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Aiming for Perfection – A state of mind. An attitude we choose to adopt in our lives and work as we endeavor to actualize the tremendous potential that lies within ourselves and Marshall University

Strategic Themes

On November 17, 2005, Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp announced the university’s process for creating a Strategic Vision that would guide future development and priority setting.  In doing so, President Kopp made a public request for ideas from Marshall’s global constituent base (news conference). Faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and interested parties external to the campuses of the university were asked to send in their ideas via a unique method involving on-line communication via an Internet web portal.

The response rate greatly exceeded expectations.  Through this inclusive approach for Strategic Vision idea generation, Marshall University received over 800 submissions from internal and external members of the Marshall community.  Following a review of the input received, seven distinct strategic themes emerged and the ideas provided have been consolidated under these themes.

The future of Marshall University and the actualization of its potential will depend on:

Improvement   A commitment to becoming better and better in all that we do each day, seeing opportunities in the challenges of our daily work and life and acting on them. It is about valuing the potential that each person brings to our community and our approach to the work that lies ahead as we endeavor to fulfill the promise of a better future. Example idea submissions for Improvement.

Investment        Strategic investments in what will matter most in terms of creating future opportunities, greater public value and success. Example idea submissions for Investment.


Inquiry                 A multi-faceted, resourceful process predicated on an inquiring mind. It takes two basic forms: 1) discovering novel ways to improve existing processes and 2) pioneering inventiveness that creates greater value and supersedes existing endeavors. Example idea submissions for Innovation/Inquiry.

Integration       An approach to systems thinking and practices that use multiple tools and strategies to discover new opportunities embedded within complex issues with the goal of advancing performance, productivity and new discoveries. Example idea submissions for Integration.

Initiative…            A concept empowering and mobilizing organized and systemic action to accomplish priority strategic goals. It values the power of ideas and ideals, which are embraced collectively and inspire a shared dedication to achieving the vision of the future. Example idea submissions for Initiative.

Involvement…     A self-initiated and self-directed engagement leading to advances and development in personal, community and institutional growth. It implies an understanding and commitment to relationship and community building and an ability to work effectively with diverse individuals and groups. Example idea submissions for Involvement.

Inclusiveness…    The provision of equal opportunity to achieve and succeed, fostering social and professional networking and shared success, while building a greater sense of community and citizenship. Example idea submissions for Inclusiveness.

Targeted Areas


Improve Annual Operating Revenue Base

Enlarge and stabilize the University’s revenue base available for operations through a combination of strategies:

  • optimize net tuition/fee revenues through enrollment management practices that maximize revenue yield (e.g., most favorable first-year class size, non-resident enrollment, and transfer student population; greater retention and 4-, 5- and 6-year graduation rates)
  • develop an effective, integrative and comprehensive institutional marketing/enrollment management plan to promote Marshall University and its programs in viable regional and national markets
  • increase enrollment/net income from e-learning courses and degree programs
  • increase philanthropic giving to Marshall (major gifts and annual gifts) and growth in discretionary fund endowment
  • increase extramural grant and contract funding, which partially offsets compensation and research operating costs
  • alternative funding strategies that avoid/reduce annual base funding liabilities
  • increase royalty and equity income from intellectual property commercialization
  • increase significantly annual discretionary revenues during each of the next seven years for reinvestment in priority initiatives and goals
  • pursue greater state appropriations including peer equity funding and experience increment funding

Improve Overall Competitive Stature of Marshall University

Prioritize initiatives and revenue allocations to position faculty, students and staff to compete successfully for hallmarks of meritorious distinction:

