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Strategic Planning Process Overview

Overview of the 2017-2018 SSU Strategic Planning Process

This document provides a full overview of Sonoma State University’s strategic planning process during the 2017-18 academic year.

I. Background

At the request of President Judy K. Sakaki, the Strategic Planning Process was launched during the 2017-18 academic year. The commitment from the beginning was to create a comprehensive and collaborative institution-wide planning process that involved students, faculty, staff, community members, alumni, and business and community leaders. Changes in leadership, organizational structure, personnel, and student demographics provided the backdrop for the launch of the Strategic Planning Taskforce.

SSU Stakeholders —students, faculty, staff, alumni, business leaders, and community members—were integral in providing thoughtful feedback that helped shape the mission, vision, priorities, and values of Sonoma State to position itself as a leader in public higher education for the region and the state. The Strategic Planning Taskforce was fundamentally committed to the guiding principles of The Seawolf Commitment: integrity, respect, excellence, and responsibility, which provided a framework for dialogue and engagement with one another.

The goal of the 2017-18 planning process was to create a strategic plan that would serve as a road map for an implementation process from 2018-2025. The campus aims have a plan that lays the foundation for a unified approach to implementation of the mission, vision, values, and priorities.

II. Planning Process

The planning process in 2017-18 was divided into various phases:

Initial Phase of the Planning Process: Launched in the fall semester of 2017, the guiding framework of Share. Shape. Unite. was created and shared with SSU.

Share Phase: constituents at a university-wide launch event for students, staff, and faculty where community members had the opportunity to share their perspectives about SSU. Over 1,000 individuals shared their ideas about the strengths, areas of growth, and future vision of SSU. Data was also collected from over 1,600 SSU community members from an online survey that solicited feedback about mission, vision, and values.

This phase included the following input opportunities:

Share Events
Event    Dates
Launch Event December 6, 2017
SSU Community Survey  

December 2017 – February 2018
(1,681 responses)

Board Meetings    

January and February 2018

  • SSU Alumni Association
  • Sonoma State Entrepreneurial Services
  • Green Music Center
  • SSU Foundation
  • Wine Business Institute


Shape Phase: In the next phase, the Taskforce moved into the shaping aspect of the strategic plan and conducted SSU World Cafes that provided constituents the opportunity to dive deeper into the themes found from the launch event and survey. Local Business Community Leaders also had the opportunity to provide feedback at a Community Leader’s Breakfast.  In addition, the Vice Presidents of University Divisions were asked to engage their units, departments, and schools in an exercise that would culminate in a divisional template. Associated Students and the Green Music Center also participated in this process. This university-wide exercise relied on emerging themes from data collected earlier in the process as a starting point for dialogue and feedback into the process.

Shape Events
Event Dates
SSU World Cafés February 2018
Community Leaders Breakfast February 12, 2018
Unit + Division Strategic Planning
(All SSU divisions + Associated Students)
January – March 2018


Unite Phase: During this phase in March-April 2018, members of the Taskforce were charged with reviewing all data collected during the early phases. A writing group was asked to draft a strategic plan and drafts were presented numerous times to the Taskforce for input and review.  The Taskforce shared the draft of the plan with the campus community and invited feedback. The Taskforce also held a progress update event for the SSU community and planned a kick-off event for the Share.Shape.Unite 2025 plan.

Unite Events
Event Dates
Strategic Plan Progress Update April 18th, 2018
Kick-Off Party May 9th, 2018


III. Strategic Planning by the Numbers

Approximately 30,000 people were invited to participate in the SSU strategic planning process. Nearly 4,000 students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members participated in the strategic planning process. The entire community was invited to provide feedback on the strategic planning draft before beginning the referral process to President Sakaki. Participation by group broke down as follows:

  • 1,143 students (30%)
  • 1,680 faculty and staff (44%)
  • 538 alumni (14%)
  • 30 SSU board members (1%)
  • 124 community members (3%)
  • 336 people with multiple affiliations (9%)


IV. Strategic Planning Process Team and Support

The strategic planning process of 2017-18 would not have been possible without the incredible work of many members of the SSU community. Everyone who participated via the launch event, surveys, world cafes, board meetings, and other opportunities for input provided the Taskforce with critically important information that shaped the plan.

The individuals named below provided critically important leadership and support to the process:

Strategic Planning Taskforce Members

  • Co-Chairs: Dr. Carmen Works (Professor and Chair of the Faculty) and Dr. Lisa Vollendorf (Provost)
  • Faculty: Dr. Emiliano Ayala (Professor); Laura Krier (Senior Assistant Librarian); Dr. Carlos Torres (Lecturer)
  • Staff: Tramaine Austin-Dillon (Student Affairs), David Crozier (Administration & Finance), Julie Shell (Academic Affairs)
  • Students: Aren Ammari (Associated Students, Senator to the School of Social Sciences; Madeline Cline (Associated Students, Vice President of Finance); Alicia Sloper (Associated Students, Student at Large)
  • Alumna and Community Member: Anne Benedetti

Institutional Support

  • President: Dr. Judy K. Sakaki
  • (Interim) Vice President for Students Affairs: Dr. Michael Young
  • (Interim) Vice President for Students Affairs: Dr. Harry LeGrande
  • Vice President for Student Affairs: Dr. Gregory Sawyer
  • Vice President of Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer: Joyce Lopes
  • Executive Director, Green Music Center: Jacob Yarrow
  • Chief of Staff to President Sakaki and Interim Vice President of University Advancement: Dr. Patricia Hiramoto
  • Executive Assistant to the Provost: Pat Cunningham
  • Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Administration and Finance: Alicia Hodenfield
  • Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Advancement: Tracy Fleming
  • The Office of Reporting & Analytics: Sean Johnson

Consultancy Support

  • Leap Solutions Group-Scott Ormerod, Mary Henderson, Susana Morales