Goals and Outcomes

In the fall of 2017, VSU adopted a new vision for itself – one in which the University committed itself to being a catalyst for regional comprehensive progress. This Strategic Plan lays the foundation for living up to that vision by creating a blueprint for increasing the number of graduates, developing more transformational and experiential learning opportunities for those graduates, and increasing the University’s impact on the region we serve. This plan reflects VSU’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity and to bringing a world-class education to all students. This plan similarly serves to increase faculty, staff, student, alumni, and supporter pride in the University, as it paves the way for the VSU family to work together to accomplish our most pressing goals, and thus, achieve our fullest potential as South Georgia’s higher education leader and flagship university.

To download a printable PDF of the strategic plan goals and outcomes, please click here.

Goal #1: Valdosta State University will increase retention, progression, and graduation rates through creating a campus culture focused on individual student success.

Outcome 1.1 – By fall 2018, in line with national best practices, VSU will implement a University-wide advising model with professional advisors working in conjunction with faculty as mentors within all academic colleges.

Completed Fall 2018

In order to accomplish this initiative and many others, VSU created the Division of Student Success in spring 2017 and hired Dr. Rodney Carr as the Vice President for Student Success in summer 2017. In fall 2017, after gathering expert feedback from the Deans’ Council, Council of Department Heads, and University Council, the Division of Student Success formed a model for full-time professional advising centers in all six of VSU’s academic colleges and the Honors College. This model included hiring an Executive Director for Advising, which was done in January 2018; establishing four additional College Advising Centers with directors; and hiring eleven new full-time advisors and two part-time advisors. The advising centers were activated in August 2018, and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CELT) is currently planning workshops to assist faculty in their role as mentors to students.

Outcome 1.2 – By spring 2019, VSU will develop evidence-based responses to identify and address barriers to successful retention, progression, and graduation of students at the University.

Completed Spring 2019

Through research and statistical analysis, VSU has developed a retention formula that identifies the top five factors that can have a positive influence on retaining students from their freshman to sophomore year. This formula and research has been integrated into the student sign-on portal, and the research is now guiding several strategies for outcome 1.3.

Advising Centers now advise students to complete the initial English and Math in the first academic year. This is to address two of the five areas identified by the retention formula. 

Mr. Rob Freidhoff is working with the Suspension Appeals committee and the professional advisors to design an intervention strategy for students who enter probation, and those identified as “at-risk” for probation. 

The retention rate increased this past Fall from 65% previous year to 71% this current year. 

The four-year graduation rate increased by 2% this past academic year.

Outcome 1.3 – By spring 2019, VSU will complete a University-wide revision of its three-year Strategic Enrollment Management Plan that addresses barriers found in Outcome 1.2.

Completed Spring 2019

The revision of the University’s three-year Strategic Enrollment Plan has been completed through direct collaboration with the Division of Academic Affairs, the Division of Student Success, and the Division of Student Affairs. The plan sets forth a comprehensive approach to enrollment management, from admission to graduation. The plan also features several strategies to engage students both in and outside of the classroom. The plan is currently being implemented and contains assessment markers and data dashboards to allow each strategy of the plan to be evaluated. One such strategy is to replace the summer orientation process for new students with an 18-month transition period to further ensure student acclimation, retention, and success.

Outcome 1.4 – By fall 2019, VSU will develop clear academic pathways for all undergraduate degree programs, publicize corresponding two-year rolling course schedules, and implement an annual review process to ensure that all posted information (e.g., catalog, DegreeWorks, website, etc.) remains accurate and up-to-date.

In Progress 

By November 2018, all undergraduate degree programs at VSU had developed clear four-year pathways through their programs. These program maps are easily accessible on the University’s website. After an intensive process of “pressure-testing” using Visual Schedule Builder, many of the four-year maps were revised to correct some initial errors. This led to a careful review of the proposed fall 2019 schedules, which were revised based on the revised program maps, to ensure that all students could build complete schedules based on the maps. Two-year rolling schedules are currently being developed to coincide with the revised program maps. The University is currently developing an annual review process that will keep all posted program information current and accurate.

