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Planning Theme Focus Areas
Each of these themes represents priority areas of focus as K-State works toward becoming the next-generation land-grant university. While these themes will serve as the basis for the additional dialogue that will inform our next strategic plan, they will not necessarily be the only components of that strategic plan. Some theme areas, priorities, or strategies may be re-positioned or re-envisioned through the work and additional conversations among our task forces, Advisory Committee, and university leadership, while other themes may rise to prominence through the same process and necessitate additional goals or strategies.
Building and Sustaining the Next-Generation Land-Grant Workforce at K-State
People are at the heart of all we do at K-State. Our faculty and staff educate, train, challenge, empower, and support our learners who are meeting the needs of both today and tomorrow. They engage in groundbreaking discovery and innovation, invest in our state’s communities, and provide the critical supports needed for us to deliver on our mission. And they have very different needs, with both our faculty and staff requiring very different structures, policies, and frameworks to help us recruit and retain our talent while maximizing their work and impact across our K-State community.
We also know that higher education is changing. The workplace is evolving dramatically in higher education, introducing new challenges while enabling new opportunities for how we work and collaborate with one another to fulfill our mission. Our faculty and staff demographics are also changing. We must consider what is necessary for our workforce to keep pace with and navigate these changes, innovate alongside them, and maximize our ability to be successful. This involves building a culture of support, equity, and transparency that puts actions behind the words “we value our people” and demonstrates our commitment to their wellbeing. We must also maintain a culture that prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all faculty and staff. And it includes implementing structures that hold us all accountable to our mission and one another. By doing so, we will ensure our workforce is stable, supported, constantly aligned with our future vision, and positioned to enable all we seek to accomplish as the next-generation land-grant university.
Delivering an Unmatched and Impactful Student Experience
K-State is home to a passionate student population and distinctly unique student experience in higher education, where we have an opportunity to transform lives, train future leaders, and empower graduates to become change agents throughout Kansas and across the world.
As demographics change and new learner profiles emerge, we must work to understand how to both preserve positive elements of our existing student culture and adapt other areas to meet the needs of our future students – whether they are more of a traditional on-campus student or a nontraditional learner who may be focused more on developing key skills or quickly earning industry credentials. We must recognize different types of students and other learners require different approaches and solutions to help them fully maximize their experience. This is highly dependent upon our ability to be a university that that constantly demonstrates our commitment to student wellbeing and one that not only values but embraces diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging throughout our student population and across all parts of the student and learning experience. We must also make our value proposition explicit and clear to all prospective students and other learners, helping them clearly understand why K-State is the place they should attend to follow their passions and realize their fullest potential. And we must focus on providing a positive, transformative experience for all our students and other learners who come to us seeking the value and impact K-State can have on their lives.
Accelerating Academic Innovation to Meet Student Needs
The student profile of today and tomorrow is very different from those who K-State has traditionally served. We must aggressively work to meet these students and learners where they are, designing relevant programs and curriculum and aligning our practices with their needs. This means rethinking the typical classroom setting where learning occurs today. It also means challenging the delivery systems and structures we have traditionally leaned upon to serve students – recognizing we must be uncompromising in pushing ourselves to rapidly deliver academic solutions designed specifically to meet the needs of our students and other learners, as well as our external partners and collaborators who depend on our university and students to grow their communities and economies.
Above all, we must be nimble and agile in all we do, recognizing rapid change requires an equal focus on innovation and disruption in all we do to meet these demands.
Investing in the Jobs and Economies of Tomorrow
Economic prosperity is a central component to our land-grant mission that crosses all parts of the institution. Some of the ways our K-State community drives economic prosperity is by educating students as future members of the workforce, engaging in discovery and driving innovation that builds companies and economies, and delivering a circular impact on all the communities we serve locally and globally.
We must build on this impact by constantly pushing to understand the needs of our partners, employers, communities, and industries and align all that we do – and assets we have to offer – to drive the future prosperity of our state, nation, and world. This includes developing the structures, policies, and frameworks that unlock the fullest potential of our innovation and how we support broad economic development across the institution. We must also leverage our unique statewide infrastructure to develop the type of integrated and responsive solutions our partners in workforce and economic development throughout the state need for our economies and communities to thrive.
Driving Transformational Discovery, Innovation, and Scholarship
At K-State, we have an exciting opportunity to collectively define the research profile of a next-generation land-grant university – in basic and applied research, through interdisciplinary collaborations, via industry partnerships, and by creating solutions that can be commercialized and drive broad economic growth.
In doing so, we must identify and build the environments that best enable the collaborations we know can and will amplify the impact of our discovery, both internally and externally. We must think about the structures and supports that are necessary to advance this type of collaboration and bring people together in new and exciting ways. We must ensure our research enterprise is aligned with the needs and opportunities of the world in which our discovery occurs, and where society is headed next. And we must take great care to integrate all facets of our institution so that research, teaching, and Extension are fully blended and positioned to support one another and enable this transformational impact.
Integrating Engagement Across All We Do
As a higher education institution, we have numerous communities and partners we connect with and support, with needs that are constantly evolving – often at a faster pace than higher education has historically been able to maintain. We have a unique opportunity to leverage our statewide footprint in redefining how a higher education institution engages with its many disparate stakeholders in an integrated and impactful way – adapting to changing circumstances and elevating both the perceived and real value we can deliver to people, partners, industries, and communities. And, as a land-grant university, it is imperative that we do so in a way that strengthens the wellbeing of Kansans across the state.
To do so, we must have the appropriately integrated structures that leverage the significant abilities of our K-State community in the context of engagement, bringing together the relevant pieces and parts that drive transformational impact. This extends to our people as well, where we must effectively communicate and engage with one another to amplify our work, both inside and outside our university. We must also operate with a full understanding of all our community partners and their needs so that we engage with them as effectively as possible – including those throughout Kansas and those that extend to all corners of the nation and world. And we also must make it clear how these same audiences can and should engage with our institution, along with the value we bring to their work or daily lives.
Read more about our task force strategic planning themes (pdf)