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Previous Strategic Plan

Sonoma State University’s existing strategic plan, drafted and approved in 2009, encompassed the academic years 2008-09 to 2012-13. The present benchmark now gives us the opportunity to review and revise the existing plan for 2014-2019. Constituencies of the university have determined what previous goals have been met; what local, state, and national circumstances have changed; and what goals should be revised or newly formulated to address the university’s changing needs for the next five years. This revision builds on SSU’s key areas of distinctiveness: its innovative programs, its unique resources, its significant geographic location, and its position in the CSU and in its surrounding community.

Sonoma State University is poised to become a showcase for innovation and a model 21st century public university. The university has met a set of goals in the past decade, some of which have created new resources that can be leveraged to develop new goals for the institution. We want to build on our strengths and support curricular, programmatic and organizational innovations that will make SSU a destination campus regionally, nationally, and internationally. These strengths begin with the university’s legacy and commitment to its identity as a public liberal arts institution with Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) standing. SSU is a professional university built on a liberal arts foundation that now extends into science, technology, business, and education. It is a university committed to recruiting, retaining, and supporting a diverse student population and to increasing student access to the highest quality education by keeping the costs of that education within reach of the California population we serve. Sonoma State University understands shared governance as fundamental to achieving any of its future goals, both as the desired structure and practice for all institutions of higher learning and as a model of civic engagement for our students.

To this core identity, we have added new academic and co-curricular programs that focus on supporting students across their entire college career, enriching their educational experience, and providing them with meaningful, relevant engagement with their communities and the world. These programs include the Freshman Year Experience and other School-based First Year Learning Communities, School-based sophomore year programs, and a robust Student Leadership program. New campus-wide programming facilities based in the HUB: A Center for Diversity, Vitality and Creativity, and the Center for Community Engagement increasingly serve to integrate curricular and co-curricular programming efforts.

The university has made significant investments in physical resources, completing several construction projects listed in the previous strategic plan. The Green Music Center is now open, including the academic space provided by Weill Hall and Schroeder Recital Hall - -. These two facilities, adding to a visual arts building and to a renovated Person Theater, position SSU as having perhaps the best arts facilities in the CSU. The opening of the university’s new Student Center, combined with the adjacent Recreation Center has created a central core for university student life. Campus structures vacated by this reorganization are being remodeled to boost the classroom capacity for instruction and to create new hubs for international education and for wine business education, a program for which SSU is already a recognized world leader. These new or renovated physical resources join existing distinctive university facilities and preserves that include the Jean & Charles Schultz Information Center, and the Galbreath, Fairfield-Osborn, and Los Guillicos Preserves. In addition, SSU is home to a number of regionally and nationally recognized school-based laboratories, production facilities, research and teaching collections, and infrastructure elements. Together, these resources make SSU a uniquely situated university poised to make a significant educational difference in the region, in the state, and on national and international fronts.

Finally, Sonoma State University draws much of its distinctiveness from the combination of its relatively small size and its predominantly residential campus. Recognized nationally for the quality of its residential student housing, SSU is well positioned within a broader local community that is undergoing its own dynamic change. The university’s service area is transitioning from a largely rural economy and community to one that is increasingly more socially and culturally diverse, economically innovative, and globally connected. Looking ahead, the university has an increasingly prominent role to play in this changing local environment. Consequently, its more significant role in the community and region will provide educational opportunities for SSU students that extend beyond the classroom. Broadening our community reach throughout the six county service areas will help the university stay on this frontier of regional needs and technology. Dramatic evidence of this potential is demonstrated by the innovative university-community programming partnerships that engage students, faculty, and other constituencies: the Water Works Initiative, the Engineering Industry Advisory Board, and the Wine Business Institute are recent examples of these collaborative efforts.

What follows is a set of strategic areas that are based on those identified in the 2009 plan, which have been revised and updated to meet the new circumstances. These are the areas for which SSU will have an overarching objective and supporting goals. These supporting goals, for which strategies should be developed, indicate a pathway to fulfill our mission and progress toward our vision. These areas can be divided into three basic categories: 1) key programmatic areas and personnel requirements (such as Academic Programs), 2) overarching values, principles, and aspirations (such as Diversity), and 3) key means or methods for achieving the goals in all other areas (such as External Support).

1. Key Programmatic Areas

Student Experience

Strategic Objective: Sonoma State University will offer an array of programming that engages students in an educational experience that emphasizes creativity, critical thinking, community engagement, collaboration, and communication.


  • Provide SSU students with a top ranked (among peer institutions), quality educational experience and university environment that promotes in our students critical thinking skills, imaginative personal growth, collaborative engagement with the diverse world they live in, and creative exploration of the changing world around them.
  • Provide all students with the means of achieving timely graduation without sacrificing the high quality of the degrees they earn.
  • Enhance and support the integration of curricular and co-curricular programming to create a holistic and engaged educational experience.
  • Promote and cultivate a healthy campus community.
  • Cultivate an inclusive sense of belonging and strengthen an SSU community identity.
  • Foster ethical, reflective decision-making and personal responsibility.
  • Value and promote diversity, respect, and civility toward others.
  • Provide creative scholarship, inquiry or performance opportunities for every student.
  • Provide community involvement and civic engagement opportunities for every student.
  • Support student personal growth, self-knowledge, social development, and career planning.
  • Provide necessary support for and access to the full range of quality advising, counseling, and other student services needed to attain these objectives.
  • Enhance infrastructure and services to support all aspects of the educational experience at an active residential campus.

