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Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Marshall University begins process of creating strategic vision

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Led by Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp’s goal of actualizing MU’s “tremendous potential,” the university has begun the process of creating a strategic vision that will be implemented through a collaborative effort between Marshall and its public constituents. Kopp describes the process outlined as inclusive, dynamic and ongoing.

At a news conference this afternoon in the Communications Building on Marshall’s Huntington campus, Kopp announced that the process of enlisting ideas to be considered for the plan, not only from students, faculty and staff at Marshall, but also from MU’s  broad constituent base – alumni, friends, elected officials, members of the public, etc. – has begun.

“An inclusive process that inspires active participation across all constituent groups creates a sense of ownership of the plan and a pervasive dedication to accomplishing its goals,” Kopp, MU’s president for the past 4 ½ months, said. “This is an opportunity that invites everyone to the table who wants to participate and share their ideas for shaping the future of Marshall.”

The university’s Strategic Vision Development Committee, which has been meeting throughout the fall, adopted a strategic vision titled “Aiming for Perfection: Marshall’s Strategic Vision – Our Bold Constellation for the Future.” Kopp described “Aiming for Perfection” as a state of mind.

“It is the attitude that we choose to bring to our life’s journey,” he said. “It is the vision that lights our journey as we endeavor to actualize the tremendous potential that lies within ourselves and Marshall University. It is not a destination. It is not about ‘being perfect,’ but committing ourselves to becoming better and better in all that we do each day.

“It is about seeing opportunity in the challenges of our daily work and life. It is about valuing the potential that each person brings to our community. It is about our approach to the work that lies ahead as we endeavor to fulfill the promise of a better future.”

Kopp said the Strategic Vision that emerges from this initial planning process will serve as a compass for the university, defining its strategic directions for the next seven years. Immediately thereafter, Marshall will engage its communities in a more detailed planning process involving the development of the first in what will be a series of multi-year action plans.

Each action plan will have a one- to three-year time horizon and will involve explicit goals that tie into the strategic vision, strategies for accomplishing each goal, indicators that will be used to monitor progress and benchmarks for evaluating the successful attainment of each goal. Each action plan will be accompanied by a budget plan that will provide the resources required to accomplish the plan goals.

Initial implementation of the strategic vision will begin with the first action plan that will be developed between February and April 2006.

The input stage began today and continues through Dec. 19. During that time, all constituents will use a specific Web site to submit their ideas concerning the university’s future priorities. The site to be used is

The idea summation phase takes place from Dec. 21 through Jan. 2. During that time, all submitted ideas and information from discussions will be organized, condensed into common themes and prioritized. A first draft document will then be created that outlines all the input that has been received to date. It will be posted for public review and comment from Jan. 3 through Jan. 9. Finalization of the Strategic Vision takes place Jan. 10-12, followed by the constituent review Jan. 13-20.

In the next stage, the draft document will be presented to the executive committee of Marshall’s Board of Governors, followed by revision of the document if needed, a meeting with opinion and community leaders for further review, presentation of the draft document to the entire Board of Governors, and more refinement as needed. The final step in this stage is to share the revised document with all constituents.

The next stage is presentation of the vision document to the Joint Education Committee of the West Virginia Legislature during Marshall Day at the Legislature Jan. 31 in Charleston.

The next three stages, which continue through April 24, include the beginning of the one- to three-year action plan process, priority goal setting and action plan implementation. The final ongoing stage includes progress updates and celebrates success for up to seven years.

Participants will be asked to contribute ideas pertaining to four strategic goal areas. They are: Intellectual Capital, Community and Service, Economic Development and Discovery and Innovation. Here is a brief description of each of these areas:

  • Intellectual Capital: This area is a challenge to consider educational innovations that will expand and elevate the intellectual resources of the state and region. It entails developing and maximizing human potential through educational innovation.

  • Community and Service: This area defines how higher education must provide students with knowledge and commitment to be socially responsible citizens in a diverse democracy and an increasingly interconnected world. Colleges and universities have important civic responsibilities to their communities, their nation, and the larger world.

  • Economic Development: In a world in which the commerce of ideas will predominate, opportunity favors the prepared mind that can think critically and integratively and apply these ideas creatively and innovatively to create new landscapes of economic enterprise. Our challenge is to prepare students futuristically with the intellectual tools and acumen to think inventively, innovatively and creatively to create new vistas of opportunity and solve problems that are only now developing.

  • Discovery and Innovation: Scholarly activity encompasses the full range of endeavors from single investigator work involving the disinterested pursuit of truth in a field to interdisciplinary applied research focused on patentable discoveries. While not mutually exclusive, this continuum provides a useful perspective about the range of scholarly activity that occurs at public universities. As we consider opportunities and approaches to optimizing our investment in scholarly work, it is important that we consider how to create greater benefit across disciplines.

Simple instructions on how to submit ideas are accessible on the Web site. For those wanting to participate but unable to access a computer, they may call (304) 696-3474 for information on where to fax or mail their suggestions and comments.

Kopp said the strategic planning process at Marshall will be ongoing well into the future and will require effective communication among MU’s many constituents on strategies that will shape the university’s future.

“President Kopp has brought a fresh, new vision to the campus of Marshall University and the Tri-State region,” MU Provost Sarah Denman said. “The strategic vision process being implemented by Marshall University under Dr. Kopp’s leadership will be a process that will continue to evolve and change over the coming years. This is an exciting time to be a part of the Marshall University community. Every individual will have the opportunity to provide input which can address any or all concepts of the strategic vision plan.”

Menis Ketchum, chair of Marshall’s Board of Governors, said he likes the fact that many of MU’s constituents will be involved, and that the strategic vision will be updated and reviewed continually over the next seven years.

“Finally, Marshall has a strategic plan that will involve the faculty and staff,” Ketchum said. “It won’t be a plan that sits on the shelf because it has timelines under which each step of the plan must be accomplished, and for which the administration will be accountable.”

Kopp said he looks forward to reviewing the ideas submitted for Marshall’s future.

“Involving a wide array of constituents provides a forum for a very active dialogue and multiple points of view,” he said. “The process creates a dynamic that is important for us to appreciate. This process will be vibrant, catalytic, aspirational as well as inspirational.”

Student body President Michael Misiti expressed his appreciation that this initiative was designed to include student participation.

“While there is no way to gauge what the level of student participation will be, it means a lot to me that President Kopp and his administration has created a way that we, as students, can give our input on the direction of Marshall,” Misiti said. “It’s my hope that, through various service organizations on campus in addition to individual input, the voices of Marshall’s student body will be a part of this important process.”

Mike Dunn, a carpentry supervisor and chair of the classified staff council, sees the long-range perspective of this strategic vision as a critical component to Marshall’s future success.

“We understand that this is a long-range process that is going to move Marshall forward over the next several years,” Dunn said. “What impressed me the most was that nothing in this plan is ‘set in stone’ once it’s developed. In three years, we’re going to review the benchmarks and have the courage to continue what’s working and change what’s not. This will allow us to build on Marshall’s strengths, in addition to adapting to new opportunities.”