Meaningful Inclusion of Students in University Strategic Planning

By Paula Cook MacKinnon and Jennifer Wilson.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Successful post-secondary institutions develop strategic plans to guide their progress and to focus their activities. This presentation will examine the strategic planning processes commonly used in universities and the degree to which they engage students. Effective strategic plans must be “of” the students and “for” the students. In an environment where student expectations are growing and student empowerment is assumed, it is critical to include significant student input in the strategic planning process. A strategic plan that does not include student input and a degree of student ownership will, in all likelihood, be exceedingly difficult to implement. Further, enlightened universities can use strategic planning to enhance students’ education and by extension there holistic development. This article will use as an example the development of the strategic plan for student affairs at Acadia University, a small, primarily undergraduate university in Nova Scotia, Canada. It will focus on the planning roles undertaken by the student affairs staff and by the student leadership. It will outline the invaluable contribution that arose from student consultation and will describe the initial implementation of the plan.

Keywords: Strategic Planning, Student Affairs, University Administration, Planning

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 1, Issue 5, pp.41-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 564.667KB).

Paula Cook MacKinnon

Higher Education Consultant, MindBloom Consulting, Lunenburg, Canada

Paula Cook MacKinnon is the former Vice-President Student Affairs at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. In a university career that spanned nearly two decades, she has held administrative responsibility for student recruitment, student retention, admissions, campus programs, helath services,registrar, counselling and athletics.

Ms. Jennifer Wilson

Student Representative, Acadia University, Sackville, Canada

Jennifer Wilson has earned Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science degrees from Acadia University. With an avid interested in environmental stewardship, it is Ms. Wilson’s goal to have a career which combines her business background with her passion for preservation. An active student leader at Acadia, Ms. Wilson is the former Vice-President Student Affairs of the Acadia Students’ Union. She was the founder of the first Equestrian Team at Acadia, a varsity cross country runner and residence assistant. During the summer of 2007, Ms. Wilson travelled to northern Ghana where she worked on a documentary about the socio-cultural barriers to the education of girls.

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