Strategic planning is used to concentrate resources into a few critical directions in order to best maximize the benefits to stakeholders. Our stakeholders include all of the groups we exist to serve and who are affected by the choices we make. For the CVM, this includes our students and trainees, the employers of graduates, our faculty and staff, our alumni and donors, professional veterinary medicine, and society at large.
Our aim with Beyond Vision 2020 was to revise the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan to reflect our goals for the next three years (2020-2023) allowing the College of Veterinary Medicine to:
- Set clear goals for the future,
- Provide a sharpened focus and prioritize needs,
- Align our goals with our resources,
- Respond to the changing needs of the veterinary profession, and
- Create a commitment to action by involving and engaging our stakeholders.
Besides the fact that strategic planning is a part of any effective management strategy, several factors have been key drivers for the Beyond Vision 2020 process:
1. Re-accreditation in 2020: Accreditation is the process by which an educational institution or program submits to a voluntary, non-governmental review to determine whether it meets accepted standards of quality. Within veterinary medicine, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education (COE) develops the standards and conducts the reviews of DVM educational programs on a 7-year basis. In 2020, the College will participate in a full site visit and all areas of the College will be reviewed to ensure that 1) our programs meet national standards as well as our own stated mission and goals, 2) the science and art of veterinary medicine are being advanced through contemporary curricula, and 3) our graduates achieve specific learning goals and are competently prepared to begin professional practice.
2. Managing the financial constraints associated with decreased state funding and rising student debt load: State funding levels for veterinary schools and colleges have decreased substantially over the past decade. In addition, in fiscal year 2021, the University of Missouri, Columbia will adopt a new resource allocation model that has the potential to impact the College’s economy. Hence, difficult choices have to be made regarding where to invest resources as well as how tuition and fee increases might impact veterinary student indebtedness.
3. Responding to the future direction of veterinary education: Societal needs from the veterinary profession continue to evolve, and we need to position the College to train a diverse work force of job-ready professionals that meet these societal needs. These approaches need to be cost-effective for the trainee and provide a financially viable return on their investment.
4. Responding to additional issues facing the veterinary profession: Preparing the job-ready graduate means preparing globally-competent resilient individuals with skills beyond the classroom, clinic, or research laboratory. Physical and mental well-being, written and verbal communication skills, critical thinking, and business and marketing skills are among the many aspects of ensuring the success and well-being of our veterinary professional, graduate, and post-graduate clinical trainees.
These drivers, as well as our own assessment of the College’s challenges, opportunities, capabilities, and resources have been used by the strategic planning committees to build a roadmap for the College for the next three years.
One of the greatest by-products of effective strategic planning is its ability foster engagement and collaboration across the organization. Our collaborative planning process was structured to ensure that a comprehensive plan would be created, that people would understand the plan, and that the organization would be able to implement it. A guiding principle of Beyond Vision 2020 has been to involve a variety of people in the work teams that identified, refined and prioritized the goals found in the College’s Vision 2020 plan.
To this end, we created a two-tiered committee focused specifically on ensuring the creation of a workable plan.
The main Strategic Planning Committee consisted of thought leaders representing the four main themes in the Vision 2020 revision, i.e. Teach, Heal, Discover, and Serve. These individuals were identified by having served on the Vision 2020 planning committee and volunteering to attend a 1-day retreat held by the Dean in August 2019 with the exception of the Serve subcommittee theme leaders that were added after the August retreat when it was decided that rather than have the Serve theme be a cross-cutting theme, it should be a separate theme. The following individuals served as leaders of the four theme subcommittees detailed below: Linda Berent, Elizabeth Bryda, Lauren Delaney, Craig Franklin, Janie Harmon, Joanne Kramer, John Middleton, David Wilson, and Shuping Zhang.
