji State to serve more students . living outside the area.

Bemidji State University is affiliated with the Higher Learning Commission, completing its last comprehensive visit in 1999-2000. All degree programs at Bemidji State are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Programmatic accreditations include the Council on Social Work Education, the National Association of Schools of Music, the American Chemical Society, and the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education.


Appendix B. Vision Statement and Mission Statement

Vision Statement

Looking to the future, Bemidji State University is guided by the compass of educational leadership. Grounded in the wisdom of historical perspective, assured in our achievements as a regional University, we move forward with confidence toward new worlds of thought, opportunity, and time. Equipped with optimism and intellectual curiosity, we join our students on a common quest. Our path is widened by respect for diverse opinions; is smoothed by shared human values; is quickened by openness to innovation. Along the way our guideposts are clear: excellence in liberal education and career preparation; a faculty, administration, and staff devoted to student success; community empowered by technology; and a campus learning environment dedicated to personal responsibility, global thinking, and education for life.


Mission Statement

Bemidji State University, since its founding in 1919, has been a center of intellectual, cultural, social, and economic life in northern Minnesota. Beginning as a small teacher's college, Bemidji State has grown into a comprehensive university, part of a diverse, statewide system of higher education.

As its primary strength and function, Bemidji State University delivers, at the baccalaureate and graduate levels, substantial and affordable educational opportunities that enhance student access to leadership roles and encourage responsible citizenship. Thus poised to lead its students into the twenty-first century, the University further recognizes that sweeping changes in society and technology call for new ideas and new skills, yet ones ever more grounded in shared human values.

In order to fulfill its mission and its responsibilities as a public university, Bemidji State University will:

  1. Promote an uncompromising pursuit of knowledge, excellence, civic responsibility, and environmental respect.
  2. Focus on student success by offering high quality baccalaureate and graduate programs designed to build analytical skills and critical thinking abilities; by developing responsible educational goals and career planning through a heightened commitment to faculty advising; and by instilling in students the habits of scholarship and life-long learning.
  3. Offer a pleasing and safe campus community enriched by native heritage and world cultures; united by human values centered on civility and mutual respect; and underpinned by facilities necessary for education in the twenty-first century.
  4. Develop a high-quality, diverse faculty and staff engaged in on-going professional achievement and revitalization, and in innovative partnerships with education, business, and industry.
  5. Incorporate new technologies by exploring, developing, and adapting to a human scale the capacities that give the University's students, faculty, and staff access to the world, and give the world access to the University.
  6. Encourage a varied educational experience beyond the classroom through community service, internships, and travel, while providing a campus life rich in unique opportunities for developing a heightened knowledge of the self, others, and the world.
  7. Ensure that each student who graduates can communicate effectively in writing and speaking, can distinguish knowledge from information, and is prepared to take her or his position as a responsible and productive member of the human family in a global society.
  8. Develop increased support among external constituencies, for purposes of a deepened institutional stability and heightened flow of ideas.

College Mission Statements

In addition, each of the three colleges has a published mission statement which connects the mission of the college to that of the university.

College of Arts and Letters: Mission Statement
The College of Arts and Letters prepares students to encounter questions, search for answers, and develop a vision that transcends limited perspectives, to fashion a view of life that is spiritually creative and intellectually defensible in this closely linked and highly pluralistic world.

College of Social and Natural Sciences: Mission Statement
The College of Social and Natural Sciences prepares students for scientific inquiry, career opportunities, responsible citizenship, and life-long learning.

College of Professional Studies: Mission Statement
The College of Professional Studies develops leaders for an evolving world.


Appendix C. Assessment at Bemidji State University

As part of Bemidji State University's commitment to institutional quality and accountability, all academic and service programs engage in an ongoing process of assessment and renewal. Assessment involves collecting information about academic proficiency, knowledge, and understanding acquired through the Liberal Education curriculum, degree-granting programs, student participation in University activities, and student attitudes and opinions about their educational experiences. This information is then used for continuous quality improvement.

