K-State 2025 is alive and one-of-a-kind

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K-State 2025 is a university-wide strategic plan with the goal being to make K-State a top 50 public research university by the year 2025.

“The visionary goal is ambitious,” Lynn Carlin, special assistant to the provost, said. “You could never achieve something like this in the short term.”

K-State 2025 originated when Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz was interviewing to be university president in 2009. The plan was implemented in 2010. Provost April Mason said she also recognized the need for a strategic plan.

“When you say strategic planning on a university campus, eyes roll,” Mason said. “This is the first time I have done this where I keep coming back and holding ourselves accountable. We keep revisiting it. We keep talking about it. It is the first time that I’ve been involved in a strategic plan that truly is used and is something we continue to value.”

Carlin said K-State 2025 is in action, making it different than strategic plans at comparable universities.

“We have a plan that isn’t sitting on the shelf, and that planning process has gone all the way through the university,” Carlin said. “If the departments and colleges are successful, then the university is successful. So we’ve created a very aligned, strategic, integrated planning process, I’m not aware of any other university that has done that. That’s what makes it different.”

K-State 2025 is built around seven themes: research, scholarly and creative discovery; undergraduate educational experience; graduate scholarly experience; engagement, extension, outreach and service; faculty and staff; facilities and infrastructure; and athletics.

“There were focus groups to respond to the vision and the opportunity, and out of those focus groups, President Schulz and the cabinets and the governance council, faculty senate, identified seven themes and eight common elements,” Carlin said. “Then we put them out for campus comment, and there was quite a bit of comment, and then we arrived at the seven themes.”

The eight common elements of K-State 2025 are diversity, international, sustainability, communications and marketing, external constituents, culture, funding and technology.

“The goals we have are really important goals, that undergraduate educational experience is just the best that it can be,” Mason said. “It is our goal that there are opportunities for service learning, study abroad, internships and that students aren’t only engaged in the classroom, laboratory or studio, but also in extramural activities, whether that is a club or a sport or whatever. It really focuses on all aspects of the student experience.”

Mason said that K-State 2025 is more successful than plans she has been apart of in the past due to the leadership and commitment of Schulz and others.

“The most challenging aspect to me is convincing people that we don’t need a huge influx of money to make it happen,” Mason said. “There are certain things that require resources. The dollars, people, places, time and space, but there are other aspects that don’t. As our budgets are tightened, doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to make progress on K-State 2025.”

Mason said another challenge has been to convincing people that using the term public research university doesn’t mean K-State only values research.

“We are a public research university and we have to hold ourselves accountable to that,” Mason said. “But we also are a university with strong undergraduate programs and we need to hold ourselves accountable to that.”

Breeze Richardson, director of communications for the Kansas Board of Regents, said K-State 2025 also fits in with the Regents’ Foresight 2020 plan.

“Foresight 2020 is for the system of universities and community colleges, so it’s wording is pretty broad,” Mason said. “K-State 2025 is for Kansas State University, a four-year university with graduate degrees and research. That’s not the same as Cloud County Community College. Our plan is different, but it aligns very well with 2020.”

Mason said she is more concerned with improvement and progress than cracking the top 50.

“What number we get to, I’m less interested it,” Mason said. “I’m more interested in ‘Are we better? Are we better at the things we do and how we do them?’ I’m very convinced that we are on a very strong positive trajectory for that.”

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