Four theme-driven Strategic Planning Subcommittees led by 2-3 people from the main Strategic Planning Committee named above were populated by the theme leaders from a list of volunteers and content experts within a given theme. The composition of these subcommittees were as follows:
Teach Subcommittee: Chris Baines, Tamara Hancock, and Laurie Wallace; chaired by Linda Berent and Joanne Kramer
Heal Subcommittee: Anastasia Glahn, Dae Young Kim, Angela McCleary-Wheeler, Megan McCracken, Bryan Torres; chaired by John Middleton and David Wilson
Discover Subcommittee: Kate Anderson, Shawn Bender, Chris Baines, Charlie Brown, Joan Coates, Philip Johnson, Carol Reinero, and Sherri Sachdev; chaired by Elizabeth Bryda and Craig Franklin
Serve Subcommittee: Craig Payne and Tim Evans; chaired by Lauren Delaney, Janie Harmon, and Shuping Zhang
In addition, to committee and subcommittee participants, input was sought from other faculty members, staff, students, and outside stakeholders. Each subcommittee decided the objectives and goals for their theme and prioritized them.
Process and Timeline
Strategic planning can be defined as a structured process through which members of an organization reflect upon their challenges, opportunities, capabilities and resources; examine the needs of their stakeholders; and identify forward-thinking goals, objectives and priorities to guide them into the future. In August 2019, a structured process and working timeline for revising the CVM’s Vision 2020 plan was established.
Our process included these major work steps:
- Assemble the main strategic planning committee and theme-driven subcommittees
- Review available information and data to make informed decisions (see below)
- Revise, as needed, the College’s Mission, Vision and Values
- Revise the College’s Strategic Goals
- Define Objectives and Action Items under each Strategic Goal
In revising the Vision 2020 plan, the committees considered the following (Figure 1):
- The Dean’s top priorities stated in her 4 September 2019 email.
- Accomplishments of the Vision 2020 plan to date as reported to the Dean on 1 August 2019 by members of the original Vision 2020 subcommittees.
- Feedback gained from the Fall 2018 CVM Retreat.
- AVMA COE Standards and the CVM’s draft self-study.
- Results of the holistic curriculum review.
- Input from faculty, staff, students, and external stakeholders
- UM System Strategic Priorities (“Compacts for Education, Research, Engagement and Economic Development for the 21st Century”)
- MU Strategic Plan
Items were prioritized based on level of importance and urgency, and some items from the previous plan were eliminated. Major accomplishments from Vision 2020 plan are summarized below.
August 2019 – Dean Henry held a retreat with several volunteer faculty members and administrators to help define the strategic planning process.
September-October 2019 – The main strategic planning committee is finalized and subcommittees are assembled.
October-December 2019 – Main strategic planning committee meets monthly. Subcommittees meet as needed to revise and develop the strategic goals (Teach, Heal, Discover, and Serve) and revise and develop the objectives and action items under each strategic goal.
December 31, 2019 – Draft strategic plan completed.
January, 2020 – Stakeholder input sought.
February, 2020 – Strategic planning committee revises plan based on stakeholder input.
March, 2020 – Final document submitted to Dean Henry.
Summary of Accomplishments from Vision 2020
The Vision 2020 plan had five strategic goals, which we have condensed into four strategic themes in the Beyond Vision 2020 strategic plan. Elements of the original Strategic Goal #5 were moved into the Serve theme (now Strategic Goal #4).
Teach – The Teach theme developed from Strategic Goal #1 in the Vision 2020 plan, data from the college-wide retreat, data from the curriculum review, AVMA COE standards 6, 9, and 11, strategic priorities of UM System and MU, and overall stakeholder input. Objectives 1, 2, and 3 from the Vision 2020 plan were reviewed. Details of the accomplishments of Objectives 1, 2 and 3 were reviewed and are summarized here.
Accomplishments under Objective 1 from Vision 2020 were significant and represent the major portion of progress on Vision 2020’s Strategic Goal #1. The holistic curriculum review was accomplished using a diverse group of faculty members. The core individuals involved were the teaching and curriculum committees with stakeholder input across the college, alumni, and employers of CVM graduates. This process was time intensive, and we found it necessary to go back much further in the process to better understand how each course and its content fit within the overall curriculum and how each related to the evolving needs of the veterinary profession and newly developed curriculum learning outcomes (CLO’s). Recommendations from the curricular review and feedback from faculty and house officers on the need for curricular revision are ongoing and form the basis for the new Objective 1 in the revised strategic plan.