To clarify what constitutes student success, Bemidji State University has developed three dimensions of student learning with eight related student learning outcomes that students are expected to attain by graduation. These are:

Dimension 1: Intellectual Development

  • Higher Order Thinking
  • Knowledge, Values, and Abilities Related to the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, . and Specialized Fields of Study

Dimension 2: Understanding of Self and Relating to Others

  • Values
  • Communication
  • Human Diversity
  • Self Development

Dimension 3: Participation in an Emerging Global Society

  • Readiness for Careers
  • Responsible Citizenship

Assessment occurs in departments and University-wide informally and formally as scheduled in the University calendar. All students are required to participate in assessment activities on multiple occasions during their enrollment.


Appendix D. Strategic Planning at Bemidji State University

As one outcome from the last accreditation visit by the Higher Learning Commission, Bemidji State undertook . a strategic planning process resulting in the adoption of a new five-year goal statement and accompanying strategic plan, University Plan: 2002-2007.

Five-year Goal Statement:
Bemidji State University's goal is to be the Midwest's premier student-centered university integrating liberal arts with career development to prepare students for life-long learning and leadership in a global society.

University Plan: 2002-2007:
The University Plan sets forth four major strategies:

  1. Resource maintenance, expansion, and diversification
  2. Programming and service excellence
  3. Alignment of resources with priorities
  4. Enhancement of institutional processes and decision-making

These strategies address the University's critical external and internal concerns including the Chancellor's plan and move the University forward to attain its five-year goal statement, mission, and vision.

Over the course of the next year, the Work Plan was completed and serves as a management tool translating the broad objectives of the University Plan into specific actions. Together, the University Plan and the corresponding annual Work Plans lay out the University's strategic initiatives and corresponding timetables for the five year time period.


Appendix E. Promise and Signature Themes

One of the first strategic initiatives identified in the University Plan was the development of a conceptual framework for reviewing current and prioritizing future initiatives within the University. During the 2003-2004 year, Bemidji State University's President held campus conversations addressing Jim Collins' (2001) work, Good to Great, and suggested using Collins' work as a model for focusing the University's interests and passions. Through an 18-month process culminating in the Fall of 2004, numerous forums and meetings were held with internal and external constituencies to help identify the passions and strengths of the University. From those conversations, the following statement (adoption pending) emerged as Bemidji State's promise to all students:

"transforming lives through intentional learning and responsible living."

In addition, three core values emerged for which Bemidji State has recognized, distinctive strengths, including:

Global/multicultural understanding
Civic engagement
Environmental stewardship.

These values are reflected in the current Bemidji State mission statement, particularly in the following: . (emphases added)

In order to fulfill its mission and its responsibilities as a public university, Bemidji State University will:

  1. Promote an uncompromising pursuit of knowledge, excellence, civic responsibility, and environmental respect.
  2. Offer a pleasing and safe campus community enriched by native heritage and world cultures; united by human values centered on civility and mutual respect; and underpinned by facilities necessary for education in the twenty-first century.
  3. Encourage a varied educational experience beyond the classroom through community service, internships, and travel, while providing a campus life rich in unique opportunities for developing a heightened knowledge of the self, others, and the world.

As such, Bemidji State is committed to these values and has included them in the University's assessment plan. As a result of the efforts to increase Bemidji State's distinctiveness, these values are being further developed into Signature Themes across campus and across organizational units. One desired outcome of the Master Academic Plan is to support the current work of individuals and programs, as well as to help strengthen the curriculum, along these themes. Similar coordination will be taking place within Student Affairs and Administrative Affairs.


Appendix F. Evaluation of Opportunities and Challenges

Bemidji State University operates within the social, economic, technological, and political environment that can be both supportive and challenging. During the strategic planning process of 2002, Bemidji State undertook an evaluation of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The following summary reflects a current analysis of these influences.

