Strategic Plan 2021-23: A New Plan for a Bright Future

Published on 16 April 2021

For the past 10 years, University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis was guided by STLCOP 20/20, our strategic plan that began in 2011. Under STLCOP 20/20, the accomplishments realized by the University were expansive and revealed strengths and potential that had previously been unexplored.

As the period for which the plan was created came to a close, representatives from across the University came together under the leadership of John A. Pieper, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, FFIP, president of the University and chair of the strategic planning committee, to imagine the future of our University with a fresh and innovative approach.

With a bright future ahead, an energized community and a solid foundation, the stage was set for a new strategic plan — a plan unlike any other in the history of the University.

Setting the Stage for Success

Planning began in October 2019 with the appointment of a strategic planning committee comprising student, faculty and staff members. Assisted by Collaborative Strategies Inc., the committee began gathering information — conducting surveys and focus groups, meeting with University constituents and reviewing the progress made on the critical issues and strategic directions outlined in STLCOP 20/20 — to thoughtfully consider the future trajectory of our institution and the guiding principles outlined in our mission, vision and values.

As the committee worked on refining the mission, vision and values of the institution, and drafts were shared with University constituents, it became clear that to create a plan that was relevant, actionable, adaptable and empowering to the campus community, the University strategic plan needed to explore a more flexible framework and structure.

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Missouri, the University was forced to reallocate resources and energy into keeping the campus community safe. Strategic planning continued but at a far slower pace.

With an extended schedule, the committee began to incorporate the anticipated lasting changes the pandemic would have on higher education and health care. In addition to the impact of the pandemic, the committee also had to incorporate two major developments at the University into their strategic planning — the expanded brand and University structure announced in September 2020 and the retirement of Pieper as president of the University in June 2021.

"The 2021-23 Strategic Plan comes at a pivotal moment in our University's 157-year history," Pieper said. "With our expanded brand and University structure and transitions in leadership, it was critical for us to create a plan that builds on the momentum of STLCOP 20/20 and provides flexibility to accommodate not only our transitions in leadership but also the changing landscapes of higher education and health care."

Amid these creative challenges, the committee pressed forward with a new and energized view of the University’s new strategic plan.

A New Approach

Within UHSP's new university structure, the strategic planning process was expanded to include a University-level plan that sets forth an overarching vision supported by plans at the college and administrative unit level. Within this framework, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, the College of Arts and Sciences and each administrative unit at the University have the flexibility to independently strive toward excellence in a more tailored, relevant way.

The University-level strategic plan includes six strategic directions, each supported by strategic objectives. Underneath these strategic directions and objectives each college has developed a three-year plan, while administrative units will revise their strategic plans annually to better respond to the fast-paced evolution of higher education.

"The committee was intentional in our decision to create strategic directions and objectives that were broad enough to allow the colleges and divisional units the freedom to decide how to best support those directions and objectives in a way that aligned with the University-level plan," said Michael A. Sass, Ph.D., special assistant to the president. "It was important to us that the colleges and divisional units were empowered to plan for themselves how they could effectively help us achieve the University's goals."

With this approach, the need for alignment became essential to the success of the University's strategic plan, and the committee took into consideration not only how the colleges and units would align with the University-level strategic plan but also how the University's strategic plan aligned with the institution's expanded brand and structure.

"Alignment was important to us because we need to make sure that, as we advance University initiatives or ideas about strategy, we are coordinating all the work we do throughout the organization," Sass said. "We were thoughtful about closely aligning the University's strategic plan with our brand and identity because they must be interconnected when thinking about how to move the University forward."

Once the University's strategic plan was finalized, Collaborative Strategies assisted the deans and faculty in each college in their planning process, using the strategic directions of the University plan as a framework and the strategic objectives as guide posts.

The broad descriptions of the strategic objectives became key in providing each college the opportunity to create plans that spoke specifically to their strengths and goals, while still aligning with the University's strategic plan. As each college developed their strategic plans and mission, vision and values statements, different strategic directions evoked different approaches on how to support the initiatives.

"As we developed the strategic plan for the College of Arts and Sciences, we discovered that our strength in developing new degree programs directly aligned with the University's strategic objective to grow enrollment and engage new student populations," said Kim Kilgore, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Our transfer student population continues to grow. One of our goals is to better engage and integrate students who are not first-time, full-time students. Supporting the students who choose to learn with us is our top priority, and we want to make sure they have the support systems that they need to succeed."

The colleges also looked at ways their strategic plans could support students in preparing them for future developments in their fields.

"St. Louis College of Pharmacy has a long history of preparing high-quality pharmacy graduates," said Brenda Gleason, B.S. '97, Pharm.D. '98, interim dean of St. Louis College of Pharmacy. "While developing the college's strategic plan, faculty realized that we must begin positioning ourselves for emerging technologies and future programming. We focused on providing creative curricular offerings and varied pedagogical approaches to deliver our Pharm.D. and graduate programs so that our graduates are prepared not only for the jobs of today, but also for the jobs of tomorrow."

On the Horizon

The 2021-23 Strategic Plan was approved by the Board in January 2021, and with the two college-level plans complete, the divisional units are hard at work developing annual plans to support both colleges and the University.

Additionally, the UHSP Board of Trustees announced the selection of David D. Allen, R.Ph., Ph.D., FASHP, FNAP, FAPhA, as the University's next president, with his tenure beginning on July 1, 2021. The search for the next dean of St. Louis College of Pharmacy remains underway, with a selection expected in the coming months.

An added benefit of a more flexible strategic plan framework and structure is that it serves as a bridge for the new president to set priorities within the University's plan that reflect his leadership goals. As different strategic directions and objectives are prioritized, the colleges and divisional units are able to prioritize the aligned directions and objectives of their own plans to help move the University forward.

In the coming years, as UHSP welcomes a new president and looks ahead to a post-pandemic world, there is no doubt that the landscapes of health care and higher education will change, but the framework and structure of the University’s strategic plan, supported by two strong college-level plans, position the University for a bold and bright future brimming with opportunity.

This story was first published in the spring 2021 issue of Script Magazine. To view past issues of Script, visit the Script Magazine archive.

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