A strategic plan is like a map. The process of developing the map is the process of considering all the directions the College could go, but in the end, the map conveys our decision of where we will go. In September 2016, Pikes Peak Community College began the process of developing the five-year strategic plan that will guide us forward over the next five years. This is our Destination 2022.
The Planning Process
All of the planning meetings were prepared and facilitated by a higher educational strategy consultant who could steer the conversation without a personal agenda. The facilitator met with the Steering Committee—a small group of senior leadership—five times over the course of the planning process. Additionally, we invited a 40-member Task Force composed of a representative sampling of students, faculty, staff, and community members to meet for two, half-day workshops to review the Steering Committee’s discussions and conclusions, respond to the research findings, discuss plan priorities, brainstorm possible planning goals and tactics, and raise issues or concerns we might have missed.
The overall PPCC community was kept apprised of progress throughout the process through a dedicated strategic planning web-page on the PPCC.edu website. On the planning webpage, we described the various stages of the process, introduced the members of the committees, solicited input from all of PPCC’s constituents via web-based survey tools before, during, and after the plan was drafted, and posted downloadable copies of all the presentations and documents from each of the planning meetings. PPCC’s internal communications team helped guide people toward the web page and ask for their input.
Over the course of all of these meetings, we worked through a SWOT analyses, reviewed available metrics pertaining to PPCC’s employee climate, looked at student success metrics, and assessed PPCC’s performance relative other similarly sized institutions. We also conducted some original and secondary research reviews of outside sources. These included:
- An open-ended survey posed to the PPCC community regarding their hopes and intentions for PPCC’s future
- A focus group with a PPCC class
- A review of secondary research on demographic trends with a specific look at predictions of likely state, region, and local trends by race and age
- Two focus groups with local Hispanic high school students
- A thorough review of regional economic indicators for PPCCs service area
- Interviews with local economic experts and business leaders
Through the research and discussion of findings, we identified the following contextual realities, challenges, and strengths we felt needed to be addressed in the strategic plan:
- Morale and confidence in leadership at PPCC has improved significantly over the past five years. However, additional opportunities remain to develop leadership capacity throughout the ranks and encourage greater creativity and risk-taking at all levels of the College.
- While PPCC has managed tremendous growth and worked to remove barriers to entry, there is still work to be done to make it easier to get through the administrative process of application and enrollment and easier and more compelling to stay enrolled to completion.
- Southern Colorado’s population is changing significantly: The Hispanic population has grown, and District 11’s percentage of Hispanic high school students is about double the percentage of Hispanic students currently enrolled at PPCC; PPCC’s faculty and staff are predominantly white, non-Hispanic; Colorado’s population will age quickly over the next several decades; and, the northeastern part of PPCC’s service area is predicted to grow rapidly.
- The military population of the El Paso region remains very high, which creates the opportunities to better serve military members and their families.
- While PPCCs retention rates are on par with those of similar community colleges in the region, they are not as high as we would like—particularly among students of color.
- As the only public community college in the region, PPCC has a terrific opportunity to position ourselves as agile and responsive by doing a better job of keeping track of and responding to shifts in local employer needs with appropriate workforce-ready programs and by staying tuned to student needs for more flexible course delivery options in academic programs.