Transformation 2028: Planning Process and Timeline

Transformation 2028: Planning Process and Timeline
A solid strategic planning effort requires time, commitment, and critical input from multiple campus stakeholders and voices. All of these elements have been present at Saint Mary's these past few years as the campus came together to envision and build what would become Transformation 2028.

Beginning with the formation of a strategic planning steering committee in 2019, an inclusive effort was designed and executed to gather input from a diverse cross-section of the Saint Mary's campus community. Included were campus-wide meetings and conversations, working groups, and prototyping of our foundations, opportunities, and strategic objectives. Students, faculty, staff members, and senior leadership all played key roles.


Initial Planning

President Jim Donahue formally launched the Strategic Plan process in August 2019 by writing:

In commencing our strategic planning process this year, we are embarking on an opportunity to rediscover the essence of our community, focus on our shared values and aspirations, and build upon our considerable assets to boldly imagine the next chapter for Saint Mary’s College. We intend to institute an inclusive and participative process that will affirm our mission, reassert our core commitments and clarify the University's long-term vision, priorities and goals. It is important that our planning process is designed to enable us to make swift decisions and provide timely direction while simultaneously reflecting our commitment to inclusivity and ensuring that all members of our community have meaningful opportunities to participate in a fundamentally collaborative process. This moment calls for game-changing boldness, ambitious thinking, and a willingness to imagine a future Saint Mary’s in a way that anticipates, rather than merely responds to, the changing context of higher education while simultaneously demanding actionable strategies and realistic and measurable goals informed by data. 

President Donahue formally appointed the Strategic Plan Steering Committee and charged it by asking three questions:

  • How will Saint Mary’s College continue to provide an exceptional, transformative, and deeply personalized educational experience that meets students where they are and empowers them to become their very best selves and how will we extend our impact in the future? 
  • How will Saint Mary’s College honor its commitment to constructing a supportive and inclusive campus climate that values curiosity, creativity, and a united community where diversity is respected, where no one is left out, and where everyone finds a place? 
  • How will Saint Mary’s College grow our influence and expand the impact we have not only on our students or on our campus, but in the world? 
  • Margaret Kasimatis, Former Provost, co-chair
  • Dana Lawton, Faculty (School of Liberal Arts), co-chair
  • Jennifer Pigza, Director, Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action, co-chair
  • Swetta Abeyta, Librarian
  • James Berleman, Faculty (School of Science)
  • Brother Chris Brady, FSC, BA ’75, Former Chaplain for Athletics (Mission and Ministry) and Auxiliary Visitor/Director of Saint Mary’s College of California Brothers Community  
  • Vidya Chandrasekaran, Faculty (School of Science)
  • Noha Elfiky, Faculty (School of Economics and Business Administration)
  • Legacy Lee, Director, Intercultural Center
  • Dennis Meiss ’69, Trustee
  • Kari Montero, Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Support
  • Natasha Munshi, Faculty and Interim Dean (School of Economics and Business Administration)
  • Laurie Panian, Former Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Tracy Pascua Dea, Former Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success
  • Mary Raygoza, Faculty (Kalmanovitz School of Education)

Four Distinct Planning Phases

  • The initial plan for developing the strategic plan was discussed and endorsed by the Academic Senate and Board of Trustees. 
  • Steering Committee appointed and charged by President Donahue.
  • Strategic Plan website launched.
  • Strategic Plan kickoff at All Faculty Day and All Staff Day, fall 2019.
  • Utilizing appreciative inquiry, an asset-based methodology, we conducted more than two dozen visioning sessions with faculty, staff, and trustees to uncover Saint Mary’s distinctive assets.
  • In addition, the College conducted a comprehensive survey of alumni, and engaged students, alumni, community members, and friends of the College in open forums and focused discussion groups. 
  • The Strategic Plan Steering Committee identified eight emerging themes and four cross-cutting topics based on their analysis of community input.
  • Utilizing Liberatory Design process, in consultation with the National Equity Project and Stanford to engage stakeholders in a creative process and practice to create designs that help interrupt inequity and increase opportunity for those most impacted by oppression, transform power by shifting the relationships between those who hold power to design and those impacted by these designs, and generate critical learning and increased agency for those involved in the design work.
  • The Steering Committee formed eight working groups consisting of faculty and staff to engage in deep discovery around each of the themes. Each working group is tasked with engaging stakeholders using liberatory design principles. (Dee below regarding working groups).
  • Test the strategic plan design with stakeholders through an iterative prototyping and feedback process. 
    • Prototype of Strategic Themes
    • Prototype of Vision, 
    • Prototype of Vision, Strategic Themes, Objectives, and Actions 2.0
    • Prototype of Mission, Vision, Values, Strategic Themes, Objectives, and Actions 1.0 
    • Prototype of Mission, Vision, Values, Strategic Themes, Objectives, and Actions 2.0
    • Prototype of Mission, Vision, Values, Strategic Themes, Objectives, Actions and Success Metrics 1.0 
    • Prototype of Mission, Vision, Values, Strategic Themes, Objectives, Actions and Success Metrics 2.0
    • Prototype of Mission, Vision, Values, Strategic Themes, Objectives, Actions and Success Metrics 3.0
  • Strategic Plan approved by Board of Trustees – April 2023. 

