Beginning in Fall 2017 the University launched an extensive program of data gathering, analysis and consultation which resulted in PROJECT SOAR. This journey helped us understand our history, values, and accomplishments; our place in higher education in the state, region, and nation; and the ways we have been successful in moving the University from its inception more than 110 years ago to today. With advice and assistance of an external consultant, this process included:
- A review of the 2011 strategic plan and our signature accomplishments under it;
- An analysis of findings and recommendations from our 2016 successful Middle States Commission of Higher Education accreditation (MSCHE) report and study;
- A thorough environmental scan of relevant demographic predictors, labor market projections, technology developments in classroom instruction and program delivery modes (including active learning, low-residency, partially online and fully online programs), comparative degree production data among New Jersey institutions, and State funding expectations, all of which contributed to an understanding of the University’s market position;
- Two summit discussions with campus leadership, including faculty, staff, administrators and students;
- A SWOT analysis based on input from more than 550 University community members;
- Three presentations to and discussions with the Board of Trustees;
- Many dynamic conversations and extended working sessions by the Committee on University Effectiveness (CUE) and five Design Teams charged with shaping key success outcomes and strategies;
- Two public fora to which the University community were invited for open discussion of the draft plan;
- An extensive benchmarking study and comparison of universities through which 11 universities were identified that reflected significant achievements in areas of interest to Montclair State’s growth.
This dynamic and comprehensive process was inclusive of the full University community, and it modeled the values we expect to cultivate in our University culture and in our students. The process enabled a rich and broad reflection of the pathway of change that has brought us to the current day.