A student outcomes and curricular coordinator position was established and the entire curriculum mapped to curricular level learning objectives. Workshops on question and objective writing were provided along with mentoring on aligning objectives with course assessments to assist with this process. In the summer of 2019, the annual course review process was implemented in part to maintain momentum in the curriculum review and mapping.
Teaching resources have been developed including a Canvas™ site repository of resources for teaching, assessment, and curriculum practices, and instructional period briefs intended to raise awareness about our curriculum and foster collaboration and cooperation across courses and instructional periods have been developed. A veterinary specific course has been developed for inclusion in the main campus college teaching graduate certificate. Faculty support for attending local, national, and international teaching conferences has been provided. Expanding on these resources forms the basis for the new Objective 2 in the revised strategic plan.
Objectives 2 and 3 from the Vision 2020 plan relate to student clinical experience and skills, and to career ready skills such as communication and business needed for success in the veterinary profession. Progress has been made in multiple areas, but we envision further improvements in teaching, assessment, and documentation of outcomes. The Veterinary Health Center caseload has increased and now provides broader clinical exposure. Clinical orientation will be expanded to one week starting with the class of 2023 with the goals of increasing student preparation and communication skills. Shelter medicine has been expanded and a wide variety of off-campus preceptorships have been made available both in private and non-private practice settings. The Associate Dean of Student and Academic Affairs has developed, maintained, and monitored these preceptorship opportunities.
Significant progress has been made in the teaching and assessment of communication skills by use of the medical school simulation center in the freshman year, elective courses, and in clinical orientation. However, more space in the curriculum must be allocated for these and other professional skills.
With the development of the clinical skills simulation lab, more classes will be able to integrate skills and skills assessment into their courses. The remodeling of W234 for this purpose is to begin in Spring 2020
Many of the goals not accomplished in Strategic Goal # 1 of the Vision 2020 plan were due to lack of physical and financial resources. The revised strategic plan’s Objective 3 focuses resources on needed physical renovations, support for on-going curricular improvements necessitated by AVMA COE requirements, and continued support of teaching excellence.
Figure 1 – Dendrogram detailing information and data considered in revising the Teach theme of Vision 2020 plan.
Heal – The Heal theme was developed from the Clinical and Diagnostic Services subcommittee theme in the Vision 2020 plan. Strategic Goal #3 in the Vision 2020 plan articulated the objectives and actions developed by the Clinical and Diagnostic Services subcommittee. In the Beyond Vision 2020 plan, the Heal theme and Strategic Goal #2 encompass the objectives and actions planned for the clinical and diagnostic service attributes of the College.
Accomplishments in this arena during the past 7 years have been considerable. The VHC and VMDL have both increased gross revenues, and mechanisms were put in place to track revenue by clinical and diagnostic section. Tracking revenue and expenditures was the highest priority objective under this theme in Vision 2020, and whilst still part of the strategic plan has been given a lower priority in the current revision.
Enhanced customer service and accountability within the VHC and VMDL were a focus in Vision 2020, and external feedback suggests we have made improvements over the last 7 years. Going forward we have revised this objective and focused on professional development of all personnel as part of this objective.
Objective 3 in Vision 2020 was focused on investing in people, technology and equipment. We have expanded on this objective in the revised plan by including facilities, in part because we have been successful at growing revenues and caseload in both the VHC and VMDL, but this has led to overcrowded and inadequate facilities to meet current clinical and diagnostic needs. Hence, this has risen to our highest priority under this goal.
Marketing and expansion of services was a major objective in Vision 2020, and efforts over the last 7 years seem to have paid dividends through increased revenues and caseload. That said, ongoing efforts are needed to maintain competitiveness and hence this remains an important part of the revised plan. New business development is important to any enterprise not only to improve revenue but also, in our case, to provide the necessary caseload for teaching the next generation of professionals. The VHC and VMDL have been innovative in attracting revenue and indirect cost through clinical trials and fee-for-service research and testing for outside entities, and we have proposed further mechanisms for such development in Objective 5 of this goal in the revised plan.
Discover – While progress was made toward achieving some of the objectives outlined in the Vision 2020 Strategic Goal #2, the original goal that addressed research and innovation, it was the view of the Discover theme subcommittee that many of the actions proposed under each of the three objectives in the Vision 2020 Strategic Goal #2 were not specifically accomplished.
