At many colleges and universities, the annual State of the University address is a chance to reflect on the achievements of the prior year. In his 2021 address to the Central Michigan University community, President Bob Davies took a different approach, instead focusing on his vision for the years ahead.
"After all," he said, "we will never again return to life as we knew it before this pandemic."
Davies addressed students, faculty, staff, alumni and other stakeholders via livestream from the fourth floor of CMU's Park Library. A recording of the livestream is available on the Office of the President webpage.
After acknowledging several of the university's strengths, including CMU's emphasis on leadership and hands-on learning, Davies shared an update on the Strategic Envisioning Process. He also outlined a series of aggressive goals and strategies designed to propel CMU to success this year and in the years ahead.
Although the Strategic Envisioning Process was designed to position CMU for success in 2030 and beyond, Davies said the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the timeline. Working groups are developing and testing strategies around five strategic pathways in an iterative and collaborative process, he said.
President Davies delivers the State of the University address via livestream from CMU's Park Library.
"It is important to note that these pathways are not distinct or separate from one another — they overlap and intersect often," Davies said. "Initiatives launched by one group will necessarily and intentionally impact the others."
Guided by the pathways, Davies said university leaders have developed a set of three inspirational and aspirational "moonshot" goals to work toward:
- Establish and embrace the unique CMU identity and market position.
- Significantly increase and equalize degree attainment.
- Extend the reach of CMU, serving students at every stage of their educational, career and life journeys.
To achieve these transformational goals, Davies said the university also would focus efforts on the following strategies:
- Encouraging university-wide interdisciplinarity, leveraging the knowledge and resources of all disciplines to address real-world challenges.
- Identifying and promoting programs of excellence while meeting the needs of CMU's many stakeholders.
- Fostering a culture of lifelong learning.
Above all else, Davies said CMU must continue to ensure student success remains at the forefront of all efforts.
"We must be willing to closely examine every policy and every practice to see if they are truly student-centered. We must be willing to make changes if and when we discover they are not," he said.
The purpose of all these efforts is to guide the university toward a successful future in spite of the many challenges facing higher education, Davies said. By pursuing these goals, he said CMU will be recognized nationally for excellence in teaching and research; achieve steady, predictable growth in enrollment; provide outstanding programs that meet the needs of university stakeholders; and ensure a sound and sustainable financial future.
Davies closed by acknowledging the difficulties of the past year and expressing his confidence in the capacity of the CMU community to achieve transformational change.
"This will not be an easy venture, but I believe it will be an exciting journey."