Working Groups

  1. Working Group: Student Success, Access and Affordability
  2. Working Group: Environmental Sustainability and Environmental Justice
  3. Working Group: Organizational Effectiveness and Workplace Culture
  4. Working Group: Internationalization and Global Mindset
  5. Working Group: Destination Campus
  6. Working Group: Alumni and External Engagement
  7. Working Group: Innovative and Transformative Undergraduate Programs and Pathways
  8. Working Group: Innovative Graduate and Professional Programs and Lifelong Pathways

The Steering Committee identified four themes that are deeply interwoven into and across each area. As a result, each working group is charged with addressing each of the following within their purviews:

Lasallian Identity: Examine each theme within the context of the College’s mission and its Catholic, Lasallian, and Liberal Arts traditions and prioritize recommendations that will advance the College’s Catholic, Lasallian, and Liberal Arts identity.

Financial Sustainability:  Examine the factors that are critical to the long-term financial sustainability of Saint Mary’s College and identify and prioritize recommendations that have the most potential for positive financial impacts to the College.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Examine opportunities to advance the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of our campus community and prioritize recommendations that will enhance cultural humility, engaged citizenship, and equity.

Social Justice: Examine opportunities for Saint Mary’s College to be a leader in social justice education, research, and advocacy and expand the impact of our engaged scholars locally and globally.

Each of the Working Groups will have access to all studies, surveys, and existing research as needed and will be provided support as it engaged the campus community to document each of the following:

Strengths: What unique assets do we build upon? What are Saint Mary’s College’s greatest strengths in this area? What are our most meaningful accomplishments and what capacity do we have?

Opportunities: What are Saint Mary’s College’s best opportunities to improve and realize future possibilities in this area? Where do we have untapped potential? What changes would you expect to see in the next five years?

Aspirations: What do we hope that Saint Mary’s College’s might achieve in the future? How will we distinguish ourselves from our peers in this area?

Results: How will we know we are succeeding? What will success in this area look like? What are the tangible, measurable indicators that will tell us when our goals have been achieved?

Each working group will produce a working paper that:

  • Defined and clarified the meaning and importance of the topic area, particularly in relation to the four cross-cutting themes;
  • Described key objectives in the area and the rationale for each objective; 
  • Established specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals;
  • Identified specific initiatives to realize these goals
  • Delineated metrics of success for each of these recommendations
  • Listed resources required to achieve these recommendations

Each of the working groups was conceived as a “design team” comprised of faculty and staff of Saint Mary’s College. Each working group was be charged with undertaking deep discovery to meaningfully engage community stakeholders in developing the central theme and its importance to the future of Saint Mary’s College in light of the four cross-cutting themes.

The working groups were not conceived as a collection of experts tasked with answering a set of fixed questions. Instead, these working groups were encouraged to be courageous and creative in engaging faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to rediscover the essence of our community, focus on our shared values and aspirations, and build upon our considerable assets to boldly imagine the next chapter for Saint Mary’s College.

The work produced by the working groups formed the basis of the 2020-2025 strategic plan. 