Outcome 1.5 – VSU will attract, develop, and retain a quality and diverse workforce that promotes student success by forming a more outcomes-oriented training program for managers by spring 2019 {in progress}; completing a classification & compensation study for faculty and staff by fall 2019 {Completed}; creating a faculty workload model that is consistent with comparator norms by spring 2020 {in progress}; and connecting promotion & tenure, as well as funding to support research and High Impact Practices, to the values inherent in this plan by spring 2021 {in progress}. 

In Progress

In fall 2018, VSU created the Faculty Workload Model Task Force, and throughout the 2018-19 academic year, the task force gathered data from peer and aspirational institutions and surveyed departments to gain a clear understanding of the current state of faculty workload at VSU. The group developed a draft report, which was shared with faculty at a number of forums as well as the Deans’ Council and Faculty Senate. The final report of the task force was approved in spring 2019 by the Deans’ Council, Provost and President. Each of the six academic colleges and Odum Library are developing their individual workload documents, consistent with the new university policy, during the 2019-2020 academic year. Revisions to the promotion and tenure process will follow.

Additionally, several groups studied the current state of VSU’s experiential learning High Impact Practices and made recommendations, which are being studied further during the 2019-2020 academic year.

In 2018, Valdosta State University underwent a comprehensive classification and compensation study with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG) to review and recommend necessary changes to our classification system and salary structure, in order to increase our market competitiveness. As a result of the study, the University has been able to simplify the staff classification structure, ensure market/internal structure alignment, establish new minimum pay ranges, and implement an overall compensation philosophy as well as guiding principles for moving forward. The first of five proposed adjustments to employee pay was funded and paid in February 2020. The second adjustment was funded and paid in February 2021. Subsequent years will be implemented as enrollment, and therefore funding, permit. 

Human Resources developed and offered a new outcomes-oriented management training curriculum in fall 2019. All campus divisions participate together, and managers are grouped by manager level (Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3). This mandatory year-long program will:

  • Create a culture of coaching and ownership that enhances job performance, improves collaboration, and addresses conflicts in a timely manner.
  • Equip managers with the necessary skills and strategies in regard to legal issues, employee development, performance management, coaching, and progressive discipline.
  • Provide managers with best practices that will help ensure performance ratings are consistent across all divisions.
  • Establish norms for a campus-wide customer service strategy that will increase service excellence and build on a student-centric culture at VSU.
  • Educate managers on effective budget management and search committee procedures. 

Due to the shift to online learning and other challenges that arose with COVID-19 during the Spring 2020 semester, the Strategic Goal 1.5 Manager Training program continued into the 2020-2021 academic year. As of December 2020, the 87% of managers had completed training requirements (189 out of 217).  The 28 employees with unsatisfied training coursework have been contacted and are required to complete the remaining sessions Spring Semester 2021.

Additionally, the Division of Academic Affairs held a workshop in summer 2019 for deans, directors, and department heads. This included professional development in critical areas such as employment searches, workload, budget, and faculty evaluation.

Outcome 1.6 – By fall 2019, VSU will move to a new entrepreneurial model to fund summer schedule instruction and increase available seats in high-demand courses to meet the programmatic needs of both majors and non-majors as evidenced by a decrease in the number of courses with waitlists in excess of 25 students by 50% from the spring 2018 baseline.|

Completed

As a result of regular discussions and planning with the Deans’ Council and Council of Department Heads, VSU created a new model for summer schedule instruction that was piloted during summer 2019. The new model encouraged an entrepreneurial approach to summer scheduling, and led to a significant increase in summer enrollment (2019 credit hours up about 8% over summer 2018), with more courses offered to more students enrolled.  The model was also successful in Summer 2020 (with headcount enrollment up about 5% and credit hour enrollment up about 3% over 2019). The task force will continue to refine the model, based on experience.

Outcome 1.7 – By fall 2020, VSU will create a clear definition for “under-enrolled courses” and decrease the number of such courses by 25% from the fall 2017 baseline in order to focus existing resources on growing academic programs as evidenced by student demand and/or regional need.

In Progress

Each college is reviewing and will offer suggestions for a university level guideline. Deans’ Council discussed in early 2021 and each college has reviewed and is making recommendations to be reviewed by Deans’ Council.

Outcome 1.8 – By fall 2020, VSU will develop a new University-wide model for evaluating the quality of teaching that promotes excellence in both face-to-face and online modalities, and then implement that model in fall 2021.

