The end of April will mark my first year at Montana State University Billings. I’m proud of what we have achieved in this first year and excited for what will come … as we work take the university from good to great.

MSU Billings is starting to realize the fruits of our labor. There is a new energy on campus among students, faculty and staff. This spring, the university had one of our best retention rates from fall to spring in recent years.

Applications for fall 2019 semester are up, as well as inquiries for our residential halls. Construction is about to commence on the Yellowstone Science and Allied Health Building this summer. The university is working to strategically realign our degrees and programs to better meet market demands and student needs.

This is just the start. At the core of the university’s changes is our new strategic plan. Last fall, over 50 students, staff, faculty, and community members gathered to participate in brainstorming sessions facilitated by a strategy consultant.

During these sessions, reoccurring themes continued to emerge. This helped develop the framework for the new MSU Billings strategic plan. We compared our framework to the strategic plans of our flagship, Montana State University; Montana University System; peer institutions; my first-year goals as chancellor, and the work done by the MSU Billings Community Taskforce, merging all of this work into our draft.

For the past few months, the working groups involved in the strategic plan have grown. Committees have been formed to further define our strategic plan’s themes, objectives, and sub-objectives. Additionally, the university has hosted open forums and sent email surveys to solicit feedback. In March, I presented the strategic plan framework to the Montana Board of Regents and received their support.

With this new strategic plan, our vision and mission have been re-imagined. Our vision is “educating students to impact an evolving global community.” Our mission speaks to the unique student populations that we serve and the value our education provides their lives: “Montana State University Billings delivers a transformative education that empowers students from diverse backgrounds to succeed."

The strategic plan has four core themes and five objectives.

• Build educational programs to support student needs.

Objective 1 - Educate: Provide educational opportunities that cultivate lifelong learners.

• Progressively grow the university.

Objective 2 - Recruit/retain: Develop and recruit a vibrant and diverse academic community of students, faculty, and staff.

• Strengthen relationships with the community to enhance partnership opportunities.

Objective 3 - Partnership: Develop and enhance public-private partnerships at the local and regional levels.

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• Unify, invigorate, and engage MSUB’s structure and culture.

Objective 4 - University foundations: Stimulate student success by enhancing campus facilities and services to effectively support academic and co-curricular programs.

Objective 5 - Stewardship: Be a responsible steward of resources and create a culture of collaboration.

Our committees are hard at work refining the plan’s sub-objectives and developing their action plans with timelines and metrics, so we can held accountable to our goals.

For MSU Billings to achieve our overarching goals, it’s vital that members of the MSU Billings community – students, faculty, staff, alumni, and our community partners – all contribute this effort. I encourage those interested to join a strategic plan committee, provide feedback on our efforts, and track progress with our action plans and metrics by visiting www.msubillings.edu/strategy.

This strategic plan sets the stage for a promising future for MSU Billings as we work to grow and serve the education and workforce needs of Billings, our region, Montana and beyond.

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Dan Edelman is chancellor of Montana State University Billings.