President Faith C. Hensrud unveiled a strategic plan to guide Bemidji State University for the next five years during a Jan. 3 presentation to faculty, staff and administrators.
|2018-2023 Strategic Plan|
The five-year plan, announced in 2016 and in development for nearly a year, includes five institutional priorities that will help ensure that BSU’s continued development aligns with and advances system-wide priorities of student success; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and financial sustainability.
Implementation of the plan began on Monday, Jan. 1, and will continue through the 2022-23 academic year. The plan includes a specific list of activities which will be tackled during its first year.
“I was a bit surprised in December when we ended up with 22 activities to begin within these first three semesters,” Hensrud said. “I even challenged the committee that we may be taking on too much given our other workload. But it makes sense that we need to begin our efforts on many fronts if we want to achieve the plan’s goals over the next five years.”
Hensrud presented the plan’s five priority areas and reviewed the goals supporting each of those priorities. She said that while the priority areas are necessarily intertwined, each stands on its own and none is considered to be more important than the others. The priorities also support Minnesota State’s system-wide priorities of student success; diversity, equity and inclusion; and financial stability.
The five priority areas are:
- Build university capacity through distinguishing themes of place.
- Increase engagement with American Indian communities to become a destination university.
- Increase student engagement in campus life.
- Strengthen BSU’s academic identity by infusing its Shared Fundamental Values into all academic programs
- Create a university culture in which diversity is embraced and all people are safe, welcome and validated.
She said the five priorities are focused on three major objectives:
- student success and growing enrollment through appreciation of the university’s values and geographic distinctions, including a commitment to the region’s American Indian communities;
- engagement in transformative teaching and learning, which will be informed by the university’s values and distinctive qualities; and
- improved representation of the complex ethnic and social diversity of Minnesota and the Bemidji region among both students and employees.
“This is not a plan that will sit on a shelf,” Hensrud said. “It will be reviewed regularly for progress and adjusted should external factors require us to make changes.”
Priority 1: Build university capacity through distinguishing themes of place
Hensrud said the themes in Priority 1 come from a broad definition of place that encompasses Bemidji State’s unique lakeshore location, its connection with the region’s American Indian peoples and the university’s culture of caring for the university community and its individual members.
She said Priority 1’s goals are meant to emphasize the value of the university’s location.
“These assets should be incorporated into academic programs and curricula, conveyed through branding and marketing, woven into the experience of students and employees and emphasized in the university’s engagement with surrounding communities,” she said.
Priority 2: Increase engagement with American Indian communities to become a destination university
The plan’s Priority 2 seeks to increase the number of American Indian students enrolled at the university through targeted recruitment and retention strategies. It aims to double experiential learning opportunities for all BSU students by expanding outreach to the region’s American Indian reservations and other American Indian communities.
Hensrud said the plan calls for BSU to increase the number of American Indian students enrolled at the university to 350.
Priority 3: Increase student engagement in campus life
BSU wants to see increased student attendance at university events, along with increased participation in organizational leadership activities, as the plan’s third priority.
“We also will seek to expand student-faculty engagement outside the classroom and improve the quality of all employee-student interactions,” Hensrud said.
Priority 4: Strengthen BSU’s academic identity by infusing its Shared Fundamental Values into all academic programs
Priority 4 will ensure BSU’s Shared Fundamental Values of civic engagement, multicultural understanding, commitment to the liberal arts, and environmental stewardship are addressed by the university’s Master Academic Plan and included in the learning of all students, regardless of major.
“A key activity supporting this priority is the establishment of a committee to provide input and direction on the Master Academic Planning process — and implementation of that plan,” Hensrud said. “This will provide a framework for achieving our goal of infusing our values into all academic programs by the fall of 2022.”
Priority 5: Create a university culture in which diversity is embraced and all people are safe, welcome and validated.
Priority 5 calls for the university to employ targeted recruitment and retention strategies to attain total enrollment of 300 international students and 700 students of color, while increasing the number of employees of color by 15.
“Priority 5 is extremely overarching, but its two goals are very specific,” Hensrud said.
A detailed view of each priority and goal in BSU’s Strategic plan 2018-2023, including goal areas for each priority and a detailed list of Year 1 activities to be undertaken immediately, is included in the complete plan available on BSU’s website.
Strategic Planning Timeline
Hensrud announced her intention to begin a strategic planning initiative during her Oct. 14, 2016, inauguration as the university’s 11th president. Work on the plan began in Feb. 2017 with a series of six listening sessions with stakeholders in subject areas of significance and relevance to the university and the northern Minnesota region. A six-person Strategic Planning Steering Committee was also formed in Feb. 2017, and it began compiling data from a variety of sources the next month. Town Hall-style meetings with the BSU campus community were held in April, both in person and online. The committee reviewed theme statements from those meetings to guide its work to develop priority areas with measurable goals and activities during the summer of 2017. A draft plan was presented to the campus on Oct. 12, and the committee considered nearly 300 comments submitted on the draft when developing the final plan in November and December.
Bemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,100 students, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. The university’s Shared Fundamental Values include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and international and multicultural understanding.