Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Strategic Planning: An Introduction


The basis for Chadron State 2020 extends from the Nebraska State Legislature’s charge to Chadron State College as delineated in State of Nebraska Statute 85-951: “[The College’s] first instructional priority shall be the provision of baccalaureate general academic, baccalaureate occupational, and baccalaureate professional degree programs in education. The…second instructional priority shall be master’s programs in education and other areas authorized by the State Legislature. The…third priority shall be the continuation and development of applied research and public service activities.”

Chadron State 2020 continues, as did Vision 2011 and the 2011-2014 Strategic Plan, to advance the historical tradition of purpose, place, and people. Chadron State 2020 is a departure from the two previous strategic plans in the number of priorities or initiatives as well as the focus on fundamental core priorities that have the potential to strengthen CSC in a highly uncertain higher education environment.

Vision 2011 encompassed 34 priorities in the traditional model of higher education strategic planning. The 2008-2009 Great Recession along with the changing higher education environment, led to what often is referred to as the “new normal.” The 20 Intentional Initiatives of the 2011-14 Strategic Plan was an effort to re-imagine education at CSC as the following key drivers were altering, if not disrupting, higher education: Rapidly developing technology, rising expectations, and declining revenue. Key facets were internal functional reorganization and engage in budget neutral actions. While the key drivers of higher education continue to intensify, quality of aligned learning experiences within the academic and non-academic areas has also come to the forefront. Chadron State 2020 embodies alignment of efforts and resources, improvement in quality, and differentiation of CSC.

Chadron State 2020 is comprised of three complementary and interconnected plans:

  • The Master Academic Plan, the centerpiece of Chadron State 2020
  • The Campus Facilities Master Plan (2012)
  • The Comprehensive Campaign

Chadron State 2020 also advances selected 2011-14 Intentional Initiatives under the guidance of four important signature themes:

  • Connections
  • Learner-Centered Environment
  • Strategic Growth and Retention
  • Evidence-Based Improvement

The Signature Themes are linked to CSC’s Mission Statement which promises to “enrich the quality of life in the region by providing educational opportunities, research, service, and programs that contribute significantly to the vitality and diversity of the region.”

The MAP was developed in advance of Chadron State 2020 to act as the centerpiece for alignment of campus-wide efforts. The MAP furnished an avenue to self-reflect through a community of learners and learn through the implementation process to enhance the quality of the CSC learning environment, the alignment of resources within academic affairs, and the nature of the alignment of non-academic resources with academic pursuits. The College community embraced six priorities to address the most pressing concerns toward the pursuit of student and organizational learning success. The six priorities include the Essential Studies Program, co-curricular experiences, teaching and learning resources, student recruitment and retention, the graduate studies program, and faculty and staff recruitment and retention.

The MAP capitalizes upon 10 years of sustained campus-wide effort toward continuous improvement:

  • From 2006-10, CSC was one of the first institutions to participate in and complete the Higher Learning Commission’s Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning. In this endeavor, CSC focused on measuring and improving general education effectiveness. This faculty-driven undertaking began with a year-long reflection upon the existing general education program and ultimately resulted in an increased adoption and incorporation of so-called “high-impact practices,” the creation and implementation of a new interdisciplinary and integrated Essential Studies Program, the foundation of a Teaching and Learning Center, and other unexpected but positive results.
  • CSC’s Strategic Plan 2011-14 challenged the College community to further reimagine the institution. Twenty Intentional Initiatives were developed in response to three key drivers in higher education: rapidly developing technology; rising expectations from students, government leaders, and taxpayers; and declining state revenues that were escalating out-of-pocket costs for students. The Red Balloon Project organized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities provided inspiration to re-imagine Chadron State College. Significant organizational changes transpired across the campus as a result of these discussions.

A Campus Facilities Plan was first developed in 1991 to meet the infrastructure needs for the coming decade. The current Campus Facilities Master Plan (2012) strives to create spaces which facilitate experience-based, hands-on learning and promote the cultivation of learning communities. Among its most important goals are to reinforce a distinct campus identity, to support a community of learners, to enrich student quality of life, to promote sustainable practices, and to reflect the campus connection to its rural environment. Some of the recommendations of note include the addition of a Rangeland Center, the construction of suite-style or townhouse-type housing to replace the aging West Court apartment-style units, and renovation of various buildings. The Campus Facilities Master Plan is renewed every 10 years.

In 2007, the Chadron State Foundation launched its first ever multi-million-dollar comprehensive fundraising campaign. The five-year campaign raised funds for scholarships, equipment, student and faculty support, and two building projects: The construction of the aforementioned Rangeland Lab and Coffee Agriculture Pavilion, and the renovation and expansion of the aging Armstrong Physical Education Building, including construction of the new Chicoine Center. The Next Horizon comprehensive campaign, which began in 2016, encompasses construction and renovation of the Math Science Building and football stadium and outdoor track, academic and program support, and scholarships to enhance the CSC educational experience.