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2019 - 2024 Working Strategic Plan and Mission Refresh

Otis College's 2019 - 2024 Working Strategic Plan and Mission Refresh was approved by the Board of Trustees on September 18, 2019. The Plan is referred to as the "Working" Strategic Plan because it was known at the time of Board approval that a new President and Provost may choose to re-engage the campus community on select goals, objectives, or strategies.

The Plan may be downloaded as an internally-focused version (full length, including plan assessment and formation information) or as a shorter, presentation quality externally-focused version intended for special audiences.  

Included in the 2019-24 Working Strategic Plan is Otis College's refreshed Mission Statement; the revised single-sentence Mission Statement is:  

Otis College of Art and Design educates a diverse community of students to become highly skilled, well-informed, and responsible professionals—empowering them to shape the world.

The Planning Process

Otis College's Strategic Plan for the period 2019-24 began in the third year of the prior 2015-19 Working Strategic Plan time frame. A review of that plan’s Progress Summary showed that Otis College had advanced well, with most of the Plan's five SMART Goals (Simple, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely), 25 Objectives, and 92 Strategies having been Accomplished; 15 being In Good Progress; and 2 remaining To Be Completed. This was an indication of the full community involvement, commitment, and determination the Plan had enjoyed—from the faculty through the staff, students, administrators, and trustees.

With the Board's approval of the 2015-19 Working Strategic Plan, it was known that an interim Presidency and a search for a new President would soon follow. The College wanted at that time to make room for the new President to review the Working Strategic Plan and revise, as needed. By 2018, following the appointment of President Bruce W. Ferguson, most of the Working Strategic Plan's objectives either had been met or were in good progress toward completion. Based on the extensive progress to-date, a timeline for a new strategic plan and Mission "refresh" in light of current times and conditions was formed to guide the college through the next five years.

The new planning process, led by the President, the Provost, and the senior team, built upon the considerable input gathering, needs assessment, and synthesis that had informed the prior Working Strategic Plan. Planning communications, community engagement activities, and input gathering continued to progress under Interim President Randall Lavender, as follows:

  • Summer ’17:  Developed a comprehensive Progress Summary for the 2014-19 Working Strategic Plan; noted any objectives or strategies that might carry forward, and any potential new ones inspired by past progress
  • Fall ’17:  Formed a Strategic Planning Taskforce to guide and inform the forward planning and missioin refresh process; message the campus community about the goals and timeline for the new forming of a new Plan
  • Spring / Summer ‘18:  The President presented a Context Statement to kickoff the forward planning and mission refresh process
    • Numerous groups, committees, and special forums for students, faculty, department administrators, and staff members provided input on core values and planning themes and priorities
    • The input gathering process went deeper via a survey instrument to ensure broad community input on the relative importance of various themes and priorities
    • All input was synthesized toward a proposed new Five-Year Plan Outline, including mission refresh options.
  • Spring '19:  The Plan Outline was shared with the campus community for feedback
  • Summer / Fall '19:  The Plan Outline was further developed toward a full (narrative) Plan document
    • All students, faculty, and staff were invited again to provide feedback on further refined mission refresh options 
    • The new, full Plan includes the newly-informed mission statement and was approved by the Board of Trustees on September 18, 2019.

Community Input

The 2019-24 Strategic Plan—renamed the 2019-24 Working Strategic Plan following the Spring 2019 appointment of Interim President Randall Lavender—was deeply guided by input gathered through numerous scheduled Meetings and Events, as well as comprehensie prioritization survey involving all College constituents. Three large group forums convened in February, 2018: a Student Forum, the Academic Assembly, and a Town Hall. Each focused on institutional core values to inform a review and revision of the College's Mission.

town hall

A list of Themes and Priorities formally introduced to the College community through strategic planning memos, the President's Context Statement, and the prior Working Strategic Plan Progress Summary chronicled key topics and issues identified through the input gathering process.

Synthesis of the input gathered through numerous meetings and events was time consuning, yet allowed proper review, augmentation, and--importantly--prioritization of ideas and needs from all corners of the College through a comprehensive survey, which collected broad campus community input.

Quantitative and qualitative data from the community survey, along with the input gathering archive, itself, informed the Working Strategic Plan Outline.


The strategic planning process, launched in January 2018, involved all campus stakeholders and was guided and informed by at Strategic Planning Steering Committee, consisting of:

   Mei-Lee Ney—Trustee
   Kirk Hyde—Trustee
   Randall Lavender—Interim President
   Kim Russo—Interim Provost
   Karen Hill—VP Human Resources and Development
   Debra Ballard—Chair of LAS and Associate Provost for Assessment and Accreditation
   Sue Maberry—Senior Director of Library and Learning Centers
   Angila L. Romious—Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness
   Peter Gadol—Chair of MFA Writing and Senior Co-Chair, Academic Assembly
   Andrew Plakos—Professor of Toy Design, Senior Co-Chair, Faculty Senate
   Three Student Voice Association representatives

