Administration seeks input for strategy refresh

Community asked to critique, corroborate aspects of outgoing Imagine 2023 plan



Imagine 2023

Jacob Boyko, News Editor (He/Him)


As school officials begin strategic planning for South Dakota State University’s future, community members will play a key role in the process by looking back and thinking forward. 

Through input sessions, members of the SDSU community and Brookings community have the opportunity to project demands education will need to address by the late 2020s and share with campus administration what they think the university is doing right and wrong. 

“Our leadership style is one where we want input,” Michaela Willis, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said. “We want collaboration — we know that we may not see everything that’s going on in the world of higher education.”

Willis, along with Dennis Hedge, the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, led the nearly two-hour session last week at McCrory Gardens. 

Participants were asked to break into groups and brainstorm SDSU’s “points of pride” across four goals implemented by the current strategic plan, Imagine 2023, which was developed in 2017.

Imagine 2023’s goals are to:

• Achieve Excellence Through Transformative Education

• Cultivate and Strengthen Community Engagement

• Foster Innovation and Increase Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (RSCA)

• Be a Growing, High-Performing and Healthy University

“I’m always interested in the collaboration between various aspects of Brookings,” Trish Matson Buus, a community member who attended the Oct. 26 session, said. “I’m also a parent of a couple of teenagers in high school, so SDSU is obviously a potential option for my kids.” 

Matson Buus said her points of pride for SDSU include the success of One Day For State, the precision agriculture program and the Pride of the Dakotas marching band attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Deloris Jensen, a 90-year-old alum and member of the council of trustees, also attended the session. 

“I’m very loyal to this school and stay involved in any development in what has become my major,” the 1954 home economics graduate said.

The next strategy will build off of the framework of Imagine 2023, according to Willis.

“I think we are tackling many of the challenges that face higher education — that face [SDSU] specifically — in Imagine 2023,” Willis said. “It’s been written flexible enough to allow us to pivot and move in different directions … but we’re going to keep pushing ourselves as a university to be responsive to what’s happening in the world and to solve the world’s problems.”

Preparation for the next strategic plan began last summer when SDSU President Barry Dunn named Hedge and Willis as co-chairs for the process. Willis said the planning team’s goal is to have a draft of the strategic plan in late February, a final plan to Dunn in March and then have it approved by the board of regents in May. 

The plan will be public by late spring, according to Willis.  

SDSU will hold community input sessions Nov. 2 in Sioux Falls and Nov. 17 in Rapid City. Students, faculty and community members are encouraged to attend.