Strategic Planning Process

Planning Process 2019-2020 and Strategic Plan 2015-2020


Inclusivity; the planning process should engage all members of the Fitchburg State community, affording all the opportunity to provide input and feel vested in the outcome. 
Transparency (communication); planning will not take place under veil of secrecy!

Taking a broad (vs. local, parochial) view:  determining goals and setting priorities based on what’s deemed best for the University as a whole rather than what’s best for me, my program, my department, my division

Consensus decision making; not every decision will be 100% supported by 100% of folks at the table.

Respect – for shared governance, for differing viewpoints, for process, for confidentiality

October 10, 2019

Dear Faculty, Librarians, Staff, Students, and Alumni,

Fitchburg State’s most recent strategic plan has provided a roadmap for the last 4+ years, and during this period the University has made great progress. Now it is time for us to engage as a community in a new round of strategic planning for the future of Fitchburg State. 

As we begin the strategic planning process, we are fortunate to be able to do so with positive momentum. I am excited and optimistic for the future. Strategic planning will provide an opportunity to identify shared hopes and common concerns about the future and to develop a shared vision for our university. Together we will reflect on past progress and evaluate how goals and strategies should evolve to address the challenges and opportunities we face today as a community of learning, an anchor institution in Fitchburg, and a regional university in the Commonwealth’s system of public higher education. 

Our planning process will be data-driven, comprehensive and above all inclusive. I expect to present a draft five-year strategic plan to the Fitchburg State Board of Trustees in May 2020 and, with the trustees’ approval, to the Board of Higher Education in Fall 2020. It will be a comprehensive plan that has been carefully vetted within the Fitchburg State community, integrates with other planning efforts underway on campus this year, aligns with the University’s long-range financial plan, and responds to priorities established by the DHE.

The process will be facilitated and guided by a steering committee whose members represent all key stakeholder groups. The steering committee will be charged with preparing and recommending a plan that will help us achieve a widely shared vision for the University in 2025. The five thematic committees established at the end of our last academic year will be tightly integrated into the overall planning process and play a critical role as a source of issue-focused diagnostics and recommendations.

The work of the committees will be guided and facilitated by consultant Linda Campanella of SOS Consulting Group LLC, working in close consultation with the Executive Cabinet and Pamela McCafferty, assistant vice president for institutional research and planning. Linda, who was with us on Opening Day, is a graduate of Amherst College and former chief operating officer at another liberal arts college, Trinity in Hartford. She has many years of experience with strategic planning and working with higher education clients, including four others within the Massachusetts State University System.

The strategic planning steering committee and Linda will endeavor to keep the campus community not only engaged but also informed of progress throughout the coming year. Please visit the website dedicated to strategic planning for periodic updates and opportunities (surveys, open forums, focus groups, online discussions, etc.) to share your views. You also may share input at any time by sending email to the Steering Committee:

Thank you for all you do to make Fitchburg State a strong and distinctive institution, and thank you in advance for your participation in and contributions to the strategic planning process.


Richard S. Lapidus' signature

Richard S. Lapidus, Ph.D.

Below is a tentative schedule of opportunities for members of the Fitchburg State community to engage in the planning process. Others likely will be added as the process evolves. Please check the Announcements and Updates link for the most up-to-date/current information about specific opportunities to provide input and otherwise be involved.

Description Date
Opening Day kick-off with opportunity to submit thoughts about what Fitchburg State needs to flaunt and/or fix September 3
Invitation from President Lapidus to all faculty and staff to share input via anonymous online survey October 10
Survey key groups re: critical issues, opportunities, and goals October/November
Dialogue with Alumni Association November 14
Community forums on current strategic plan and current environment early December TBA
Outreach to external stakeholders (elected officials, other key city/community leaders and partners) by mid-December
Briefing/consultations with key leadership groups before winter break
Consultations with constituent groups (e.g., faculty, AUC) to get feedback on “Framework for Planning” document (vision statement, goals to underpin strategic plan) early February
All-campus open forum – facilitated brainstorming around key institutional goals and critical issues (to generate ideas/fodder for planning task forces); all constituencies invited mid February
Consultations/discussions with key campus groups, convened by task forces focused on strategic plan goals March
First draft of comprehensive strategic plan document (mission, values, vision, goals, strategies and actions in support of each goal) by mid April
Draft plan disseminated to the campus community and trustees late April
Possible all-campus meeting to seek feedback on strategies and input on priorities early May
Alumni Board update April 9
Final draft integrated plan prepared with accompanying financial analysis and vetted with President, Executive Cabinet, and then the BHE for Touchpoint II Late April/early May
Draft plan shared at Development Day for faculty May 19
Draft plan mailed to the Board with cover memo from President Lapidus late May
Board meeting June 2

You may contact the Strategic Planning Steering Committee at

Planning Process Flow

September–December January–May June–August
What? How? How Much and What First?
  • Assessment
  • Visioning
  • Goal Setting
  • Strategy development
  • Action planning
  • Plan formulation
  • Cost analysis and resource planning
  • Priority setting
  • Plan finalization
  • Fundraising goal setting