  • expand evidence-based assessment and accountability principles and practices currently used in teaching and learning to encompass all units throughout the university, enhancing  institutional effectiveness and performance.
  • develop degree programs that are high demand and provide the greatest benefit to the university and contribute to improving the intellectual capital of the State of West Virginia
  • establish an “Honors College” and corresponding service area to encourage and assist students in competing for national awards (e.g., Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Truman)
  • upgrade teacher education with a focus on scholarship of teaching, while fostering the principles of evidence-based practice, improvement and accountability for student learning
  • improve pedestrian safety by examining alternative traffic patterns to create a more cohesive and safer campus traffic plans
  • encourage and support the migration toward incorporating the principles of high performance service excellence throughout all services areas
  • foster conditions and practices that build a greater sense of community
  • create the “Marshall Commitment" for undergraduates which outlines a process in which a student is assured that graduation can occur in eight semesters of work
  • Organize and launch the da Vinci Roundtable, a comprehensive and futuristic faculty and staff development program
  • explore opportunities with emerging technologies to improve efficiencies and productivity


Invest in Present and Future Development

Modernize current facilities and prioritize new building investments across all campuses, fostering progress that:

  • advances student success and achievement
  • creates greater intellectual capital (i.e., public value) and improves student recruitment, enrollment, retention, and graduation rates
  • leads to the completion of a Health/Wellness & Recreation Center, and potentially a  Center for Lifelong Learning/Living that connects campus and the community


Invest in new academic programs that:

  • build on existing strengths
  • increase human intellectual capital
  • create public value and assist with state economic growth
  • increase student enrollment and revenue
  • develop professional, masters and doctoral programs in selective, high demand disciplines and career fields that create opportunities for economic development

Invest in People and conditions, enhancing individual and institutional performances that

  • address flexible loads, salaries, and professional development in innovative ways that enhance consequential interactions between faculty and students, which strengthen teaching/learning relationships, enhance success and achieve learning outcome goals
  • provide more incentive/recognition for faculty for innovative teaching, research, services proposals or activities. Create a significant recognition system for innovation and excellence
  • advance strategies that will increase the recruitment and retention of faculty
  • expand and intensify collaborations with other West Virginia institutions to develop a high tech research and economic development park in the Kanawha Valley
  • maximize the investments made with EPSCoR, INBRE, COBRA and research challenge funds to develop research capacity
  • invest in technologies that have a clear and predictable return on investment and which free-up operating funds


Incorporate Innovative Pedagogies and Practices Systemically

Develop fully the symbiotic potential of innovative pedagogies and multi-media technologies that advance thinking, learning and application, and improve educational opportunity, effectiveness and achievement by:

  • designing educational initiatives that create multiple customizable pathways for student learning
  • inspiring faculty development that advances the design, development and delivery of highly effective learning experiences
  • encouraging/empowering strategies for lifelong learning
  • advancing the caliber of student achievement in key thinking/learning/application domains
  • facilitating student learning through integration of innovative instructional methods and technology into pathways that yield successful outcomes
  • developing a multi-faceted, self-sustaining and productive summer program
  • partnering with other institutions to create a freshwater research collaboration
  • fostering innovative coaching and administrative tactics and strategies that lead to greater competitive success in athletic programs

Develop conditions and expectations that foster greater inquiry, creativity and scholarly engagement through the:


  • development of novel research niches that leverage faculty, facilities and leadership that create distinctive opportunities
  • expansion of faculty engagement in peer-reviewed scholarly/creative activity
  • expansion of student opportunities to participate in inquiry-based research, inventive pursuits, and/or creative work
  • exploration of emerging technologies by leveraging current capabilities to enhance local and regional economic development


Foster conditions that encourage, recognize and support inventiveness, experimentation and measured risk-taking to catalyze progress that assists in accomplishing priority goals by:

  • formalizing strategic partnerships with Research I universities in other states that provide opportunities to multiply the value created by Marshall’s investments in research. These partnerships should focus on specific areas of collaboration and cooperation that expand the fundability of research conducted at Marshall by providing access to specialized expertise and resources not available at Marshall
  • establishing a Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (e.g., Stanford BIO-X Research Institute) with a focus on areas that offer opportunity for economic development and advanced study programs
  • expanding undergraduate educational offerings and presence throughout the Advantage Valley Corridor
  • expanding partnerships and strategic alliances with the business sector and other universities to achieve priority goals


Foster greater student achievement and success through student-centric academic administrative processes and support services.

