“Transforming Our Culture:” A Look at Faulkner’s 5-Year Plan

“Transforming Our Culture:” A Look at Faulkner’s 5-Year Plan

Faulkner University is setting itself up for success with the implementation of a new 5-year strategic plan that was set into motion in August. “Transforming Our Culture” is the name of the plan and it involves every person on campus and input from all areas of campus life including faculty, staff, members of the Board of Trustees, students, as well as the president’s cabinet and other campus leaders.

A team of leaders were tasked under President Mitch Henry and Dr. Jeff Arrington last summer to organize everyone’s input into a concise plan concentrating on four elements of the university’s mission: academics; recruiting, admission and retention; our Christian identity; and fundraising. Not only is the plan required for SACS accreditation, but its implementation is essential to the university’s continued growth.

 “It’s easy to get stuck in the present and not think strategically,” said Arrington, Director of Strategic Planning. “We know education is a changing field and changing faster and faster and faster. If we allow ourselves to get stuck in managing what we’re doing without planning and looking into the future, that could be the death of our university. This is true for any industry, but more so for higher education now than ever before. As a Christian higher education institution, we have to think about how we recruit, attract and retain students who fit our mission and values and how we help others understand the value of a Christian education. This strategic plan lays out specific things in order to attack these challenges.”

What developed from those main areas of focus eventually became goals to elevate academic standards; create intentional recruiting, admissions and retention efforts; embrace our Christian identity; and seek external funds to support critical projects.

“Our intent is to transform our campus culture in the traditional program on our main campus and on our extended campuses and online presence as well,” said Faulkner President Mitch Henry. “We’re intent on delivering the highest quality and most authentic education experience for our students. Unlike any other time in my experience higher education seems to have been hijacked. I’m seeing on college campuses across this country a culture that more and more suppresses ideas rather than welcomes them. Faulkner education is an education that elevates human beings because they are God’s children. That’s what we hold, those lofty core traditional values that genuinely care for people.”

The second part of the strategic plan is to transform the way Faulkner brings students to campus and takes care of them through to graduation. 

“I believe we can do a better job of informing potential students about us, engaging and admitting new students on our campus and doing the things that are needed to help make them successful while they’re here so they stay here,” Henry said. “The framework is already there and part of the plan is adding to that framework.”

The third part of the strategic plan focuses on embracing and celebrating the university’s Christian identity. 

“Our focus in a Christian university should be on Christ and if we have that core foundation of faith from that, so many good and wonderful things will follow,” Henry said. “It helps us prioritize. It means having meaningful spiritual experiences on campus for our students in our traditional program and for our online students to engage in spiritual formation and for our adults and health sciences and law students as well. It only happens if we’re intentional.”

The final part of the strategic plan is seeking external resources and stewardship of all of our resources to support the university and the items needed to implement the first three goals of the strategic plan. 

“Stewardship means adding to our resources and raising money on an annual basis to supplement what we do and add programs and personnel and experiences and build buildings and pathways and bridges that are needed on this campus,” Henry said. “And also, to raise money to build for the future by building our university endowments. I’ll be spending a lot of time over the next five years hopefully working on that fourth strategic goal which is to raise money.”

Faulkner vice presidents, Board of Trustee members, deans, faculty, staff and students were selected to form committees to focus their ideas and discussions on one of the four main goals. They were asked to each present 10 leading ideas to Arrington, who then asked them to narrow the list down to five. 

From there, topics were reviewed in depth and brought before the cabinet for feedback. Arrington organized the committees again for a final review meeting before he set to work revising, editing, writing, explaining and organizing each topic of concern under the appropriate goal. A first draft was proposed to the cabinet and then presented before the Board of Trustees. 

The final draft of the Strategic Plan was unanimously affirmed by a vote from the Board of Trustees at their April 2023 meeting.