Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year's Resolutions for Universities

As avid readers of this blog already know, I am a fan of New Year's Resolutions. I usually set over twenty goals for each year, and they prove helpful in directing effort during the year. 

Over the past few years, my employer (Belmont University) has been engaged in Vision 2020, which should amount to something like New Year's Resolutions for the University (to be accomplished by 2020). I recently served on the committee for the Athletics Department's contribution to Vision 2020, which was an enjoyable and interesting experience. 

My time on the Vision 2020 committee and my years of doing my own resolutions have taught me a few things. Most importantly, I have learned that SMART goals tend to be the most useful and effective. (For those who don't know, SMART usually stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based, though there are variations).

The most difficult part, in my view, is finding appropriate measurements. Some items are easy to measure - movements in endowment, enrollment, incoming student GPA and standardize test scores, rankings, etc. There are plenty of items that are important, but much more difficult to measure. And measurements can be overdone, especially if the focus on the measurement overshadows the ultimate goal.

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