Academic Programs

Strategic Objective: Sonoma State University will promote top quality academic programs that develop students’ capacity to think critically, be creative, collaborate, communicate, and engage in their communities.


  • Sustain and develop challenging, innovative, relevant, and intellectually rigorous academic programs that engage students and faculty in life-long learning, inquiry, creativity, and reflection.
  • Enhance infrastructure and services to meet the evolving pedagogical and curricular needs of programs.
  • Provide necessary resources and services to support timely graduation rates for students while sustaining high quality degree programs
  • Provide a rich educational experience that gives voice to multiple viewpoints and creates spaces for respectful dialogue.
  • Provide necessary resources and a supportive environment for faculty scholarship and professional development.
  • Strengthen the currency, coherence, effectiveness, and distinctive liberal-arts-and-sciences character of our academic programs.
  • Establish cultural competence and civic engagement as general learning outcomes across the curriculum and co-curriculum.
  • Foster the development of information literacy and competency in the use of technology.
  • Articulate academic programs with clear career paths that address the economic and social needs of the community.
  • Provide balanced support for a high-quality curriculum across all areas: General Education, the majors, and graduate programs.
  • Encourage program innovation and development by enabling faculty collaboration across departmental and school units, with co-curricular units and programming, and with community partners.
  • Expand accessibility of instructional materials, universal design, and faculty training in implementing strategies for designing courses with accessibility in mind.
  • Support the university Library and its faculty as a critical element in delivering academic excellence.

Faculty and Staff

Strategic Objective: To continue to deliver the highest quality academic programs and educational experience for students, Sonoma State University will ensure that its faculty has both the requisite opportunities and resources to create and renew their professional capacity. Similarly, staff will receive training and opportunities for professional growth so that optimal collaborative potential will be fostered to achieve with faculty partners programmatic goals for departments, centers, and disciplines.


  • Support an environment that will attract and retain faculty and staff and contribute to their professional growth and their ability to support the University’s mission.
  • Attract, hire and retain excellent, diverse faculty and staff in sufficient numbers to accommodate enrollment growth, address workload issues, and deliver the curriculum.
  • Increase teaching effectiveness through the appropriate use of technology.
  • Support comprehensive faculty and staff professional development and training opportunities.
  • Increase faculty’s capacity to sustain their professional activities in teaching, scholarship, and service.
  • Enhance cultural competence and inclusive climate for faculty and staff.
  • Value and promote diversity, respect, and civility toward others.
  • Support community-building and networking opportunities among faculty and staff.
  • Support the new Faculty Center as a focus for faculty professional development and collaboration.
  • Develop means for easing the cost of living and working in Sonoma County for our faculty and staff.

2. Overarching Values, Principles, Aspirations

Intellectual Curiosity

Strategic Objective: Sonoma State University will promote an atmosphere of collaborative learning, critical thinking, scholarship and creative activity, maintaining and developing its programs so that faculty and students will partner in achieving the educational mission of the university.


  • Offer a General Education curriculum that enables students to develop their intellectual capacity, social and global knowledge, critical thinking skills, and zest for lifelong learning.
  • Increase support for collaborative research between faculty and undergraduate students.
  • Ensure that current technology is available to provide relevant instructional tools and to develop information literacy and technological competency in students.
  • Employ service learning as a tool for intellectual growth and community outreach.
  • Provide educational opportunities that promote the development of creative thinking skills and artistic pursuits.

Diversity and Inclusiveness

Strategic Objective: Sonoma State University will foster a constructive learning and living environment that honors the rights, safety, dignity, and value of every individual. It is fundamental to our mission to promote a civil, respectful, and inclusive community, and to oppose acts of racism, religious intolerance, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and harassment, bias against those with disabling conditions, or other forms of intolerance or discrimination.


  • Ensure that all student, faculty, staff, and administration constituencies are representative of the diverse population of California.
  • Promote a campus climate of civility and respect.
  • Prioritize cultural competence in all aspects of university operations.
  • Foster awareness of and sensitivity toward all stakeholders in the culture of SSU.
  • Assess curriculum for inclusive cultural content and pedagogical processes that promote a multiplicity of cultural perspectives.
  • Recruit and support students, faculty and staff constituencies that reflect the diverse population of California.
  • Facilitate and coordinate outreach to P-12 school systems and community colleges; and to commercial, political, and nonprofit organizations that serve underrepresented populations at SSU.
  • Support educational programming and professional development that values differences in culture, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, ability, gender, national origin, race, color, age, and religious beliefs.
  • Prioritize inclusiveness across all aspects of the campus infrastructure, programming, and environment.
  • Balance CSU system goals for timely graduation against the diverse needs, experiences, and academic plans and progress of our student body.

