We are moving into a new phase of strategic planning at FPU. In reality we are always thinking strategically. We must. Higher education has changed dramatically and continues to change. We are advised constantly that the change will continue until (and if) the educational environment enters a new phase of stability. That phase seems to be nowhere in sight. If I were a futurist, I might have more to say, but as a historian, I tend to understand the present in terms of how the past has brought us to this point.
This new phase of strategic planning builds on our recent work. In 2012, former president Menjares led the campus to develop a series of broad goals and an agenda that is the foundation for more detailed strategic thinking. Since then academic leaders and others have developed plans for discussion. In particular, tentative directions for our academic programs and enrollment. These are now entering a period of broader discussion and out of that discussion revision. Financial planning is underway, as is planning for facilities. From mission and environment comes our academic and enrollment planning, from the priorities and goals set in these areas develop the financial and facilities plans. The latter inform the former and revision becomes circular. We cannot achieve academic and enrollment plans if we cannot make it work financially. And we cannot achieve financial goals for needed resources and long-term stability if we do not have the right mix of academic and enrollment planning. By the end, it all fits together—at least, that is the goal.
I like the way the writer of a recent article in the journal of the Association of Theological Schools put it. He explained that even seminaries have to pay attention to finances and enrollment so that they have “capacity for mission.” That phrase speaks volumes. We have a Christian and educational mission. To achieve that mission we must work within and develop our capacity, which is tied to our “markets.” It may seem amazing to many, but even those institutions with large endowments pay attention to how their constituencies, those whom they serve, or their “markets,” perceive them as meeting their needs.
Some of us find this fascinating and we want to see it all work together. You will find those of us who do in both administrative and faculty roles. Some of us find it frustrating, bothersome and perhaps beneath an institution of Christian higher learning. You will find those of us who feel that way both in administrative and faculty roles. Perhaps we would find the same in our churches and among our alumni. I receive notes from our graduates who speak about how FPU prepared them for professions in which they now excel, are leaders and have Christian influence. I also receive letters and speak with our graduates who remind me of the uniqueness of our mission of learning and serving, and the danger of giving in to the needs of the time. I find this fascinating too. Both have something to say to us.
Those of us charged with leading and ensuring that both our mission is achieved and that FPU is strategically positioned for long-term viability and success generally find this work energizing and some of the most important we will do. We want to have “capacity for mission.” We desire to pursue our mission of Christ-centered education, and see leaders prepared for service in all areas of our society, schools, businesses, churches and lives. We want to see our students broadly and deeply educated in the liberal arts and sciences, and professionally prepared to fulfill their particular callings. Everyone who is a part of the FPU community—on our campuses, among our alumni, in the churches, schools, businesses and communities we serve (here and around the world) is a part of achieving that mission.
As we pursue this work, we invite you to send your ideas, participate in the discussion and continue to be part of the FPU community that is such a light to the world. Keep us in your prayers as we pursue this very important work. You will be hearing more as we continue our work together.