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K-State Today

September 22, 2023

Moving forward with our Next-Gen K-State strategic plan

Submitted by President Richard Linton

Dear Faculty and Staff,

On Sept. 8, faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and other university stakeholders joined together to launch our Next-Gen K-State strategic plan. That afternoon was truly special as we came together to reaffirm our commitment to our land-grant heritage and mission while redefining what that means in today’s context. I was so inspired by being with you that day as we set out on our journey to achieve the vision and goals we crafted together. It is a plan that will transform how we serve our students and new kinds of learners, solve grand challenges, and positively impact our communities, our state, our economy, our nation and the world. 

Our strategic plan is big, bold and transformational. Over the past two weeks, I have heard from many of you about the excitement you have for the opportunities ahead of us. I also know that you may have questions or even concerns about how we go about implementing such a big and bold plan, particularly as so many of you have spent the past few years continuing to do more with less — from navigating challenging circumstances like declining enrollment and the pandemic to working for years with no raises until recently, with fewer resources all around. I can only imagine how you may be feeling. I have heard and seen this sentiment firsthand, though, by walking around our campuses to visit with so many of you and through the more than 10,000 surveys and comments we received in the stakeholder engagement process that underpinned our strategic plan.

With this plan, we are charting a new course for K-State, and that includes each and every one of you. This also means we are focused on building a university that does more with more. It will not happen overnight, but rest assured that I am committed to supporting you as we work together to implement our exciting vision and realize our full potential.

So, what is in this plan that will transform how we work and excel in delivering our land-grant mission?  The plan highlights the bold future we will be working toward through 2030 and beyond. It features a new vision and six core values to guide all we do with a strong focus on becoming “One K-State.” Our K-State Opportunity Agenda highlights four core areas of opportunity that are broad enough for our entire community to see themselves in them and specific enough in how we can leverage our core strengths across the institution. Our seven priority focus areas outline bold ideas and key strategies that will move K-State forward in accelerating academic innovation, building and sustaining our workforce, delivering an unmatched experience to a growing number of students and learners, driving transformational discovery, integrating engagement across all we do, investing in the jobs and economies of tomorrow, and achieving operational excellence. Our ten strategic imperatives outline clear goals we are working toward, supported by 17 measures of success with associated performance targets for 2025 and 2030. These measures of success and dozens of others will be utilized across the institution to mark our progress in achieving our goals and celebrate our successes along the way. 

I invite you to view all these key elements of our plan in our Next-Gen K-State summary plan. You can also find the most current data available for our university metrics on our measures of success dashboard

As I said in my Sept. 5 letter announcing new investments to advance our plan, we know that our aspirations to become a leading next-generation land-grant university will require new resources and intentional, targeted investment in our strategic priorities. That is why we are investing more than $47.7 million in new, recurring and one-time funds to advance our priorities. New state and federal funding, new university funds generated by our tuition increase, and philanthropy are all providing the resources we need to begin making strategic investments in K-State today.

These investments don’t end here. As we continue growing our enrollment, expanding the impact of our engagement, and accelerating our research, more resources will flow into our university that will be redeployed into all facets of our mission.

Operational excellence is also a key part of our plan, meaning we are focused on helping you work smarter, not harder, and ensuring you have the tools, technologies and spaces you need to do your jobs and contribute to our shared mission. You may have heard references recently to “One K-State.” This is not a slogan, nor is it a fancy marketing or advertising campaign. It is a mindset we must adopt across our institution to be successful, recognizing we are better when we work together than we are working apart in our individual siloes. It means always asking ourselves, in a way that guides all our decisions, “What is best for K-State?”

What’s next? We are quickly moving from planning to action. In the coming weeks, you will be hearing more about the specific initiatives being funded through these new investments, including calls for proposals for investments in areas such as academic and research innovation. We will expand our strategic planning focus to include colleges and other major units, as well as other stakeholder groups, as they develop or update their strategic plans and connect them to our university priorities and targets.  We are also establishing a strategic planning team in my office that will align universitywide strategic initiatives, track and report on our progress, share stories of our success and impact, and oversee the day-to-day activities necessary to fully institutionalize all facets of our plan.

A town hall for faculty and staff, sponsored by Faculty Senate and my office, is scheduled for next Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in Regnier Forum. The town hall will also be livestreamed on our website. We will provide some brief opening remarks, followed by a Q&A session moderated by Faculty Senate President Don Von Bergen. Cabinet members will be there to help answer your questions. I hope you will join us.  

I also invite you to track our progress and keep up with the latest strategic planning updates on our Next-Gen K-State website, where you will find a wealth of information in addition to our plan and metrics dashboard. Over this semester, this site will evolve from a planning site to a communication hub tying together our strategic initiatives across the university and celebrating our stories of success and excellence.

In closing, I think it is helpful to remind ourselves what it means to be a land-grant university and why we do what we do, especially here in Kansas. As the nation’s first operational land-grant university, we have a unique and important legacy to build on, unlike any other university in our country. Today, we have an opportunity to reset and once again think about what it means to be a next-generation, modern university — how we build and support social mobility and encourage all those we serve to achieve their dreams, even going beyond what they can dream. We must constantly think about what we are doing to best serve the needs of Kansans, recognizing that if we do good things in Kansas, we can do good things around the world.

I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this video from our talented team at the Division of Communications and Marketing that builds on this concept, takes us back to our roots as a land-grant university and provides an inspiring narrative for where we hope to go in the future.

As we move forward, know that I am appreciative of all you do for our great university. I am committed to your success — working with and supporting you every step of the way as we fulfill our mission and achieve our exciting vision.

Go ’Cats!

Rich Linton