In Progress

To enhance the evaluation process and its effectiveness for both teachers and students, the Division of Information Technology reviewed a new evaluation software package, SmartEvals, in fall 2018. In addition to replacing the existing evaluation tool, SmartEvals allows students to complete SOIs on their mobile devices, with the goal of increasing response rates. The software has been reviewed by multiple campus constituencies, including the Faculty Senate leadership team, and was tested with a small group of faculty members during spring 2019. IT implemented the software campus-wide during summer 2019.

In Spring 2020, the Faculty Senate approved a shorter list of evaluation questions, which was implemented in Summer 2020. A Faculty Senate committee recommended broader changes to VSU’s model of faculty evaluation, which the full Senate sent back to committee in November 2020. The committee will continue deliberations into Spring of 2021.  

Outcome 1.9 – By fall 2022, VSU will increase freshmen-to-sophomore-year retention by 13% over the fall 2017 baseline of 67%, increase on-time progression by 10% over the fall 2017 baseline of 26%, and increase the University’s six-year graduation rate for all students by 10% over the 2017 baseline of 36%.

In Progress

The Student Success Council, in conjunction with numerous other groups within the VSU community, has been studying this issue intensely and making changes to VSU processes to promote student progression and retention. Notable actions thus far include pressure-testing the four-year program maps for each major and revising maps and schedules accordingly to reduce course conflicts and ensure course availability. In addition, working with the Faculty Senate, VSU recently revised its GPA calculation policy, bringing it more in line with the University’s peers and reducing the penalty for students who repeat courses.

While work is ongoing, VSU is clearly seeing early positive outcomes. In fall 2019, year-to-year retention rose 4.8% over the prior year, and 6-year graduation rates similarly jumped 5.1%. The four-year graduation rate increased by 2% this past academic year.

Goal #2: Valdosta State University will increase student participation in expanded transformational and experiential opportunities through implementing high impact and best practices focused on evolving student needs.

Outcome 2.1 – By spring 2018, VSU will establish a faculty-led task force on cross-disciplinary experiences to identify and evaluate such opportunities for future launch. By spring 2019, the task force will report back to the Provost with recommendations for immediate opportunities for implementation by fall 2020.

In Progress

The faculty-led task force was formed in fall 2018 and immediately began examining current VSU practices and considering recommendations for specific High Impact Practices (HIPs) that the University should implement. The group also examined the processes and potential costs needed to support faculty in expanding VSU’s HIPs. The task force completed its work and submitted its final report to the Provost in spring 2019. A follow-up task force made further recommendations in summer 2019. VSU is now looking for opportunities to implement the task force’s recommendations by fall 2020 and is considering options for the establishment of the Mary Virginia Terry Center for Experiential Learning.

A QEP task force was formed during the 2019 – 2020 academic year, which has made a recommendation for VSU’s next Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The proposed QEP is focused on experiential learning. The draft plan has been presented to Deans’ Council, to Faculty Senate and the Council of Department Heads.  Town Hall meetings are being held around campus and final recommendation to Deans’ Council and Cabinet is expected later in Spring 2021.

Outcome 2.2 – By spring 2019, VSU will develop a system to track and assess success in High Impact Practices as identified by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, such as common intellectual experiences, undergraduate research, global learning, and internships, within the University and against comparative and aspirational competitors.

In Progress

The completion date for this outcome has been moved to spring 2020. University administration has learned that the task is more complex than originally thought due to the many different types of High Impact Practices (HIPs) that are recommended and the various campus departments that deliver HIPs. The goal is to start with an inventory of HIPs and assess how they are currently being tracked while also recording this information in a single place. Additionally, other strategic outcomes, such as experiential learning across the curriculum and a student’s first-year experience, are HIPs in development where tracking outcomes need to be finalized. The Deans Council is currently in the process of reviewing potential national benchmarks for HIPs, including the most recent results from the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ listing of HIPs, and the requirements for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, which articulates characteristics of curricular and co-curricular community engagement.

A survey of existing HIPs delivered outside the classroom was conducted in September 2019. The results show there is little activity taking place but is being compiled with academic affairs inventory to establish a full list of existing HIPs.

However, much progress has already been made in regards to achieving this outcome. In fall 2018, for instance, VSU expanded its engagement and event attendance website, BlazerLink, to track service hours and community engagement activities. Staff members were trained on the new components of the platform in fall 2018, and the expanded site was launched in spring 2019. Throughout spring 2019, VSU’s Career Opportunities also conducted numerous trainings with faculty internship coordinators on using the Blazer Briefcase portal to track internships and co-ops.

