Spring 2023 Update

April 6, 2023

With a few more weeks remaining in the spring semester, I would like to provide you with an update on our strategic planning process. In February, Kennedy & Company (K&Co) returned to campus to lead three facilitated visioning sessions as part of the third phase of our work: Facilitated Visioning.

The facilitated visioning sessions were centered around brand identity, the campus experience and the cyber program, and were highly productive and well attended. Through these sessions, stakeholders identified opportunities and constraints that have allowed K&Co to focus on promising opportunities for further refinement and consideration. I want to thank the faculty, staff, students and community members who made time to participate in these visioning sessions, as well as those of you who attended the Lunch & Learn.

K&Co has begun work on phase four - Strategic Direction, where they are further reviewing financial resources to help us best understand the most appropriate strategic direction. During this phase, university leadership and the Strategic Planning Committee have crafted draft mission and vision statements, as well as strategic priorities and top-level goals to drive the university from mission to vision.

I encourage each of you to review the proposed draft language: USC Aiken Draft Mission, Vision and Priorities. If you would like to provide feedback or suggestions on the proposed mission, vision or priorities you can do so via an online form.

The deadline to provide feedback is 1 p.m. Friday, April 14, as this will enable us to fine tune the language and proceed with our strategic planning process. Your feedback is important as USC Aiken's new mission, vision and strategic priorities will ground the development of cascading plans at the unit and department levels that will drive our efforts for the next five years.

Thank you for your continued support and engagement in this important process.

Warmest regards,

Dan Heimmermann, PhD



Spring 2023 Update

February 10, 2023

The spring semester is well underway, and I want to update you on our strategic planning process. Kennedy & Company (K&Co) completed an external market and competitive analysis in the fall and has since synthesized the work with primary and secondary research to complete the second phase of the five phases of work: Strategy Assessment.

The strategy assessment summarizes the insights and recommendations gleaned from our work to date and is an interim step on our journey to developing our strategy and plan. I encourage you to reach out to members of the strategic planning committee (SPC) or cabinet if you want additional context on this work. 

The perspectives shared with the SPC and K&Co during interviews, focus groups, and town halls provide insights for this important process, and I want to thank everyone who made the time to participate in the fall. The primary research also included an online strategic planning survey. USC Aiken faculty, staff, and students, as well as Aiken community members, were invited to participate, and I am pleased to share that over 850 responses were received. The rich data collected (including over 2,600 open-ended responses) reveal stakeholder perspectives on our strengths and weaknesses, institutional priorities for the next five years, who we serve, and who we aspire to be.

Later this month K&Co will return to campus to kick off the third phase of the strategic planning process and facilitate three visioning sessions to address brand identity, the campus experience, and the cyber program. The SPC and the cabinet have identified stakeholders who will contribute their expertise and perspectives to these topics.

While on campus, K&Co will host a lunch and learn for USCA stakeholders who want to learn more about what was gleaned from the Strategy Assessment. The lunch and learn will be held on Thursday, February 23, from 12:00 p.m. until 1:15 p.m. Capacity is limited, so please use this link to sign up to attend: https://forms.gle/KPT6jf2iDzLfSUyw5

Warmest regards,

Dan Heimmermann, PhD


Fall 2022 Update

December 7, 2022

Greetings Pacers!

As we wind down the fall semester, I want to update you on our strategic planning process and, specifically, the activities and milestones of the current phase of work (Strategy Assessment - Phase II of V).

Since the last update, the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) members have met with students, colleagues, and other stakeholders in interviews, focus groups, town halls, and other meetings to gather their perspectives to inform the priorities of USCA for the next five years. Kennedy and Company also held three town hall events the last week of November, attended by over 60 staff, faculty, and community members. Engagement events continue to be scheduled by SPC members. As such, do not hesitate to reach out to any of them if you and your colleagues are interested in scheduling a focus group opportunity.

A strategic planning survey has also been deployed to current and retired USCA staff, faculty, and select community members. To date, over 275 responses have been collected through this confidential survey, with 44% of current faculty and staff participating. Later this week, current students will receive their invitation to participate. If you have not yet participated in the survey, I hope you will consider doing so. The survey will be open through the end of the calendar year and is accessible via the email invitation/reminders you have received.

Lastly, Kennedy and Company have completed external market and competitive analyses as part of the Strategy Assessment phase. In January 2023, this work will be synthesized with the primary research and internal assessment to develop insights and recommendations for the phases of work to come.

Warmest regards,

Dan Heimmermann, PhD


The Charge

October 24, 2022

Greetings Pacers!

