These institutions are a promise made to the community of excellent teaching. They have been created in order to help the students in the process of their professional development. Thus, their values should comprise the following notions:
Competency is the feature that all the professors must possess in order to influence their students. As a result, if a professor is not competent in his domain, he will never be able to offer the best education experience to its students. In addition to that, equality of chances must be given to all the students. If a professor discriminates within his scholars, he is liable for the lost interest in the subject of the persons discriminated. Besides, the institution must prove its integrity. Consequently, the professors must do their jobs without letting themselves influenced by other suppressing factors.
The values mentioned above are only a slight part of all the values which must be comprised within a higher education institution. They must be clearly expressed because they represent a guiding force in the development / revision of the mission and vision.
Goals are set in accordance to the institution's plans for the future. "By definition [they] are "Outcome statements that define what an organization is trying to accomplish both programmatically and organizationally." Goals are usually:
collection of related programs reflection of the major action of the organization rallying point for chairmen" (Strategic Planning- Goals vs. Objectives)
At the beginning of its activity, an institution has some ideas about what it seeks to achieve. In fact, it expects to be successful. However, the desire to be successful is not a goal. Therefore, in order to accomplish its desire, the organization must establish clear ideas about its future development. These major focuses are called goals.
In order to develop the most adequate goals, the institution must also take into consideration its mission, vision and values. They act as a framework for the goal-establishment process. The goals embody all these relevant matters that are related to the company's activity.
As a conclusion, goals represent why an institution will perform its activity, what it seeks to achieve. In addition to the goals, we must mention the objectives, which show how the organization is going to carry out its activity.
VI. Objectives- means of achieving goals
By definition objectives are described as being very precise, time-based, and measurable actions that support the completion of a goal. Objectives must: relate directly to the goal; be clear, concise, and understandable; be stated in terms of results; begin with an action verb; specify a date for accomplishment; be measurable; must deal with a major subject" (Strategic Planning- Goals vs. Objectives). As a result, the objectives must be SMART, meaning: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.
The objectives must be measured after a certain period of time so as to establish if they have been achieved or if they have to be modified in order to lead to a better accomplishment of the goals. It is possible for the objectives to have been set in an incorrect manner and for them not to accurately concord with the goals.
VII. The importance of all the components of a strategic plan
When we refer to a strategic plan, we cannot abolish any of the following aspects: mission, vision, values, goals and objectives. They are all vital parts of a successful plan and must be treated accordingly to their importance.
An academic institution has the primary function to provide the means for professional development for its students. As academies represent higher education institutions, they target people with an above average professional intelligence, people who are seeking to develop their skills. However, there are various institutions centered on the same type of activity. In this domain, it is harder to differentiate between institutions. Yet, the prestige of the academies has a great weight in the prospective students' choices.
The reputation of a higher education institution can be created by putting forward a clear and precise strategic plan which covers all the essential aspects. The mission is to provide excellence in teaching and support services. Besides the material basis (laboratories and other facilities), of great importance is the attitude of the professors towards their students. They should promote a high standard of quality, outstanding knowledge in their domains and great teaching skills. A strong set of values should be maintained in the educational process.
VIII. Examining a set of academic institutions
California University of Pennsylvania. "This plan, Strategic Plan 2005, was formally adopted by the California University of Pennsylvania Council of Trustees at its March 2005 meeting following a year of study by the University Forum and key committees, as well as individual members of the University community" (California University of Pennsylvania web site). It regards a period of three to five years and it has been developed after a long and serious process. This process began in June 2004 by an initial draft based on the University Mission Statement and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Strategic Plan. The present plan was chosen between six drafts of the document.
The mission consists of "Building Character and Careers." The University "is a diverse caring and scholarly learning community dedicated to excellence in the liberal arts, science and technology, and professional studies that is devoted to building character and careers, broadly defined" (California University of Pennsylvania web site). Its vision can be resumed in "be recognized as the best comprehensive public university in America." Some of the aspects resulting from this vision are the following: "offer an exceptional, one-of-a-kind character and career-building experience; define career-building broadly to include life-wide (multiple life roles) and life-long (legacy) aspects; recruit and retain a distinguished faculty who challenge and mentor students to attain their fullest potential; maintain a learning community known for its academic excellence, intellectual rigor, and civil discourse; instill not just learning but the love of learning; incorporate continuous improvement into all programs and activities to ensure competitive excellence" (California University of Pennsylvania web site).
The values which are promoted inside the university were adopted in July 22nd, 1998 and comprise the following: Integrity, Civility and Responsibility. In order to sustain the mission statement, the university has focused on three goals: student achievement and success, institutional excellence, and community service. The established objectives are several, from which we can mention: "to provide a liberal education, which aims at developing analytical thinking and individual initiative and responsibility; to provide flexible, innovative programs and support services that are responsive to a broad range of student and regional needs; to provide a professional faculty and an effective administration; to create and maintain a learning environment in which the rights of all are respected; to provide a wide range of learning opportunities for students interested in associate, baccalaureate, graduate, and non-degree programs" (California University of Pennsylvania web site);
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Its mission statement is "to create and share knowledge by providing access to education and learning experiences for the academic, cultural and personal growth of the students and the larger community we serve" (Edinboro University web site). In addition to that, its vision statement refers to the "strive to meet the ever-changing needs of the world around us by providing access to our institution for the benefit of all. We provide research, community services, and educational programs in accordance with the social, cultural, economic and technical needs of the region and Commonwealth. The University meets the specific needs of underrepresented groups, students with disabilities, and those faced with social or economic hardship or inadequate educational preparation" (Edinboro University web site). The values on which the university conducts its activities are: non-discrimination, collaboration, openness, honesty, respect, integrity, fairness, social justice, diversity, civility, creativity and innovation.
As goals, Edinboro has established four divisions: Academics (e.g.: Enhance quality academics; emphasize research, scholarship, and creativity; promote graduate education), Students (recruit, retain, and graduate talented students; enhance success for all students; nurture a learning environment that is just, civil, diverse, and student centered; enhance services for non-traditional students), Revenue Enhancement (enhance extramural funding; promote grantsmanship; enhance community/corporate alliances; refine marketing efforts to accomplish academic and community goals) and Community (meet the specific needs of diverse groups, including the underrepresented and the under-prepared; contribute to the economic and social development of the region; strengthen continuing education programs). In order to accomplish all of these goals, the university has devised proper objectives, adapted to each goal. As an example, we can mention the objectives related to the first goal of enhancing quality academics: "pursue accreditation in targeted academic programs by 2009; create/implement an electronic NCATE Assessment System; highlight academic excellence and our programmatic offerings; convert temporary faculty positions into tenure-track positions where warranted by enrollment trends and program development; renumber courses across the disciplines to better reflect curricular level" (Edinboro University web site).
Duquesne University. This university's strategic plan covers the period between 2003 -2008 and it bears as mission statement the following…