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Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning—2019-23

Work toward Otis College's next Strategic Plan for the period 2019-23 began early, within the third year of the five-year Working Strategic Plan. A review of the Working Strategic Plan’s Progress Summary shows that Otis College has advanced well in recent years, with most of the Plan's five SMART Goals (Simple, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely), 25 Objectives, and 92 Strategies having been Accomplished; 15 being In Good Progress; and 2 remaining To Be Completed. This is without precedent at the College, and is an extraordinary indication of the full community involvement, commitment, and determination the Plan has enjoyed—from the faculty through the staff, students, administrators, and trustees.

With the Board's approval in 2014 of the Working Strategic Plan, it was known that the then President would soon relocate out of state, and an interim Presidency and a search for a new President would soon follow. The Board, interim President, and College leadership wanted at that time to make room for the new President to review the Working Strategic Plan and revise, as needed.

Since the arrival of President Ferguson, the Working Strategic Plan has served well, and most of its objectives either have been met or are in good progress toward completion. The President, along with the Provost and senior leadership team, have monitored the plan’s progress and, based on the extensive progress to-date, a process and timeline for a new strategic plan has formed to guide the college through the next five years.

This process will build upon the considerable input gathering, needs assessment, and synthesis that had informed the Working Strategic Plan. Planning communications, community engagement activities, and input gathering are all progressing, as follows:

  • Summer ’17:  Develop a comprehensive Progress Summary for the Working Strategic Plan; note any objectives or strategies that might carry forward, and any potential new ones inspired by past progress
  • Fall ’17:  Form a Strategic Planning Taskforce to guide and inform the forward planning process; message the campus community about the process and timeline for the new Plan
  • Spring / Summer ‘18:  The President will present a Context Statement to kickoff the forward planning process
    • Committees, groups, and forums will convene to provide input on planning themes and priorities
    • The input gathering process will go deeper via survey instruments to ensure broad community feedback
    • All input will be synthesized toward a proposed new Five-Year Plan Outline, to be shared for further feedback from the community
  • Fall ‘18:  A 2019-23 Strategic Plan Draft will be created and shared
  • Spring '19:  The Plan Draft to be presented to the Board of Trustees, and revised as needed, for approval.

Community Input

The 2019-23 Strategic Plan will be deeply guided by the input and community feedback processes undertaken toward the Working Strategic Plan, and by new input gathered through numerous scheduled Meetings and Events, as well as survey research involving all College stakeholders. Three large group forums convened in February, 2018: a Student Forum, the Academic Assembly, and a Town Hall. Each focused on institutional core values to inform a review and revision of the College's Mission.

town hall

A list of Themes and Priorities formally introduced to the College community through recent strategic planning memos, the President's Context Statement, and the Working Strategic Plan Progress Summary chronicles key topics and issues identified through the input gathering process.

Synthesis of the input gathered through numerous meetings and events will allow review, augmentation, and--importantly--prioritization of ideas and needs from all corners of the College through a comprehensive survey, which collected over several weeks campus community feedback.

Quantitative and qualitative data from the community survey, along with the input gathering archive, itself, will inform the strategic plan Outline.


The new strategic planning process, launched in January 2018, involves all campus stakeholders and is guided and informed by at Strategic Planning Steering Committee, consisting of:

   Mei-Lee Ney—Trustee
   Kirk Hyde—Trustee
   Bruce Ferguson—President
   Randall Lavender—Provost
   Karen Hill—VP Human Resources and Development
   Debra Ballard—Chair of LAS and Associate Provost for Assessment and Accreditation
   Sue Maberry—Senior Director of Library and Learning Centers
   Angila L. Romious—Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness
   Peter Gadol—Chair of MFA Writing and Senior Co-Chair, Academic Assembly
   Andrew Plakos—Professor of Toy Design, Senior Co-Chair, Faculty Senate
   Three Student Voice Association representatives

In preparation for a highly participatory planning process, the President and Senior Team articulated four primary themes to promote discussion, with the understanding that the Otis College Centennial and numerous related events will serve to focus further strategic thinking and additional planning activity. The primary themes include:

