The Five Imperatives – Institutional Strategic Plan
The Institutional Strategic Plan (“Husky 2030”) is intended to guide the decision-making, prioritization, organization, budgeting and performance of the University for the ten-year window from 2020 (upon completion of the Ten Pillars 2020 strategic plan) to 2030. It is based on multiple brainstorming and town hall meetings, seeking input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, Trustees, and other friends of the University. Many of these sessions were held in 2019, prior to the COVID pandemic, but other sessions were delayed by the pandemic. Development of the 2030 plan was renewed in 2021, guided by a framework suggested by consultants from Credo. President Sloan organized his thoughts on the purpose of Christian higher education, and the foundational principles of Houston Christian University, upon which future planning should rest. These principles became the Ten Core Convictions, also called the Ten Pillars 2030.
Members of the executive leadership, the academic leadership, and members of the faculty and staff were organized into working groups in the summer and fall of 2021 to generate potential strategic initiatives according to this framework. Initially, about 150 initiatives were proposed. These were prioritized and narrowed by the Executive Council, into approximately 36 key directions. Dr. Sloan continued to articulate his vision for the future of HCU, in what came to be called the Five Imperatives. The remaining initiatives were organized into one or more of these Imperatives, and became the Strategic Priorities for HCU in 2030.
The Strategic Priorities consist of one or more Initiatives, which will have each of the following components:
- actions (or processes) to be taken to fulfill the initiative
- desired outcomes or long-term goals for the initiative
- the measure of success to be collected and reported annually (if not more frequently)
- key performance indicators (the essential measure of university health and accomplishment)
- leadership (the Executive Council members most responsible for the initiative, as well as other key staff or faculty leaders)
- timeline (emphasizing the most urgent or near-term actions and the significant long-term actions)
As we align our strategic activities with the University’s Christian worldview and Ten Core Convictions, or Pillars, we will implement Five Imperatives that focus our aspirations on measurable action steps and outcomes.
Imperative One: Growing Size and Place
Student Population. We will grow to 10,000 students. To achieve this strategic objective, we will adapt and expand our enrollment and marketing strategies, employ the appropriate number of faculty and staff, and also create the appropriate facilities, programs, and infrastructure to accommodate and support that number. Enrolling 10,000 students, in a ratio that could include 40% traditional and 60% online students, is necessary to provide the range of academic programming and resources needed to fulfill our mission.
The Importance of Place. The ideal for every community of people, whether a family or a nation, is to have a home—a well-defined place within which to experience safety, stability, nurture, and love. At their best, such places are both secure and beautiful and provide the context for the growth of all community members, allowing them to prosper and flourish.
As HCU grows toward enrolling 10,000 traditional and nontraditional students, we will build, expand, and renovate physical spaces to facilitate the mission of the University and the total learning experience it provides. Serving 10,000 students will require the redesign and expansion of our central utility plant and a wide range of additional operational spaces—classrooms, offices, dining halls, parking areas, housing, and other student support facilities.
Some specific buildings already recognized as needs and in various stages of planning and development include the following:
- The Morris Family Center for Law and Liberty. It features not only a central building modeled after Independence Hall but also two multi-story classroom buildings.
- The Jim and Sherry Smith Science, Engineering, and Nursing Building. The necessary fundraising ($50 million) is already underway. It will provide for the renovation and expansion of our current science facilities and will especially build new space for the rapidly growing STEM-related disciplines.
- New Athletic Facilities to Support Our NCAA Division I Membership—a baseball stadium, a gym and arena capable of hosting special events, including men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball, the renovation of the women’s softball stadium, new plans for track and field, and the completion of our football stadium complex with new facilities for offices, training rooms, lockers, and strength and conditioning.
Other strategic activities related to the campus infrastructure will include the continued expansion of the campus edge project known as The Pillars at HCU. The continued development of that property is vital to both the University’s public appearance and alternate sources of revenue. The property will include expanded retail spaces, a location for a special events center, new housing, offices, and a hotel and conference center. The University will also undertake continuous renewal of our procedures for campus safety and security and will establish new and focused plans and practices for enhancing campus maintenance and beautification. The smooth functioning and the aesthetic quality of the buildings, as well as the spaces between them and the overall landscape, are vital to the character, community, memory building, and sense of place that the University seeks to provide.