Outcome 2.3 – By spring 2020, each undergraduate degree program will identify a menu of experiential learning opportunities and require that students select and complete at least one in order to graduate.

In Progress

The QEP proposal incorporates this process and will complete this goal once finalized and implemented across campus.

The University is continuing to identify experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students, and the creation of the Mary Virginia Terry Center for Experiential Learning will assist greatly in the completion of this outcome.

The academic colleges have proposed a draft of potential experiential learning activities for review. This was shared with Deans Council in Spring 2020 and with the Quality Enhancement Plan committee. 

The SACSCOC Quality Enhancement Plan committee is narrowing in on a final proposal centered around experiential learning. As this is being refined for end of Spring 2020 it has begun to suggest potential structure and oversight which may be tied to Mary Virginia Terry Center for Experiential Learning and connect with the college experiential learning requirements. 

Departments have been studying this issue and were on track to complete this by the end of Spring 2020, but were delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outcome 2.4 – By fall 2020, VSU will complete a housing master plan to assess existing housing inventory, occupancy projections, and competitive housing options, and provide a recommendation regarding the future needs of housing inventory at the University.

Completed

Students prefer suite or apartment style housing.  However, Valdosta State University has the largest number of traditional style (bathrooms in hallway) residential beds than peer comprehensive universities in the University System of Georgia. Langdale Hall is our largest traditional style bathroom hall, and also has considerable repairs and replacement needs such as HVAC and Elevators. 

All Housing PPV projects have been refinanced to take advantage of best market interest rates and eliminate the escalating repayment structure originally established.  A thorough study of existing housing inventory, maintenance and repair, and housing pro forma and operating budgets led to a final plan being presented to the University Council in Spring 2020, as follows:  neither renovating nor rebuilding Langdale Hall with PPV bonds was financially feasible, as the resulting cost of student rent would exceed market thresholds and also USG debt guidelines.  However, even if Langdale is taken offline in 2026 (coinciding with the re-bid of campus dining services, which is heavily impacted by bed count), Auxiliary reserve funding should be sufficient to make Spa bathroom renovations to Brown, Lowndes and Patterson Halls, in three phases. 

Renovation of Brown Hall restrooms began in January 2021 and is expected to be complete by the end of Summer Semester. The other two halls will be renovated in subsequent fiscal years, as long as occupancy remains stable and funding is available.  Additional bonded projects are paid in full in 2030 at which time taking on additional debt for housing construction can be considered.

Outcome 2.5 – VSU will increase the total annual duplicated headcount at all student engagement activities, such as those offered by faculty and/or academic departments, student life, recreation, fine arts, diversity & inclusion, athletics, Greeks, and registered student organizations, by 3% annually over the fiscal year 2018 baseline, while also increasing total annual unduplicated headcount at such programs by 2% annually over the fiscal year 2018 baseline through the end of the strategic plan period in spring 2022.

In Progress

To track the University’s progress in this initiative, the Athletic Department received new scanners and has begun scanning student participation at all home athletic events, even non-ticketed events. The College of the Arts faculty and staff have also been trained on scanning student participation at theatre and dance performances and art exhibits. Data shows that the University met and exceeded the FY19 goal for this outcome.

As of June 2019, the unduplicated headcount for student engagement was 6,980, representing 109% of the FY19 goal of 6,352. In addition, the total duplicated headcount at the same time was 62,532, representing 136% of the FY19 goal of 45,740.

As of June 2020, the unduplicated headcount for student engagement was 6,552, representing 100% of the FY20 goal of 6,543. In addition, the total duplicated headcount at the same time was 58,791, representing 126% of the FY20 goal of 46,655. On March 13, 2020 the campus was closed under state-wide stay-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. VSU met this goal even though engagement was significantly reduced for the second half of Spring 2020 semester. 

FY21 information will be reported in June 2021.

Goal #3: Valdosta State University will increase community and regional impact through leading development in and serving as a resource for industry, health care, arts, education, athletics, and other changing economic regional needs that support the growth of South Georgia and the communities our students will serve.

Outcome 3.1 – By spring 2018, VSU will conduct a comprehensive assessment of current community outreach activities and launch an external marketing campaign to educate the community about services and impact already offered.

