Shortly after the announcement of the U.S. Department of Labor’s WIRED initiative (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development), visionary leaders at New Jersey’s Cumberland County College contacted us with questions about it, regional economic development, and the workforce role. The College’s then President, Dr. Ken Ender, wondered aloud if the same principles embodied by WIRED’s collaborative regional planning process made sense for planning the future of Cumberland as an institution.
Using Dr. Ender’s leadership as a guide, we developed a community-based process to tackling the strategic planning process at Cumberland. At its core, the process brought together a wide array of leaders from both inside and outside the college community to think about the needs of community stakeholders (such as employers, students, K-12 and four-year institutions) as priorities were established by college planners.
The result was a transformational plan for Cumberland, and a Community-Centered Strategic Planning Process™ that we have now used successfully at many other institutions across the United States to broaden the view of college planners, engage the broader college community as “stockholders” in the institutions success and drive measureable change.
Today, the original planning process used at Cumberland has been updated and modified to align to national policy initiatives and calls for innovation, such as those articulated in “Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future” from the American Association of Community Colleges. Our Community-Centered Strategic Planning Process™ is fast becoming known for its ability to drive transformation and engagement in college planning process, and more – to establish forward-thinking community colleges at the center of community leadership in preparing not just students, but entire communities, for a more prosperous future.