Imperative Two: Preserving, Strengthening, and Integrating the Foundational Liberal Arts Disciplines of a Comprehensive Christian University
HCU not only seeks to preserve and teach these classical disciplines but will also strive to embed and integrate these purposeful disciplines, their content and their practices, within contemporary life as a matter of both preserving culture and speaking prophetically to it. The lure of the marketplace often overwhelms the stability provided by these historic disciplines, but the world, as a place of brokenness, violence, and confusion, needs theologians, philosophers, historians, people of letters, artists, educators, and all those committed to the free and humane practices of civil discourse for its preservation, stability, and continuance.
Imperative Three: Renewing Community Life and Culture
Students. HCU is committed to and will constantly seek to evaluate and renew all the practices that support student engagement, persistence, and, ultimately, the flourishing of all students to fulfill their purpose as image bearers of the living God.
Faculty and Staff. HCU will seek to encourage the professional development of its faculty and staff through the processes of orientation, providing clear work expectations and ongoing training regarding job responsibilities, and leadership development. For faculty and staff to fulfill their deepest calling of teaching, mentoring, and pursuing research as forms of disciple-making, it is imperative for the University to facilitate regular renewal in all the spheres of their vocations.
Imperative Four: Embracing the Marketplace
The Marketplace Initiatives that follow are expressions of HCU’s commitment to facilitate for our students and faculty robust experiences in the world as we find it, encouraging them to live faithfully as salt and light in the marketplace of work and ideas. These Marketplace Initiatives seek to translate our convictions into the major patterns of work, innovation, and enterprise prevailing today so that our students may discover and develop their talents, gifts, and vocations—and thus serve the purposes of God with work that benefits the world and honors him. These initiatives also provide mechanisms for HCU faculty, staff, and students to serve God in the work of restoring creation to its original, created glory (Pillar II); to facilitate the flourishing of human welfare in submission to God’s plan and purposes (Pillar III); and to know, understand, and cultivate God’s world through technological proficiency and professional expertise, as well as through understanding of human purpose and civil structures (Pillar V).
The purpose of the HCU Marketplace Initiatives is to prepare future generations of problem solvers (undergraduate and graduate students, and professionals seeking specialized courses and training) using immersive, experiential learning environments and project-driven learning. These initiatives will also seek to support regional workforce and economic development efforts and community engagement programs; facilitate recruiting of students, faculty, and staff; grow partnerships for financial and professional development; and develop innovative solutions to grand challenges in Houston’s major market sectors. Related initiatives will focus on the high-demand, high-employment arenas of the Houston metropolitan area:
Health and Wellness (Improving Health Outcomes for All)
Energy (Building America’s Energy Future)
Education (Preparing America’s Future Leaders)
Cyber and Data (Securing America’s Future in Cyberspace)
Imperative Five: Planning for Continuous Improvement
Academic. We will regularly undertake revision of our academic organization, structures, course and degree offerings, programs, and curricula. It is important not only to preserve the historic disciplines of the University, but to ensure that they are renewed and updated for maximum effectiveness and geared toward the student learning experience in a high-tech world and a rapidly changing marketplace. Program mix, accreditation, and review of the core curriculum represent several of the broad areas that will receive regular attention to ensure academic excellence, marketplace impact, and fiscal sustainability. These decisions will be data-informed using best practices in academic sustainability and quality.
Branding and Marketing. Telling HCU’s story in ways that reflect our history and our present vibrancy is critical for enriching our visibility and effectiveness. Extending the reach of the University’s name and brand through robust marketing that highlights our distinctives and strengths will be a focal point in the coming months and years as we seek to grow not only in size but also in our influence. Every imperative above will require significant strategic creativity and innovative marketing as we expand our witness to God’s work in the world.
Financial. HCU will develop a comprehensive financial plan that covers every aspect of the University’s operations, including financial projections, capital improvements, money management, auxiliary enterprises, accounting, maintenance, beautification, and close coordination with academic programming and enrollment management. Such a stewardship of prudent financial and operational efficiencies and effectiveness will build and sustain the appropriate financial margins to enable and enhance our central Christian mission.