East Central College will be looking to develop its vision in the form of a new strategic plan which President Dr. Jon Bauer hopes will be more focused and direct.
“Times have changed. The environment we operate in now is different,” Bauer said. “We’ve seen changes in funding, continued changes in enrollment and we’ve seen changes in the economy which also affects our enrollment.”
A new strategic plan will be mapped out throughout the current academic year, he said. Enrollment and new initiatives to bolster dual enrollment and online classes are items he believes are important to the developing plan.
Bauer said the current strategic plan is too complex and needs to be honed to address challenges facing the community college.
“What we need to do is narrow our areas of focus so that we have a strategic plan that focuses on a few key overarching priorities as opposed to one so complex that captures everything we do, but is also hard to discern,” he said. “We’re at a point where we need to reset our goals. The plan we have now is quite involved and I’d say too complex to be effective.”
A Changing Environment
Cuts to Missouri’s higher education budget have presented many new challenges for the college. ECC officials have made cuts and are looking for ways to boost enrollment.
The 9 percent state funding cut approved by Gov. Eric Greitens in early July slashed $150,000 on top of the $300,000 already cut from the college’s budget.
At the August board of trustees meeting, Bauer said enrollment was down 5 percent from last year’s credit hour count and the school’s total head count was down 5.6 percent.
Now that those new challenges have presented themselves, a more focused strategic plan is needed to negotiate the current environment, he said.
The new strategic plan will be outlined by a task force charged with taking stock from the college’s stakeholders. Bauer said those stakeholders will include faculty, staff, students, the community and others.
“We’ll tap into the expertise of the faculty and staff,” he said. “They certainly see what we do every day and have a good sense of what our priorities going forward will be.
“We also need to hear from our students, the community, and employers,” he said.
Bauer said the planning will get started in the fall and hopefully a plan can be completed by the end of the academic year. He said he wanted to leave open the option for more time to get it right, rather than meet a deadline.