Community Involvement and Civic Engagement

Strategic Objective: Sonoma State University will build strong partnerships with our surrounding communities, thus providing our students with opportunities for engaged service that will punctuate their education with clear, relevant and meaningful connections with their contemporary society. Our graduates will go on to become leaders in their own communities, committed to civic engagement as an integral part of being an educated citizen.


  • Build collaborative relationships with local communities in the surrounding region to foster educational, social, cultural, and economic development.
  • Identify and strengthen community involvement and civic engagement opportunities for students and faculty in the curriculum and across all university programs.
  • Enhance support for the SSU Center for Community Engagement and other campus-based community outreach and partnership programs.
  • Provide strong leadership in developing, strengthening, and coordinating partnerships and collaborations across the six county service areas, its municipalities, and among the range of stakeholder groups in the university’s service area.
  • Increase participation and attendance of university and community members at university cultural and athletic events
  • Strengthen the role of the university as a resource in the economic development of surrounding communities.


Strategic Objective: Sonoma State University will define, organize, fund, and implement sustainability programs and structures. Students, faculty, staff and administrators will build a campus environment that focuses on the environmental, economic, and cultural implications of sustainability. The university will expand academic programs for students and faculty, support sustainable technology and planning on campus, and partner on and off campus to improve the University’s sustainability profile.


  • Empower students to contribute to sustainability in their careers through curricular and co-curricular programs engaging the campus and the community.
  • Continually lower campus natural resource use, considering best sustainable practices in buildings, water use, energy, food service, facilities, residential life, procurement, grounds, and waste diversion.
  • Promote sustainability in the SSU service area through partnerships between community organizations, faculty, staff, administrators and students.
  • Build common cause across campus constituencies to develop a sustainable campus environment.
  • Seek external support for sustainability programs and activities.
  • Position SSU as a leader in regional sustainability.


Strategic Objective: In today’s world, individuals, businesses, and organizations must collaborate and compete locally and globally. As a public institution serving the people of California, Sonoma State University will think and act strategically in response to the challenges posed by the international mobility of knowledge, belief, talent, technology, and capital.


  • Prepare an increasingly diverse generation of students for success in a world that is multicultural and globally interdependent.
  • Develop a sustainable financial model to support SSU international education.
  • Increase the admission, retention and graduation of international students to SSU on a par with other CSU peer institutions.
  • Encourage programming that recognizes and validates the connections between the multilingual and multicultural communities of California and larger global issues.
  • Support the development of faculty-led international travel and learning programs for SSU students.
  • Integrate a critical understanding of global and international issues into the university curriculum and co-curriculum.
  • Establish resources to support faculty in internationalizing the curriculum.

3. Means, Methods, Strategies

Enrollment Management

Strategic Objective: To achieve the kind of student experience expressed in the university’s strategic goals, Sonoma State University will manage the planned growth in student enrollment, including all aspects of recruitment, retention, and progress to graduation.


  • Develop a comprehensive enrollment management process and strategy.
  • Set and achieve optimal enrollment targets, maximize student retention, graduation, and satisfaction.
  • Develop and implement strategic objectives in diversity, cohort distribution, and distribution of majors to support the mission of SSU.
  • Create and maintain a sustainable enrollment balance as students matriculate through their university experience, with particular attention to the growth of majors, and the relative resources needed for lower and upper division students.
  • Recruit more students nationally and internationally.

External Support

Strategic Objective: Due to the fundamental shift in state support for public higher education, Sonoma State University will develop and implement strategies to acquire external support and partnerships to advance our educational mission.


  • Develop infrastructure and plans to increase private and public sector support for the university mission.
  • Meet CSU mandate to raise private funds equal to 15% of our General Fund appropriation
  • Increase investment in the Development, Alumni and University Affairs operations to bring them in line with appropriate CSU benchmarks in order to raise funds for university educational priorities.
  • Grow the SSU Endowment by 50%.
  • Prepare for and launch a comprehensive university-wide fundraising campaign to raise the level of excellence in all aspects of academic and campus life.
  • Expand support for research, scholarship and instruction from external sources.

Internal Resource Management

Strategic Objective: Through consultation and collaborative planning and oversight, Sonoma State University will seek to utilize and maintain its resources in the most effective ways possible, implementing economic efficiencies and enhancements.


  • Address infrastructure capacities and quality across campus units, focusing on sustainability as an overarching objective.
  • Provide needed space capacity across all campus areas, including programs, services, and student residences.
  • Expand resource development for research and scholarship opportunities by addressing administrative needs across all university divisions for pre-award support, grants compliance, and grant development.
  • Address changing campus administrative, instructional, academic, and student information technology needs.
  • Provide clear and accessible documentation on the allocation of resources with the goal of achieving parity with comparable institutions.
  • Develop and support efficient mechanisms for faculty, students, staff and administration to participate in effective shared governance.