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Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan: Community by Design


  • Nurture entrepreneurial faculty and develop attractive academic programs
  • Design and articulate the McPherson College community
  • Plan and build facilities that nurture, welcome and sustain a growing community
  • Engage the McPherson College constituency to build a $1 billion endowment



Community by Design 2021

2021 Strategic Memo
2019 Strategic Memo
2018 Strategic Memo
2017 Strategic Memo
2018 Implementation Plan

17-18 Initiatives



The Review magazine cover

Learn more about McPherson College’s community-based strategic planning process in the winter 2017 issue of the Review.


Community by Design 2021

McPherson College is committed to its mission to “Develop whole persons through scholarship, participation and service.”

As our Statement of Mission affirms, “community is central” to McPherson College’s identity. Community by Design 2021 is the result of a planning-by-community-versus-committee process consistent with the core values and practices of the Church of the Brethren, the college’s founding denomination. The strategic goals have emerged from a year-long dialogue that repeatedly engaged all members of the campus community. The goals focus on growth achieved through innovative academic programs driven by entrepreneurial faculty and a community that embodies well-articulated values, supported by safe, adequate facilities and a well-funded endowment.

To ensure our place as one of America’s great small colleges, McPherson College must foster an academic community that attracts 1,500 full-time students who are serious about career-oriented liberal arts by 2040. Community by Design 2021 is focused on answering the big questions that bear upon the future growth of McPherson College.

Nurture entrepreneurial faculty and develop attractive academic programs

MC defines entrepreneurship as, “the creative process of developing sustainable, innovative ventures that solve problems and meet the needs of the greater community. Balancing opportunity and risk, the entrepreneur manages resources and constructs solutions that benefit both self and society.”

The future of liberal arts will combine general education and professional studies in a way that requires faculty who willingly cross disciplinary boundaries. Entrepreneurial faculty members are key to program quality and will be the foundation for growth.

  1. Create expectations and develop the time and resources for entrepreneurial faculty to support growth
    McPherson College needs faculty who embrace the faculty-approved definition of entrepreneurship.

Incremental Actions: Create process for clearly defining expectations—expectations that recognize the diversity of disciplines and faculty perspectives; explore existing models at other campuses; connect expectations with growth; study compensation structure and load; evaluate the balance of teaching, scholarship and other responsibilities associated with building strong academic programs; implement professional development opportunities consistent with expectations for faculty; align governance structure with expectations for faculty.

Assessment: Employee retention; KICA compensation; faculty recruiting; new program growth; student retention; program reviews.

Key Outcome: Integrated framework implemented and connected to program review process—create departmental structures to balance Teaching, Administration Tasks (Growth), Scholarship, and Development by 2018.

  1. Grow academic programs modeled after recent program successes in automotive restoration
    To achieve growth through attractive academic programs, the college needs a process for entrepreneurial faculty to access resources for program development and for the institution to allocate such resources. The following criteria, derived from the characteristics of our success stories, will guide program development and determine allocations:
    The program

    1. Is career focused
    2. Is connected to a unique approach, niche and/or trending market need
    3. Is liberal arts-centered with connections to strong general education
    4. Is interdisciplinary
    5. Builds key industry partnerships
    6. Leverages entrepreneurial mindset
    7. Includes plans for raising funds
    8. Identifies programming growth opportunities to attract students who have a “plan”
    9. Identifies opportunities with low investment and high visibility
    10. Incorporates global perspectives/opportunities
    11. Provides a unique capstone experience for students
    12. Engages faculty and students, meeting them where they want to go in their life and career
    13. Demonstrates departmental strategic planning connected to the Community by Design

Departments will design growth plans that work either on a small scale using a few criteria or on a larger scale using all criteria, perhaps resulting in new academic programs. Resources will be allocated based on the scope departments take advantage of the above criteria.

Incremental Actions: Refine criteria; define planning process; integrate resource allocation into budgeting process; admissions reassesses current programs and opportunities for growth; execute annual retention plans; align program review process with strategic plan.
Assessment: Enrollment; percentage of general students; retention; faculty/student ratio; diversity; ACT Score; graduation rate; departmental planning and review of programs; restricted fundraising; national, regional, local media attention.
Key Outcome: Comprehensive enrollment plans leading to 750 students with 75 percent fall-to-fall retention by 2021.