Working Groups Chairs and Members

Tracy Pascua Dea, Chair

Jenee Palmer Staff Academic Advising & Ach / High Potential Program

Jim Sciuto, Staff, Student Life

Julie Scaff, Staff, Academic Advising & Ach / Student Disability Services

Laurie Klizos, Staff, Business office

Loan Dao, Faculty, SOLA

Philip DeTonnancourt, Staff, Student Life / Campus Recreation

Shauna Widden, Staff, Advancement

Staci Byrne, Staff, Athletics

Swetta Abeyta, Faculty, Library

Tangela Blakely Reavis, Faculty, KSOE

Natasha Munshi, Chair 

Beckett Finn, Faculty, SOLA

Brother Ronald Gallagher, Faculty, SOLA

Cesar Ramos, Staff, Student Life / Student Activities

Courtney Lohmann, Staff, Advancement / Alumni Engagement

Paula Conrad, Staff, Student Success / Career and Professional Development

Philip Goodwin, Staff, Admissions

Robyn Walker, Staff, SEBA

Tom Carroll, Staff, Advancement

Zack Farmer, Staff, Advancement / Alumni Engagement

Brother Chris Brady, Chair

Ashley Rose, Staff, College Communications

Jen Herzog, Staff, Student Life / Student Activities

John Schneider, Staff, Art Gallery

Marcus Weemes, Staff, Student Life / Residence Halls

Mary Alice McNeil, Faculty, SEBA

Molly Metherd, Faculty, SOLA

Peter Alter, Faculty, KSOE

Rebecca Engle, Faculty, SOLA

Ryan Reggiani, Staff, Athletics

Michael Viola, Staff, Facilities Services

Jennifer Pigza, Chair

Ann Drevno, Staff, Sustainability Director

Collin Pugh, Staff, Student Success / SEAS

Jenna Sciarrino, Staff, Admissions

Joel Burley, Faculty, SOS

John Palmieri II, Staff, Copy Center-Duplicating

Lawrence A. Souza, Faculty, SEBA

Lori Spillers, Staff, Student Life / Campus Recreation

Manisha Anantharaman, Faculty, SOLA

Michal Strahilevitz, Faculty, SEBA

Suzy Thomas, Faculty, KSOE

Mary Raygoza, Chair 

Auston Stamm, Staff, Student Success / Student Disability Services

Jeannie Harberson, Staff, KSOE

Jim Pesavento, Faculty, SOS

Ken Otter, Faculty, KSOE

Laurie Edwards, Faculty, KSOE

Michael Lupacchino, Staff, Advancement

Nancy Lam, Faculty, SEBA

Noha Elfiky, Faculty, SEBA

Rogelio Lopez, Faculty, SOLA

Shane McCarthy, Staff, SEBA

Vidya Chandrasekaran, Chair

András Margitay-Becht, Faculty, SEBA

Bev McLean, Staff, Student Success / Career and Professional Development

Cathy Davalos, Faculty, SOLA

Erin Davis, Staff, Student Life / Campus Recreation

Gina Kessler Lee, Faculty, Library

Jim Sauerberg, Faculty, SOS

Julie Ford, Faculty, SOLA

Mary Beth Stadt, Staff, SEBA

Rachel Mauldin, Staff, Student Life / Campus Recreation

Sarah Dempsey, Staff, CILSA

Kari Montero, Chair

Aaron Sachowitz, Faculty, SOLA

Adam Cooper, Staff, Athletics

Ashley Machado, Staff, Center for International Programs

David Bird, Faculty, SOLA

Helga Lenart-Cheng, Faculty, SOLA

Hwa Seong (Christine) Oh, Staff, Student Success / SEAS

Liz Abrams, Faculty, KSOE

Marco Aponte-Moreno, Faculty, SEBA

Victoria Gonzalez, Staff, Student Life / Residence Halls

Yuan Li, Faculty, SEBA

Laurie Panian, Chair

Beth Johnson, Staff, Advancement

Courtney Gordon, Staff, Human Resources

Dean Nakamura, Staff, ITS

Evette Castillo Clark, Staff, Student Life

Jessica Porter, Staff, SOS

Jia Wu, Faculty, SOLA

Josh Haeffner, Staff, Student Life / Residence Halls

Karin McClelland, Staff, Mission and Ministry

Lino Rivera, Faculty, SOLA

Nicole Kavlick, Staff, Athletics

Samantha Alberto, Staff, Student Life / Residential Life

Notes and Sources

1: Equity based design approaches are designed to address common problems in traditional design approaches including: “group members unable to engage in authentic critical dialogue; lack of trust, especially across role/power and identity difference, that undermines team efficacy; the process doesn’t bring forward sufficiently creative thinking; urgency leads to hasty, misguided decisions; potentially powerful solutions are not accepted by leadership.” (National Equity Project’s Leading for Equity Framework).