Outside of Ohio Northern’s observatory lies an old sign, with one side no longer bearing any markings (Northern Review/Gabriel Mott)

In an email sent to the student-l earlier this year, President Melissa Baumann shared to the student body a copy of Ohio Northern’s recently unveiled “Strategic Plan,” which aims to outline the goals and mission of the university for the next six years. This is not to be confused with the “campus master plan,” an often-cited yet rarely-understood document which is still in active development. A brief synopsis of the major points of the strategic plan, as well as their significance to the average student, follows.

What is the Strategic Plan?

The strategic plan is meant to inform current students, prospective students, alumni and donors which direction the university plans on heading in the future.

  • The strategic plan identifies areas of focus for the university’s improvement efforts.
  • The strategic plan does NOT include figures or dates for projects.
  • The strategic plan is liable to change in the future.

How was the Strategic Plan developed?

The Office of the President has indicated a strong desire to receive student input in developing the strategic plan, but has placed a slight quantitative majority on administrative and faculty input.

  • Two “World Café” events were held, open exclusively to staff and faculty, who were directed between stations in the Mac Ballroom, each concerning a proposition about ONU’s future.
  • Focus groups were conducted with faculty councils, student advisory boards, Student Senate and the President’s cabinet, among others.
  • A task force was assigned to each of the four established pillars of the plan, who drafted their respective sections.
  • The final plan was ratified by the board of trustees.

What does the Strategic Plan say?

The strategic plan includes four “pillars” of focus–People, Teaching and Learning, Place, and Sustainability, each of which has been assigned three “objectives.” Most objectives constitute a reaffirmation of existing university goals (i.e. Ohio Northern will provide a high value experience for students), but a few refine the university’s intentions from the ambiguity the student body has previously been given.

  • Kinghorn Sports Center will be renovated and expanded, both for academic and recreational facilities.
    • The resources available for campus improvement are finite, and renovation of any one portion of campus may invlove limiting the improvements of others. Other potential subjects of improvement, per President Baumann, include the Meyer Science Annex and Hill Memorial building.
  • Virtual and Hybrid class options will be developed.
    • These plans are contingent on a partial re-engineering of Information Technology’s infrastructure.
    • This may also correlate with an expansion of the existing Summer and J-Term programs.
  • ONU will seek to expand students’ access to experiential learning.
    • This will include an increase in grant money for research and increased student employment opportunities.
    • This also coincides with Ohio Northern’s attempt to increase connectedness to employers and graduate schools
  • The ONU Master Plan will be revised.
    • This will include quantifiable targets, such as quotes from architects and opinions from other experts in the fields of university management.
    • The university will seek student input into the master plan.
    • The master plan will reflect the methods and priorities of the strategic plan.

Will the Strategic Plan affect me?

Individual student impact will be variable. Although there are compounding factors, most areas of focus in the strategic plan pertain to the experiences of the general student body.

  • Changes in funding, such as internship or work study opportunities, could be relatively immediate. All infrastructural changes will likely take the course of years to plan and execute.
  • The strategic plan is non-binding, and any number of circumstantial developments may change the university’s course of action. It does provide an indication of administration’s current priorities.

By Gabriel Mott

News Editor, Award-Winning Satirical Columnist, Writer

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