The Discover theme is listed as Strategic Goal #3 in the revised plan. The objectives and actions have been revised to suit the current needs of the College, Missouri, and Society in general. The three revised objectives listed according to priority are: 1) Build a strong research environment and provide the tools to support research success, 2) Bolster graduate and postdoctoral training programs to benefit trainees and elevate the reputation of CVM research, and 3) Enrich the nationally and internationally ranked research presence of the College.
The new Objective 3 builds on the original Objective 1. The MU CVM is home to several National centers which have continued to achieve Federal funding, and MU CVM faculty members are Nationally and Internationally recognized in several areas of expertise under the One Health umbrella.
Objective 2 in the original plan was to “Facilitate commercial research contracts that generate further investigative opportunity and additional sources of revenue.” The CVM has had success in this regard, especially in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery where several clinical services including Medicine, Oncology, and Food Animal continue to perform clinical trials and fee-for-service research. Further, several CVM faculty members from across the Departments have licensed their innovations and developed start-up companies.
Objective 3 in the original plan was to “Support faculty in establishing and maintaining solid research programs.” While faculty development opportunities in the research arena have emerged over the last 7 years, this is an area of focus in the new strategic plan as more can be done for both faculty development and the development of the next generation of scientists graduating from the CVM. Current trainee development programs tend to be area specific with some excellent programs, but there is a lack of College-level resources to support faculty and trainee development. This is addressed in the revised plan by prioritizing resources and tools to support research success and bolster graduate and postdoctoral training programs.
Serve – An integral part of Vision 2020, Strategic Goal #4 was designed to “develop innovative partnerships and nurture economic opportunities.” In keeping with main campus’ goals and integrating internal feedback, Strategic Goal #4 has been revised and updated to guide the CVM in better serving its internal and external stakeholders over the next three years.
The original first objective was to establish endowments for specific programs within the CVM. While the advancement team has made significant progress in establishing endowments to help our College in trying economic times, most of the endowments are for student support, and we have not made significant progress toward funding specific programs. This objective has been revised to include all philanthropic resources (not just endowments) and repackaged as Objective 4 in Beyond Vision 2020.
The original second objective was to foster a culture of entrepreneurship, primarily among faculty. The University has become more supportive of privatization of faculty discoveries, and several CVM faculty members are in various stages of commercializing innovations. However, these activities are not included in the formal evaluation of faculty members. Similarly, the original fourth objective was to cultivate and track existing faculty relationships with corporations for economic benefit. However, no progress was made on tracking these relationships or developing major strategic cooperative relationships with industry. The CVM continues to interface regularly with and derive benefit from corporations and other private sector groups with veterinary interests, and is actively looking for opportunities to collaborate with industry in basic and applied research, as well as clinical trials. To account for these ongoing activities, which frequently go hand-in-hand, the original objectives two and four have been combined into Objective 3 with the language updated to facilitate more collaborations with government agencies as well as other Departments within the University system.
The third objective was to explore the potential for a Midwestern Center of Excellence for veterinary education, leadership, and business management. While the CVM remains engaged in the Kansas City animal health corridor, this objective has been removed from the revised plan, since no progress has been made toward the development of this Center of Excellence.
The fifth and final objective was to market the profession and the CVM to the public and key stakeholders. To this end, several personnel were added in communications and marketing, Facebook pages were established, and the VHC/VMDL websites were revised and updated. Additionally, CE events have been hosted regularly both at the CVM and at regional VMA meetings, and CVM faculty routinely present at these functions. Student groups, such as the Mule Club and Raptor Rehab, continue to present the CVM in a positive light. The marketing objective was updated and appears as Objective 2 in the present plan.
Notably absent from Vision 2020 was a specific engagement and outreach initiative that was separate from the marketing objective. Increasing stakeholder awareness through engagement and outreach complements marketing and advancement and facilitates the CVM’s ability to serve its stakeholders. Therefore, an objective focusing on strategic and inclusive expansion of the CVM’s engagement and outreach efforts has been added and marked as a priority objective in the Beyond Vision 2020 plan.