Welcome to 2020. We are making significant progress on the USD Strategic Plan. As we mentioned in the last update, this process has five phases. 

Phase III was to make sense of the input we received from you during our engagement sessions. The Sensemaking Day on Oct. 7 brought together input from thousands of stakeholders. Leading up to that day, we met with over 70 groups to get input on the direction for USD. After hearing from all the groups, there were six themes that emerged:

  • Academic Excellence
  • Affordability
  • Communication
  • Diversity
  • Facilities and Infrastructure
  • Serving South Dakota

At the end of the day, we gave the task force members a homework assignment. Each of the six themes needed a concept paper about the topic. It needed to include all of the subtopics that came out of the stakeholder groups. The paper needed to provide enough background and context to support a discussion of how we could make progress on that theme. We also asked them to write a paper shorter than five pages - not an easy task.

We gave the teams two months to work, and we held the Vision Conference on Dec. 13 to kick off Phase IV. This day-long session brought together the task force members and an additional 25 people. The group included campus faculty and staff, deans, Vermillion community members, alumni, local business owners, Sioux Falls community members, a representative from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and the South Dakota Secretary of Education. 

The purpose of the Vision Conference was to build on the concept papers and create a preferred future for USD. Working in continuously integrating groups, we drafted five sets of the future of USD which included all of the strategic themes. The co-chairs are currently working to integrate all of those futures into a vision statement. This statement will be aspirational and serve as a guidepost for making actionable goals in the strategic plan. We will be seeking feedback from stakeholders on this vision statement during the first two months of this year. The last phase will be the Goals Conference on March 6 where we take the vision statement and determine how to implement it. 

Our process for this strategic plan has been collaborative and thorough. Thank you for participating and helping to shape the future of USD. 

Go Yotes!

Kathryn Birkeland 
Co-Chair