External Environment

Consideration of realities, trends, and predictions external to our organization includes the following:

  • Demographic trends in Minnesota predict population growth within urban areas and decline within rural areas.
  • Demographic trends in northern Minnesota predict population growth in retirement age population and decline in high school age population.
  • Demographic trends in Minnesota indicate increased diversity with new Minnesotans.
  • Competition for students by private, for-profit, online, and two-year educational providers is increasing.
  • Our service region extends over 17,600 square miles.
  • Bemidji State is located in a region relatively isolated from other cultural and economic centers of activity.
  • Bemidji State is located in the middle of three American Indian reservations and needs to consider its purpose as a member of this region.
  • The socioeconomic base of Northern Minnesota is low relative to that of the State.
  • The number of bachelor-degreed employment opportunities in the region is limited.
  • Large number of working adults need further education and in a number of formats including on-line.
  • Financial and political support for public higher education in Minnesota has declined over the past decade.
  • Funding formula from MnSCU has become primarily enrollment-driven.
  • Environmental challenges continue to emerge as issues locally and globally.
  • Rapid changes in technology continue to influence society, in general, and higher education, in . particular.
  • Area high schools have indicated a preference for concurrent enrollment over PSEO.
  • Governor of Minnesota has identified six disciplines as possible "Centers for Excellence": manufacturing technology, science/engineering, health sciences, education, business, information technology.
  • Measures of accountability, such as graduation rates and retention rates, are increasingly being used by external constituencies to evaluate institutional effectiveness.

Strengths Relative to the External Environment
Bemidji State University benefits from its unique connection with its environment:

  • A growing retirement-aged population may provide opportunities for new programming and a possible donor base.
  • Bemidji State currently supports the senior population through its work with the Academy of Lifelong Learning.
  • Bemidji State is unique among other Minnesota higher education institutions in its commitment to . environmental stewardship.
  • Bemidji State's response to the large, rural service region includes development of online offerings, . improved funding of distance education, and increased articulation with two-year colleges.
  • Bemidji State's commitment to the recruitment, retention, and graduation of American Indian students is coordinated through the AIRC and strengthened by cooperative agreements with tribal colleges.
  • Bemidji State's demonstrated commitment to technology upgrades includes the laptop replacement . program and investment in smart classrooms.
  • Bemidji State's international student program and international study opportunities help broaden our exposure to the world.
  • Bemidji State is recognized as a community partner and can further support the community and region through its civic engagement efforts.
  • New programs and accompanying curriculum are being developed in partnership business and industry, government agencies, community organizations, and other educational institutions to address the . economic and life enhancement needs of the region.
  • Bemidji State is a leader in providing technology-enhanced learning opportunities for our students.
  • Bemidji State is well-positioned to participate in one or more "Centers of Excellence."

Challenges Relative to the External Environment
Bemidji State University must identify ways to address the following external threats:

  • Bemidji State's enrollments are unstable or declining.
  • Because the MnSCU funding formula relies heavily on enrollments, unstable or declining enrollments lead to reduced allocations.
  • Bemidji State needs to increase private sector support.
  • Lack of coordinated marketing within the University hinders our ability to communicate a distinctive identity.
  • Relative geographic isolation may limit attractiveness to a national pool of faculty, staff, and students.
  • Bemidji State programming needs to increase support for ethnic and cultural diversity.
  • Bemidji State provides Post Secondary Enrollment Options, but is not involved with concurrent . enrollment.
  • Bemidji State's current degree offerings may not match employment options in the region
  • Bemidji State's graduation and retention rates do not reflect positively on Bemidji State.

