Strategic planning at East Arkansas Community College (EACC) is a dynamic, collaborative, and continuous process that sets the future direction for the College. Guided by the Mission, Vision, and Core Competencies, the process ensures the long-term viability of the institution for our students and community. EACC’s strategic planning process ensures that the College makes effective and efficient use of public resources with the overall goal of student success. EACC’s strategic plan, Stronger Together:
Focuses on what the College should do in order to prepare for the future;
Addresses known opportunities for improvement based on the use of data;
Relies on input from internal and external constituencies;
Provides direction for operational activities throughout the College.
The strategic planning process began in 2017, when Act 636 of the Arkansas State Legislature began the process of consolidating the contiguously located Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute (CRTI) and East Arkansas Community College. The two institutions had been neighbors for over forty years, but on August 1, 2017, the educational landscape of the Arkansas Delta transformed with the combining of the two highly respected schools. The now merged East Arkansas Community College represents the very best of the comprised institutions, and through a comprehensive planning process has set forth a plan to reach the future.
The timing of the merger was serendipitous to EACC, with the College having just completed a 2016-2018 planning cycle. This created a need to review the institution’s priorities at a time when the College was in the process of becoming a new institution. In addition, the 19-year president of EACC retired in January 2018. Rather than rushing into a new strategic plan that was not reflective of the combined institution, for fall 2017 and spring 2018, the College focused on short-term goals, primarily related to merging the two schools. Of paramount importance was ensuring that all Higher Learning Commission criteria for accreditation were met with the addition of the vocational institute’s programs to the College. This goal was realized with notification from HLC in March 2018.
In spring 2018, EACC’s Institutional Planning Committee, including representatives of the former technical institute, began the process of reviewing the new institution’s mission and vision statements. A special emphasis was placed on including the former vocational school’s faculty and staff, as well as existing faculty and staff, in the process. To this end, the College hosted several informal café style sessions in order to collect data regarding the relevancy of the College’s previous mission and vision, as well as ideas for improving these guiding statements. Community and student input was sought through social media, polls through Survey Monkey, and polling of students and the student government association. New mission and vision statements that accurately reflect the aims of the new school were drafted, and the EACC Board of Trustees approved the Mission and Vision statements in May 2018.
Following the approval of the revised mission and vision, the Institutional Planning Committee once again charged the campus with re-envisioning the long-term goals of the College. Several additional café events were scheduled to collect information on the specific goals and initiatives necessary to achieving the newly revised vision of the College. Comments from the café sessions were aggregated into word-clouds to help distill the overall themes present in the data. An example of a word-cloud generated from the strategic priorities input-gathering processes is found below.
Using the data gathered from the café sessions, EACC identified three specific themes the campus felt necessary to achieving the excellence sought by the institution’s Vision statement, including: student success, increased enrollment, and improved communications. In August 2018, the EACC Board of Trustees unanimously approved the strategic priorities, affirming the College’s three primary goals for the next three years: to foster student success; to increase enrollment; and to improve internal and external communications.