  • A review and revision of Otis College’s mission statement to sustain a community with shared core values.
  • An expansion of volunteer leadership—Trustees, Governors, Fashion Council, Friends of the Gallery, the Group, Alumni, etc.
  • Ensuring diversity of visible and other minorities, particularly in the faculty ranks, to maintain relevance as a pedagogical institution
  • A significantly prioritized and intentional budget that allows the development of new, sustainable revenue streams to partially relieve tuition dependency. This would include an increased general endowment and specific endowments (focused on certain purposes); offerings, and new academic programs/initiatives to include accelerated degree programming for working adults, new majors and/or curricular areas of emphasis at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and international presences of fitting programs.

The President's Context Statement includes these themes, frames a number of others priorities and raises additional key questions for the college community's consideration.

2019-23 Strategic Planning Documents
WSP Progress Summary
Strategic Planning Memo 1 - Looking Forward
Meetings and Events
Strategic Planning Memo 2 - Setting the Stage
President's Context Statement
Themes and Priorities to-date
Strategic Planning Memo 3 - Input Gathering and Prioritization


The Working Strategic Plan

The Working Strategic Plan (2015-19) was approved by the Board of Trustees on December 8, 2014.  

2014-19 Strategic Planning Process

In 2018, Otis will celebrate 100 years of excellence in art and design education. During the 2013-14 academic year, the College embarked on a year-long, highly participatory process to create a new Strategic Plan, which will guide the College through the Otis Centennial Celebration and beyond, from Fall 2014 through Spring 2019. 

The Strategic Plan for 2014-19 will serve as a follow-up to the successful 2010-13 Strategic Bridge Plan (SBP), which was designed to focus attention on a group of top College priorities within a brief three-year timeframe. The 2014-19 Strategic Plan will include ongoing objectives launched from the SBP—including faculty and student workload, multi-year faculty and staff compensation plans, assessment of the new Institutional Learning Outcomes, and others—as well as new areas of strategic importance, to be developed by the entire Otis Community.

The strategic planning process has already engaged a wide range of Otis stakeholders, including internal constituencies (faculty, staff, and students) and external constituencies (Otis trustees and governors, alumni, key industry leaders). Most planning work has been, and will continue to be, incorporated into existing committees and working groups so that campus members can be engaged widely and organically.

The strategic planning effort was launched in early Fall 2013 and then continued through early Spring 2014, when it was temporarily put on hold while the College attended to the departure of the president.  The planning effort was renewed in Summer 2014, with the goal of completing a five-year Working Strategic Plan by the end of Fall 2014, in accordance with the original timeline.  Once a new president is on board, he or she will have the opportunity to continue the planning process and develop a finalized Strategic Plan, to be submitted for Board approval sometime in 2015-16.  This solution will allow the College to be guided by a plan during the interim leadership period, while giving the new president a chance to shape the final result.  It will also enable Otis to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Planning Timeline

The strategic planning process has five phases:


Phase 1:  Setting the Stage

President Samuel Hoi set the stage for the strategic planning process in a State of the College Address on August 21, 2013, at a convening of all faculty and staff.  He provided a holistic definition of Otis success and laid out seven Strategic Pathways for Otis’ next phase of development.  The seven Strategic Pathways are interrelated and interdependent.  Each one drives the others, and together they lead to the mission-centric, externally recognized, and sustainable college that we envision. 


A Guide for Strategic Planning

To help the campus community prepare for meaningful participation in the strategic planning process, a planning guide entitled "Mapping the Future: The Otis Centennial and Beyond" has been developed and widely distributed. It provides succinct descriptions of the seven Strategic Pathways.

Phase 2:  Kick-Off

Faculty and staff convened on November 14th and 20th, 2013, to launch planning efforts through open discussion of the strategic pathways and brainstorming exercises that provided input for the plan.

forum one

President Samuel Hoi welcomed all to Forum #1

fourm 1 activity

Faculty and Staff brainstormed at Forum #1

forum 2

Provost Kerry Walk led an exercise at Forum #2

forum 2 activity

31 groups shared "hot ideas" at Forum #2