University of West Georgia launches strategic plan
Feb. 15—CARROLLTON — The University of West Georgia launched its new strategic plan recently with what university officials called "a commitment to curating a first-choice university."
Becoming UWG — the strategic plan that will lead the university for the next five years and beyond — draws upon the university's 115-year history and the input and feedback of students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, community members and other stakeholders to establish a path toward long-term growth and excellence.
UWG President Brendan Kelly first launched the stakeholder-based strategic planning process in August 2020. Now, six months later and following hundreds of hours of data collection through discovery sessions and a comprehensive survey taken by 900 stakeholders, the university has established a strategic plan for the years 2021-26.
"Our new plan provides the priorities, objectives and process that will propel us toward what we have to do to meet the demands and expectations of our students and communities both today and tomorrow," Kelly said. "The homogenized higher education environment of the 20th century has been uprooted by a digital age, so we have to be distinct and offer something unique; this strategic plan will lead us to the outcomes we need."
The plan presents a bold vision for UWG that articulates aspirational priorities and goals designed to guide university decisions, determine strategic investments and measure institutional progress.
Each of the plan's targeted objectives — including enhanced experiential learning opportunities; a strengthened sense of belonging and connectedness among all members of the UWG community; and heightened institutional visibility and reputation — fall under one of the three priorities of relevance, competitiveness and placemaking.
"Our desired outcomes of this plan are simply stated but complex to achieve: growth and excellence," Kelly said. "For a university, growth is not just about enrollment. It's about the university's sophistication, complexity and the advancement of its sense of purpose."
Explaining the outcome of excellence, Kelly shared his philosophy that "mediocrity is easy."
"We don't have to wake up early or stay up late to be mediocre," he said. "It's important for us to have higher expectations for ourselves all the time because every moment of time we invest, every dollar spent, every action taken has to feed into our end-users' higher expectations. Their choosing us is what makes us the first choice in the marketplace."
Moving forward, university leaders have been charged with developing divisional plans to ensure all planning is aligned with the new strategic plan and its commitment statement: "We are dedicated to the curation of a first-choice university."
"This plan is ambitious but achievable with goals that can be measured," Kelly said. "Our process is one of continuous refinement: We do what's right for the student, and then we make it work for the university — not the other way around. If we are a larger, more sophisticated institution that is notably, with evidence, more excellent in 2026 than we are today, then we will have done precisely what we set out to do."
Those who participated in the planning sessions said student, faculty, supporter and administrative involvement in the study was critical.
"I was proud to participate as a student in a Discovery Session for the strategic planning process," Senior Aaron Ashton, who is majoring in Marketing and Business Administration and is president of the UWG Blue Coats, said. "In order for the University of West Georgia to remain a relevant and competitive force, we have to include students in that planning, and it means a lot that the university administration thought of students for inclusion in the process. Students are what make this university work now, and we are what will push this university forward into the future."
"The process of putting the strategic plan together was very inclusive," Monica Williams Smith, the assistant dean of the Richards College of Business, said. "As members of the Strategic Planning Steering Team, we included students, faculty, staff, community partners — anybody who was interested in the future of the institution. We used more of a research-based approach by taking all of those different people — hundreds of people — and putting them in focus groups, so we were able to ask questions about the three pillars (relevance, competitiveness and placemaking) to really get an understanding and hear their voices on what they thought about those concepts."
To learn more about the strategic plan, visit the Becoming UWG website.