In preparation for a highly participatory planning process, the then President and Senior Team articulated four primary themes to promote discussion, with the understanding that the Otis College Centennial and numerous related events would serve to focus further strategic thinking and additional planning activity. The primary themes included:

  • A review and revision of Otis College’s mission statement to sustain a community with shared core values.
  • An expansion of volunteer leadership—Trustees, Governors, Fashion Council, Friends of the Gallery, the Group, Alumni, etc.
  • Ensuring diversity of visible and other minorities, particularly in the faculty ranks, to maintain relevance as a pedagogical institution
  • A significantly prioritized and intentional budget that allows the development of new, sustainable revenue streams to partially relieve tuition dependency. This would include an increased general endowment and specific endowments (focused on certain purposes), new offerings, and new academic programs/initiatives to include accelerated degree programming for working adults, new majors and/or curricular areas of emphasis at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and international presences of fitting programs.

The President's Context Statement included these themes, framed a number of other priorities, and raised additional key questions for the college community's consideration.

Following the return to campus of former Provost, Randall Lavender as Interim President, the 2019-24 Working Strategic Plan Outline was completed and shared with the Strategic Planing Steering Committee, who recommended that it be disseminated for community feedback. With feedback collected from the larger campus community, members of the Students' Union, and the College's Boards, the Outline was further refined to form the full 2019-24 Working Strategic Plan and Mission Refresh document, later approved by the Board of Trustees (Sept. 2019). 

2019-24 Strategic Planning Documents
2014-19 Working Strategic Plan Progress Summary
Strategic Planning Memo 1 - Looking Forward
Meetings and Events
Strategic Planning Memo 2 - Setting the Stage
President's Context Statement
Themes and Priorities to-date
Strategic Planning Memo 3 - Input Gathering and Prioritization
Strategic Planning Memo 4 - Synthesis and Plan Outline
Thank You for Outline Feedback
Strategic Planning Memo 5 - Mission Refresh Feedback
Strategic Planning Memo 6 - Full Plan Approved and Posted
2019-2024 Working Strategic Plan and Mission Refresh--Internal (for college use)
2019-2024 Working Strategis Plan and Mission Refresh--External (for public use)


The 2015-19 Working Strategic Plan

The Working Strategic Plan (2015-19) completed under Interim President Kerry Walk was approved by the Board of Trustees on December 8, 2014.  

2014-19 Strategic Planning Process

In 2018, Otis would celebrate 100 years of excellence in art and design education. During the 2013-14 academic year, the College embarked on a year-long, highly participatory process to create a new Strategic Plan to guide the College through the Otis Centennial Celebration and beyond, from Fall 2014 through Spring 2019. 

The Strategic Plan for 2014-19 was to serve as a follow-up to the successful 2010-13 Strategic Bridge Plan (SBP), which was designed to focus attention on a group of top College priorities within a brief three-year timeframe. The 2014-19 Strategic Plan included ongoing objectives launched from the SBP—including faculty and student workload, multi-year faculty and staff compensation plans, assessment of the new Institutional Learning Outcomes, and others—as well as new areas of strategic importance, to be developed by the entire Otis Community.

The strategic planning process engaged a wide range of Otis stakeholders, including internal constituencies (faculty, staff, and students) and external constituencies (Otis trustees and governors, alumni, key industry leaders). Most planning work was incorporated into existing committees and working groups so that campus members could be engaged widely and organically.

The strategic planning effort was launched in early Fall 2013 and continued through early Spring 2014, when it was temporarily put on hold while the College attended to the departure of President Sammy Hoi. The planning effort was renewed in Summer 2014, with the goal of completing a five-year Working Strategic Plan by the end of Fall 2014, in accordance with the original timeline. Once a new president was to come on board, he or she would have the opportunity to shape the final Plan document.  It also enabled Otis to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Planning Timeline

The strategic planning process had five phases:


Phase 1:  Setting the Stage

President Samuel Hoi set the stage for the strategic planning process in a State of the College Address on August 21, 2013, at a convening of all faculty and staff. He provided a holistic definition of Otis success and laid out seven Strategic Pathways for Otis’ next phase of development. The seven Strategic Pathways were interrelated and interdependent. Each one drove the others, and together they led to the mission-centric, externally recognized, and sustainable college that was envisioned. 


A Guide for Strategic Planning

To help the campus community prepare for meaningful participation in the strategic planning process, a planning guide entitled "Mapping the Future: The Otis Centennial and Beyond" was developed and widely distributed. It provided succinct descriptions of the seven Strategic Pathways.

Phase 2:  Kick-Off

Faculty and staff convened in November 2013 to launch planning efforts through open discussion of the strategic pathways and brainstorming exercises that provided input for the plan.

forum one

President Samuel Hoi welcomed all to Forum #1

fourm 1 activity

Faculty and Staff brainstormed at Forum #1

forum 2

Provost Kerry Walk led an exercise at Forum #2

forum 2 activity

31 groups shared "hot ideas" at Forum #2