Completed spring 2019

VSU’s newly created Center for South Georgia Regional Impact has compiled an extensive list of VSU’s community-based programs, and an external marketing campaign is currently underway. 

Outcome 3.2 – VSU will establish The Center for South Georgia Regional Impact and hire an Executive Director for the center. By fall 2018, the Executive Director will: 1) compile a content-area expert database including VSU faculty, staff, and administrators, and 2) a database of key contacts in the fields of government, economic development, education, healthcare, and the arts for each county in VSU’s service area. By spring 2020, the Executive Director will: 1) compile an initial list of issues confronting communities in South Georgia and will connect those issues to faculty, staff, and student expertise, 2) prepare a quarterly report that outlines areas of concern from VSU’s service area and the outcomes offered by VSU assets, 3) prepare an annual report of the impact that VSU has made in our 41-county service area, highlighting specific problems that VSU identified or was brought to VSU by the community and the specific solutions offered by VSU experts, and 4) work with Academic Affairs leadership to create a robust “Study Away” program that will be managed within each college with the goal of providing students with service learning opportunities by working with area businesses, non-profit organizations, and other entities primarily within VSU’s 41-county service area.

In Progress

In August 2018, VSU established the Center for South Georgia Regional Impact and hired Darrell Moore as the Executive Director. He immediately began meeting with the Deans’ Council and the Executive Committees of every VSU college, as well as business and community leaders and state legislators throughout VSU’s 41-county service area. In its first year of operation, the Center has partnered with VSU faculty to initiate more than 60 projects with local businesses and governments and other entities. The Center is planning future projects that utilize the academic strengths of VSU faculty, staff, and students to assist in our region.

A major project of the Center through 2020 will be working with leaders across VSU’s 41-county service area to achieve an accurate count in the U.S. 2020 Census. According to the Census Bureau, each person counted is worth approximately $2,300 per person counted per year in the form of government investment due to population. This is a project of major importance to the region. The Center has been recognized by local, state, and national leaders for the work being done and is leading the way by developing marketing materials that are targeted to various demographic groups, including school children, migrant workers, minorities, business owners, and more. The Center is also working closely with both the Georgia Complete Count Committee as well as all of the Complete Count Committees throughout the 41-county service area.

As of February, 2021 the Center has expanded its number of project engagements to more than 100.  These projects have engaged faculty and students in creating marketing plans, feasibility studies, business plans and similar projects for private businesses as well as local governments, school systems, chambers of commerce, and industrial authorities.  The Center has added a part-time support employee and a graduate assistant to help with work flow.

Outcome 3.3 – By spring 2019, each college will have an industry/community advisory board comprised of industry/discipline leaders (preferably alumni) who reflect the diversity of the region and will provide input into course and program development to ensure that VSU students are well prepared to enter the workforce, graduate school, or professional school.

In Progress

As of February, 2021 each college has an advisory board of some type to engage on issues related to meeting the needs of the work force, scholarship programs, and college specific endowments.  Work continues to expand these advisory boards to encompass all academic disciplines within each college.

Outcome 3.4 – By spring 2021, VSU will complete a renovation of Ashley Cinemas to provide enhanced space for the theatre and dance programs and to create an improved and more visible performance space for Peach State Summer Theatre and other high-value cultural opportunities.

In Progress

In July 2018, conceptual designs were prepared in cooperation with a theatre consultant group and reviewed by the College of the Arts. The $18 million proposal was supported by the University System of Georgia (USG) as part of its FY20 capital request, with the understanding that $5 million would be privately raised.

VSU received an appropriation of $1.3M in planning money for this project in the FY 2021 state budget allocation.  The Board of Regents included a request for $12.4M in construction funds and Governor Kemp included this request in his FY 2022 budget which is currently making its way through the Georgia General Assembly.  Feedback on this project has been positive and we are hopeful that construction funds will be a part of VSU’s FY 2022 state budget allocation.  President Carvajal, Merritt Wall, and John Crawford have been having productive meetings with legislators from VSU’s 41-county service area as well as budget committee chairman from the State Senate and State House of Representatives.  The VSU Foundation is tasked with securing $5M in private gifts in support of this project and to date has received $2.17M in funds and is working a plan to raise the remainder by the end of 2022.