By Gretchen E. Mullin Sawicki
This past year has been full of COVID-19 fear, heart-wrenching social unrest, and hard-to-swallow budget decisions – but it has also been a year of profound self-reflection, large-scale planning, and the completion of NHTI’s 5-year strategic plan. The timing was perfect: The previous plan ended in 2019; I arrived at NHTI in 2019; and the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) was renewing its strategic plan.
The strategy stars aligned, but the culmination of the pandemic, racial unrest, and political climate provided a new lens that reminded us that our plan needed flexibility and urgency partnered with complexity and courage. The plan needed to be forward thinking enough to allow the college the nimbleness to make pivotal changes due to the cultural time in which it was being created as well as to refocus its attention on the key elements of student success, data-driven decision making, and the culture of care in creating a transfer- and career-ready graduate.
With broad community input from all constituencies within the college and NHTI’s external advisory board, the four pillars of the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan were written, rewritten, and recrafted yet again so that the many varied voices of the NHTI became one unified voice both in print and in action. Each pillar holds its rare distinction yet, cemented together, drives the NHTI Mission and Purpose forward.
The four elements of student success, workforce development, institutional effectiveness, and diversity, equity, and inclusion are the foundation of NHTI. Each area builds in corresponding goals and key performance indicators that measure progress. Data is reviewed and reported on by members of the President’s Cabinet, who track completion and challenges each November and April. Even our website narrates the story of the plan to share NHTI’s vision on a larger platform.
The Four Pillars
- Student Success: How we keep students on a path to success
- Workforce Development: How we meet workforce needs
- Institutional Effectiveness: How we build and use our resources efficiently
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: How we support our most vulnerable populations and let them know that they are welcome
The four tenets of the plan purposefully mirror the college’s shared governance structure so we can track our success even at the micro-level in our daily work. Yet, although we have a well-aligned plan, we are all well aware of the sudden interruptions of life, the data that makes us pause in our approach, and the need to adapt and shift. Structure meets agility at NHTI. This polarity in strategy is one that we plan for, prepare for, and implement to celebrate our institution today and into the future.