The University of South Carolina Aiken officially has begun its strategic planning process with Kennedy & Company (About Us – Kennedy & Company). Based in Virginia, Kennedy & Company works exclusively with institutions of higher education and have engaged with over 40+ colleges and universities on strategic plans, enrollment strategies, and innovative solutions.

During the past several weeks, Kennedy & Company associates (Ann Becks and Megan Overby) have met virtually and in person with the USC Aiken Strategic Planning Committee (SPC). As you recall, the principal charge of the Strategic Planning Committee is to ensure diverse voices and perspectives (both internal and external) are brought to our strategic planning process.

In a previous communication, I briefly outlined our strategic planning process, which includes five phases: Project Planning & Organization; Strategy Assessment; Facilitated Visioning; Strategic Direction Defining; and Communicating and Activating. This process will continue through next spring, and there are integral steps in which your involvement is critical.

Indeed, this strategic process will closely engage our faculty, staff, students, and external stakeholders through focus groups, town halls, visioning sessions, and surveys. With your participation, the university will craft a vision, mission, and strategic direction. We will create a solid financial plan whereby strategies will align with budgets, personnel, and performance expectations. Together, we will produce a living, breathing document to guide our university for the next five years.

Up to now the meetings with our Kennedy & Company facilitators largely have been devoted to discussing the strategic planning process and identifying stakeholder groups (to ensure our process is as inclusive as possible) and planning stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and town halls. This link takes you to our Strategic Planning, 2022-23 website which outlines our strategic planning process and includes a working schedule of past and future stakeholder engagement sessions. These meetings include interviews, stakeholder focus groups, and larger town halls.

We hope that our strategic planning process, including our stakeholder engagement plan, will be an agenda topic of all of your standing university meetings. Please take a careful look at the schedule of stakeholder engagement sessions. If you believe that there are other important campus or external constituent groups not already identified by the Strategic Planning Committee, please let one of the members know, and we can address this.

In addition to scheduled (and to-be-scheduled) interviews and focus groups, we will hold three general town halls on November 29. The staff town hall will be held at 10 a.m., the faculty town hall will occur at 2 p.m., and the community and donor town hall will take place at 5:30 p.m. Please mark your calendars! Be assured we will send invitations and reminders to each group throughout November. In addition to these in-person engagement opportunities, we will launch an online survey on November 1. We encourage everyone—even those who have/had participated in an interview, focus group, or town hall—to complete the survey.

Again, we wish for as much feedback and direction from our community as possible. Of course, students will also participate in interviews and focus groups, the November 10 Student Summit, and an online survey. As promised, my office will continue to provide the campus community with updated communications like this through our Strategic Planning, 2022-23 website as we continue our strategic planning process through the spring of 2023. Finally, I am so grateful to our USC Aiken Strategic Planning Committee members who represent our broad faculty and staff constituency and who will be a resource for you during this process. Please contact these outstanding campus leaders if you have any questions or suggestions (especially related to how our process can be more engaging and inclusive). As always, thank you so much for your dedication to the mission of our great university and the students and community it serves.

Warmest regards,

Dan Heimmermann, PhD


The Kick-Off Announcement 

September 23, 2022

The University of South Carolina Aiken is embarking on a collaborative university strategic planning process. The university, along with our community stakeholders, will build upon our tremendous legacy and our current “Leading Forward” Strategic Plan (2018-23), and we will articulate a vision, review our mission statement, and determine the priorities, goals, and strategies that will guide us over the next five years. 

To facilitate our work, we have appointed a diverse Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) and have partnered with Kennedy & Company, a renowned higher education strategic planning firm that will facilitate our work. Please review (below) and become acquainted with the USC Aiken Strategic Planning Committee leaders who have been thoughtfully selected from our campus community.

Working closely with our consultants and in tandem with the cabinet, the Strategic Planning Committee will ensure diverse voices and perspectives are brought to this process. Committee members will be asked to connect with internal and external stakeholders and help individuals and groups be active and feel engaged in this process. USC Aiken Strategic Plan Committee members will serve a critical role as representative voices in the brainstorming and visioning sessions. These members will work with our consultants and stakeholders to develop cascading plans for units to deliver on the strategies we determine. 

Throughout the strategic planning process, everyone will have multiple opportunities to contribute and participate in scheduled focus group sessions, forums, surveys, and other means to ensure the widest possible community engagement. Within the next week, an online strategic planning platform will be launched to provide the campus and external stakeholders with information, updates, and resources about our strategic process. 

Thank you in advance for your commitment to this process, and

Go Pacers!

Dan Heimmermann, PhD

Process, Activities, and Timelines

Committee Members