Focus on high performance service excellence in all domains, valuing time and eliminating unnecessary duplication of services and functions through:

Integration of Administrative Processes and Services by:


  • migrating away from linear, assembly-line practices to emphasize, integrated and innovated service platforms
  • developing integrative and interdisciplinary systems approaches that streamline processes, value time and focus on responsiveness, service and support
  • focusing on improving/integrating services that matter most to students, (e.g., advising, orientation, early intervention) faculty and staff development

Institution of Greater Interdisciplinary Collaboration by:


  • migrating institutionally to a knowledge/data-driven decision-making environment
  • achieving and maintaining excellence in a culture of integrated critical thinking and learning through interdisciplinary programs characterized by superior quality and value creation
  • bringing all colleges together in a common approach to student advising
  • providing interdisciplinary programs which enhance our graduates’ abilities to compete and adapt successfully to 21st century career opportunities
  • expanding the mission of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine to include a new emphasis on non-generalist specialties and greater research activity


Intensify meaningful faculty, staff, student and program connections and service with the community through the:

  • expansion of partnerships with community organizations to enhance educational opportunities
  • involvement in collaborative community initiatives designed to advance economic development
  • enhancement of relationships and K-12 partnerships through technology, professional development and pre-professional training (especially in math, reading, critical thinking, and science performance)


Providing the equality of opportunity that fosters achievement and success through social and professional practices by:


  • requiring students to engage in immersion-type experiential learning that have international/multicultural components
  • reviewing current activities, programming and initiatives to assess their effectiveness and progress toward advancing institutional goals for inclusiveness and diversity.
  • expanding partnerships with community organizations to provide greater cross-cultural opportunities and enhance diversity
  • studying and assessing the General Education program giving full consideration to the movement to a “common core”
  • working toward developing an institutional math, science, engineering and technology academy that includes virtual, residential and intensive workshops, summer experiences and outreach activities for both K-12 faculty and students

Signature  Initiatives


  • A comprehensive plan for revenue stabilization and enhancement
  • Complete the necessary steps to establish a 4-year, ABET-accredited engineering school
  • Develop and institute the Marshall Commitment
  • Focus resources on advancing centers of excellence, including probable initiatives:

·         Center for the Study of Genomic-Environmental Interactions

·         Disability Studies and Research Center

·         Transportation and Intelligent Transportation Systems Research, Training and Development

·         Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research

·         Marshall Freshwater Institute

·         Center for Environmental Research, Assessment and Policy

·         Center for Innovative Education:  Research, Policy and Pedagogy

·         National Institute for Forensic Science and Criminology


  • Plan, pilot and launch the Marshall/West Virginia Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Academy
  • Pilot the da Vinci Roundtable Project –  Renaissance Professor Program
  • Advance economic development through the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and other initiatives
  • Develop new degree programs that increase enrollment and revenue
  • Construct a health/wellness/recreation student center on the Huntington campus
  • Develop a comprehensive plan and funding mechanism(s) to support the construction and renovation of priority facilities

Next phase - Review and Comment

Marshall University now invites public review and comment regarding each Strategic Theme and associated Target Area identified from the ideas submitted.  This public review and comment period concludes on January 20, 2006.

Thereafter, the final strategic themes and target areas will be used to develop a series of one-to-three year Action Plans. Each action plan will include specific measurable goals for advancing these agendas and will be guided by Best Practices in each area.  

The development of the first Action Plan will commence on February 1, 2006.  Priority goals will be identified as part of this process along with the strategies for accomplishing each goal, indicators that will be used to monitor progress, benchmarks for evaluating goal attainment, accountability indices and a budget plan for supporting goal achievement.  The implementation of the first action plan is scheduled to commence at the end of April 2006.

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