Internal Environment

Several realities, trends, and predictions internal to our organization include the following:

  • The strength of academic programs is directly correlated to the strengths within the faculty and staff. Continued professional development is essential to maintain and further develop excellence in . programming and services.
  • Financial resources are limited.
  • Bemidji State's retention rates and graduation rates are below system average.
  • Bemidji State's human and physical infrastructure can support more students than are currently enrolled.
  • Analysis of Bemidji State's current faculty profile predicts a significant turnover through retirements within the decade.
  • Bemidji State's organizational structure is fairly rigid and requires significant lead-time prior to making and implementing decisions.
  • To attract and retain students, Bemidji State needs to identify and provide the high-quality, educational opportunities that students are seeking.
  • To attract and retain students, Bemidji State needs to identify and provide the high-quality services that students are seeking.
  • To continue to attract and retain excellent faculty and staff, Bemidji State needs to provide competitive compensation packages.
  • To continue to build our academic reputation, Bemidji State must continue its commitment to enhancing student learning outcomes.
  • The current faculty, staff and student profiles do not reflect adequate diversity.

Internal Strengths
Bemidji State University has built on the following strengths:

  • Bemidji State has a faculty and staff that are highly committed to student learning.
  • The Liberal Education program at Bemidji State offers opportunities for students to explore life . possibilities and to prepare "for life-long learning and leadership in a global society."
  • The Bemidji State faculty are committed to review of all curriculum, most recently having committed to a full evaluation of the current liberal education program.
  • Student learning outcomes are strengthened through interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and . learning, support for student research, and experiential approaches to learning.
  • One unique way in which Bemidji State supports faculty development is through its support for the Center for Professional Development.
  • Programming from the Center for Extended Learning supports faculty development in the area of online learning.
  • Bemidji State is known among students, their families, other educators and at other institutions as a student-friendly place.
  • Students at Bemidji State enjoy the lowest student/faculty ratio of the Minnesota state universities.
  • Bemidji State is well known for its compelling natural setting on the shores of Lake Bemidji.
  • The University takes seriously its role in the stewardship of the land and recognizes that the physical . environment of a campus contributes to its learning environment.
  • Bemidji State's commitment to American Indian students is strengthened by programming through the AIRC.
  • Bemidji State's commitment to multiculturalism includes study-abroad opportunities and recruitment of international students to our campus and community.

Internal Opportunities for Improvement
Bemidji State University must continue to address the following challenges:

  • Bemidji State's organizational structure and culture contribute to slow responses to external changes.
  • Prioritizing financial investments to facilitate change and growth is more difficult when resources are limited.
  • Bemidji State cannot afford to make decisions that ignore the financial implications.
  • Bemidji State must anticipate retirements to plan for both program development and new program . initiatives.
  • The formal planning process at Bemidji State has been undergoing significant review and may require redesign.
  • Processes to tie together dollars, faculty, and program planning need to be strengthened.
  • Evaluation of student educational programming and service interests must be strengthened.
  • Student graduation rates and retention rates can be strengthened.
  • Financial analysis has shown Bemidji State faculty compensation to be the lowest in the state university system.
  • NCHEMS study revealed inadequate staffing levels within senior management.
  • Current organizational structure has split student affairs reporting lines, which may impede efforts to enhance quality of services.
  • Internal challenges to addressing demand for distance learning include faculty work loads and adequate technical support for students.
  • Bemidji State support for faculty scholarship and sponsored research should be enhanced.
  • Bemidji State needs to strengthen its commitment to multicultural understanding and issues of diversity.


Appendix G. Department Guideline

The Department Guideline is a tool to help departments in the creation of their Five-Year Department Plans. The purpose of the Department Guideline is to assist Departments in the creation of Department Plans that will meet the needs of the BSU Strategic Plan, the BSU Master Academic Plan, BSU . Assessment Plan, and components of the Program Review.

The Department Guideline includes sections typically covered by BSU . departments in past Department Plans. In addition, the Guideline has been "cross-walked" to the Master Academic Plan. All sections of the MAP intended to guide or support Department Plans have been included.

For further information:
Office of Academic Affairs
313 Deputy Hall #3
Bemidji State University
1500 Birchmont Drive NE
Bemidji, MN 56601-2699

This document is available in PDF

December 2005