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Futures Team leans forward

Recommissioned Strategic Planning Team takes on scenario preparation for a post-pandemic University.

August 10, 2020

No one can predict the future. But the Futures Team is working on it.

MSU Denver signIt’s the Strategic Planning Team doing this essential, forward-looking work. The group was recommissioned in April to examine post-pandemic scenarios for Metropolitan State University of Denver and higher education overall. That meant pausing its work on Strategic Plan 2025, which will start up again this fall.

“With all the great minds on the team, President (Janine) Davidson asked us to shift our focus and not let a crisis go to waste,” said Cathy Lucas, vice president of Strategy and External Affairs and co-chair of the group. “Three interrelated crises – the global pandemic, the financial crisis and what may be the largest social-justice movement in history – are providing a historic leadership opportunity for society and higher education. We are now looking at bold strategic responses that are not only needed to survive but newly possible to allow us to thrive.”

At the beginning of the summer, the Futures Team broke into groups to research and discuss ideas from the lens of particular stakeholders: faculty/staff, students, parents, competitors, government and business partners. Another subgroup focused on future scenarios. The groups then reported back to the full team.

Some of the broader trends that emerged from that work included:

  • Flattening or decreasing student enrollments
  • Increased competition
  • Decreased funding
  • Cost-cutting opportunities
  • Expanding online education
  • Racial justice, healing and dialogue

The next step will be to look at these themes in greater depth as part of a Game It Out exercise scheduled for mid-August. The half-day exercise will be facilitated by Dan Baer, former executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Baer also serves on the University’s Community Cabinet and recently penned an article titled “Can Higher Ed Survive the Pandemic?” 

Christian Hardigree, dean of the School of Hospitality, who is serving as co-chair of the team for the summer, expressed her optimism about the group’s work.

“I’m excited for what this team is going to accomplish,” she said. “There are a diversity of perspectives and experiences from across the University, which has led to some great conversation and ideas.”

Hardigree stepped in for original team co-lead Matt Makley, professor and chair of history, who is still serving on the task force and will return as co-chair when Strategic Planning work resumes this fall.

The team’s goal is to provide the president with recommendations for how MSU Denver can adapt to a changed environment Aug. 31.

Topics: Academics, Funding, Strategic Planning

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