A History of Strategic Planning at Lehman
Since 1968, the year Lehman was established, and in keeping with CUNY’s mission, the College has endeavored to provide an education that satisfied the needs of New York City’s urban population. In the half century that followed the College has undertaken a number of strategic planning efforts that have ranged in formality. The following timeline provides a glimpse of these efforts:
The Long-Range Planning Taskforce (1990-2000): Launched in 1990, the Long-Range Planning Taskforce was created to address changing student demographics and new market demands (most notably, a shift from the liberal arts to professions); and to address the findings of its 1988 Middle States self-study. The Taskforce was created to assess the institution’s mission, and to examine and address opportunities and challenges related to academic issues, student life issues, and college community interaction.
The Lehman College Strategic Plan (2000-2010): The Lehman College Strategic Plan (2001-2010) was launched in February, 2001, following a yearlong planning period. The plan was developed following a six-year period (1994-2000) that saw full-time equivalent undergraduate enrollments drop nearly 21 percent 1, and full-time equivalent graduate enrollments increase by 7 percent 2. Other influential factors in the development of the plan included the elimination of remediation at CUNY senior colleges, new requirements for high school graduation, the adoption of a business management model by the CUNY Central Administration, and the “tiering” of CUNY senior colleges, which further weakened Lehman’s ability to compete with its system peers. The plan featured 4 goals and 38 strategies 3 that focused on: a continuing academic excellence; a continuing focus on student recruitment; a continuing focus on student retention; and a continuing focus on community outreach and interaction.
The Strategic Planning Process (2005-2007): Following the 2004 revision of the College’s mission and vision statements, and the creation of its values statement, Lehman launched a strategic plan refresh. This was an effort to better align Lehman’s own planning efforts with that of CUNY and other important frameworks. Several areas were identified as priorities for the campus, including: Making Lehman College a tier 1 Institution within CUNY; Significantly increasing revenues with an emphasis on fundraising; Improving retention and graduation rates; Expanding outreach in the Bronx as well as Westchester county; Exploring the feasibility of constructing dormitories; and Accelerating the completion of the College’s Science Facility. Six goals were created as a result of this process. These goals emphasized lifelong learning; strengthening and reinforcing the curriculum; fostering academic, scholarly, and creative excellence; financial management; serving as a community anchor; and communicating the value of Lehman. Each provided a framework for accountability and action, which included responsible parties, target dates, action plans, outcomes, and status updates.
Achieving the Vision (2010-2020): Plans for Achieving the Vision began in September 2008, when former President Ricardo Fernández provided the 21-member Strategic Planning Council (SPC), composed of faculty, staff, and students (see Membership of the Strategic Planning Council), the formal charge of creating the College’s new Strategic Plan. Over the course of 18 months, the SPC engaged the campus community through working groups and tailored outreach (see Strategic Planning Cabinet Retreat). Input from these meetings resulted in the Strategic Planning Council Report (January 2010), which led to four goals. These included excellence in teaching, research, and learning; enhanced student success; greater institutional and financial effectiveness; and commitment to engagement and community service.
Common Threads Across Plans
Across the last 30 years Lehman’s numerous strategic planning efforts have had yielded common themes: to maintain its focus on academic, scholarly, and creative excellence; student retention, recruitment, and success; and serving its community as a vehicle for upward mobility and as a cultural hub. These plans have also followed similar planning structures, as noted below:
90X30: Shaping the Future with a Grand Challenge
90X30: Recently, the College launched its 90X30 initiative in recognition of the current demographic conditions of Bronx County, which based on recent estimates includes the nation’s poorest Congressional District, and has the second lowest educational attainment rate among New York counties. According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 27.7% of Bronx residents have an Associate’s degree or higher. In recognition of these social conditions, and in order to provide a stimulus to chart the future direction of the campus, President José Luis Cruz issued a grand challenge to double the number of high-quality degrees and certificates earned by students by the year 2030 from 45,000 to 90,000. This challenge has been leveraged to further solidify Lehman’s role in driving progress in the community through its various programs, initiatives, activities, and cultural events. This challenge serves as an opportunity for the College to strengthen its financial model through a focus on quality, impact, and scale.