Design and articulate the McPherson College community

McPherson College desires a community culture that systematically communicates its values both internally and externally. Focus will be on our core values of service, liberal arts and career preparation. To achieve its goals, MC must intentionally engage the community of McPherson as part of the design. Emphasis will include addressing global issues as a community in and out of the classroom.

  1. Create a common experience around a global theme within the general education curriculum
    A shared intellectual experience provides opportunities for building relationships and community.

Incremental Actions: Evaluate and pick the common experience; integrate experience within curriculum.
Assessments: General education assessment; course evaluations.
Key Outcome: Explore models (2019); create new general education plan (2021); implement new general education plan by 2022.

  1. Create experiences that support career success and are connected with curriculum

Incremental Actions: Identify existing experiences, e.g., internships, field experiences, senior research, capstone experiences, service learning, domestic/international global experiences that exist; analyze missing opportunities for students; create key experiences within and across departments; connect experiences through the curriculum and existing infrastructure.
Assessments: Career placement; internship placement; global experiences.
Key Outcome: Refined structure that organizes and creates a system around all experiences and expectations by 2018.

  1. Redefine the tuition revenue model to ensure affordability and institutional revenue
    The college desires a pricing model that balances student and family cost with the institution’s need for sustainable revenue.

Incremental Actions: Identify key drivers for how students pay; identify important elements of student revenue for the institution; find sustainable models in higher education that are working.
Assessments: Price; student loan debt; net tuition revenue; funded discount rate.
Key Outcome: New tuition pricing model implemented by 2019.

  1. Develop an ongoing campus education program that communicates our values and engages the campus community in important challenges to executing plans

Incremental Actions: Articulate values; develop a systematic education program that communicates important challenges and progress; student working group; continue to integrate our big challenges with Kansas Leadership Center Adaptive Leadership Training.
Assessments: Student Satisfaction Survey; student engagement on strategic initiatives; faculty and staff retention; faculty and staff development participation; employee satisfaction.
Key Outcome: Education campaign implemented by 2017.

  1. Create a long-term vision for residential life
    The college seeks to create a community that values the residential experience and meets students’ desires for their living/learning environment.

Incremental Actions: Study, discuss, envision, decide and plan; engage the entire campus using national data on residential campuses; identify different models and frameworks for residential college communities; create a master plan that looks decades into the future using a phased approach; address technology usage, food, co-curriculars, and McPherson community; define individual responsibility.
Assessments: Percentage of full-time residential students; co-curricular participation; campus incidents; service learning; spiritual life
Key Outcome: Implement 20-year residential life plan by 2021.

Plan and build facilities that nurture, welcome and sustain a growing community

A college needs facilities to host a community that integrates living and learning. As the campus makes plans to attract more students to attend and graduate from McPherson College, physical space usage must evolve. These facilities must be safe, well planned, built for longevity, well maintained, and welcoming to guests. Plans should also be made to accommodate phased enrollment growth that balances year-to-year fluctuations in total students as well as number of students by field of study.

Incremental Actions: Develop a comprehensive capital projects plan; engage the community in prioritizing projects; create plan for low-cost beautification that addresses aesthetics; improve the campus entry with visibility from Kansas Ave., clear and easy entrance to campus, welcoming space, and planning for potential future space usage; evaluate space, given certain growth scenarios.
Assessments: Capital budget; maintenance budget; capital fundraising.
Key Outcome: Phase One for campus entry complete by 2017; comprehensive capital plan implemented by 2017.

Engage the McPherson College constituency to build a $1 billion endowment

McPherson College has a tradition of giving and currently has the largest endowment of any private institution in Kansas. The schools with $1 billion-plus endowments can enhance quality and ensure perpetual success. McPherson College currently has the constituency with capacity to give and over the next two decades should focus on efforts to:

  1. Create a plan to build a $1 billion endowment through extensive planned-giving efforts

Incremental Actions: Develop a systematic plan to approach donors; create a campaign and appropriate reports.
Assessment: Endowment total; endowment spending rate; endowment return; planned giving commitments.
Key Outcome: Launch a planned giving campaign by 2017.

  1. Engage young alumni and new friends in the tradition of “Bulldog Pride”

Incremental Actions: Revise development plans and coordinate with alumni office to focus on younger alumni and create a culture of giving among our graduates; focus on class giving; develop annual campaigns with specific goals to increase total alumni donors.
Assessment: Budget-relieving gifts; alumni giving percentage; total donors; online/social donor percentage; percentage legacy students.
Key Outcome: Launch Bulldog Pride by 2016.