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2021 Planning Process Updates

August 23, 2021 | Final Vision, Mission, Strategic Themes, and Values and Behaviors Statements

Dear Student Affairs Team,

In just a few short weeks, we will be welcoming our new and returning Wildcats home to Northwestern!

I know I am seeing colleagues and friends across the country experience the excitement and energy on their respective campuses as students return, and I know that we will do all that we can to make sure our students feel welcome, connected, healthy, and grounded as they begin their fall term at Northwestern. It’s the work that we do in Student Affairs, and I know for our division, our students are what bring us energy and purpose.

Our purpose – something that is as critical for both our work and our own well-being– is what we have been collectively working to crystallize as our full division engaged in our strategic planning process these past six months. As was promised to you in last week’s Snapshot, I am excited to share with you both an update on our progress and the finalized foundational statements (vision, mission, strategic themes, and values and behaviors), which form the foundation for our division’s new Strategic Plan.

As has been shared on the strategic planning website and several communications to our team, SALT has  been actively working on finalizing these statements in anticipation of the start of the academic year.

I am pleased to now share with you all our final co-created vision, mission, strategic themes, and values and behaviors statements, which you can find here.  These forward-looking statements bring to life the important work we commit ourselves to doing every day. I truly believe these statements and how they frame our work will benefit our students, our division, and our university, and I am excited about the possibilities they afford.

Over the coming weeks, our SALT team will lead important conversations with their teams about these foundational statements for our work, specifically focused on how your area’s work aligns with the Division’s strategic direction. Once we are through opening and the first two weeks of the quarter, additional discussions will happen that will map each department’s purpose and goals to the new strategic themes. At the Student Affairs Fall Gathering, more information and a framework for these discussions will be shared. The goal is to have division goals, and each unit’s goals, connected to the strategic themes by the end of the fall quarter. Once these goals are in place, our strategic plan will be complete.

I again want to thank Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson and Rob Aaron for their coordination of this process, our NASPA Advisory Services partners and review team, the Strategic Planning Group, our Student Affairs Council, and most importantly – each of you – for your engagement and role in creating these statements. My sincere hope is that when you read these statements, and as you engage in your team conversations, each of you can truly connect the important work you do to our overall direction and purpose as a division. As I read them and consider their meaning, I find myself inspired and energized to commit to our mission-critical and important work on behalf of the students we have the honor to serve.

I remain grateful for your engagement in this process and look forward to working alongside you to bring our new strategic direction to life! 


With gratitude,

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier

July 15, 2021 | Update & Next Steps

Dear Student Affairs Colleagues,  
I hope your summer is going well and that you have been able to take some time to rest and recharge. I’m writing today to share an update with you on our strategic planning process. This process is critical to our long-term direction, and is one that is rooted in divisional engagement and transparency. We highly value the input of everyone in the Division about the future direction of this plan. We’re now about halfway through the process, and I am writing to provide you with another opportunity to participate in this process by providing feedback on the latest draft of the foundational documents for the future strategic plan. As we shared in the Snapshot and on the website, unit leads will hold meetings with team members to discuss the current iteration of our vision, mission, values, and strategic themes. There are two links in this message. The first, entitled “Northwestern Guiding Statements and Themes – proposed" is the primary document on which these conversations will focus. The following questions will help guide your conversations:

  1. In what ways do you see the feedback provided in the NASPA Advisory Services report reflected in draft foundational statements (I.e., mission, vision, values and strategic themes)?  
  2. How does your department’s work align with the foundational statements in the mission, vision, values, or strategic themes?  
  3. Does this draft depict the direction you believe the Division should be moving in the next three years? Why or why not?  
  4. What information, if any, is missing from this document?   

The second attachment is the “NASPA Advisory Services Strategic Planning Review Northwestern Student Affairs-Final.” This is a summary of findings from the strategic planning efforts conducted in the spring and early summer thus far. This document is provided for you as context for the external review team’s efforts to facilitate the strategic planning process. Members from the strategic planning team have been asked to bring your responses to the discussion questions to the next Student Affairs Council meeting on Wednesday, July 21. Your input, along with the input from Student Affairs Council, will be compiled and shared back with our external reviewers next week, and this input will be incorporated into a future draft of the Guiding Statements and Themes. 
As I’ve said many times, “People care about what they help to create.” It is my hope that you will take advantage of this opportunity to share your perspective, and help create the long-term direction for our division.
Please contact Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson or Rob Aaron for further clarification or should you have any questions. I am excited about the possibilities this plan will bring for our division, and for the students we serve. 
With gratitude,

July 12 | Strategic Planning Process Update

The Strategic Planning Group held two very successful virtual retreats late last week to take a deep dive into foundational principles of the Division’s strategic plan: the Vision, Mission and Strategic Themes. This work was facilitated by colleagues from NASPA Advisory Services. The results of this work will be compiled in a draft document (“Draft 1”) and shared with the Division, along with the NASPA Advisory Service Report of Strategic Review, on or after July 15. The latter report outlines our reviewers’ insights from the time they spent digesting the survey data, feedback obtained through the remote interviews and various other Northwestern Student Affairs documents.

Obtaining your feedback is very important to the Division. Therefore, we have asked each Strategic Planning Group representative bring their teams together between July 15-20 to discuss the draft documents and compiled feedback.  Strategic Planning Group members will bring all feedback to the Student Affairs Council meeting on July 21, and we will work to synthesize all the feedback and share it back with our colleagues at NASPA Advisory Services. 

The Division will then receive “Draft 2” of the Strategic Plan documents with this latest round of feedback incorporated therein on July 23. Between July 23-27, the draft, along with a short survey, will be available to the Division at-large for one more feedback loop to ensure everyone has had an opportunity to weigh into the process. Our NASPA Advisory Services facilitators will incorporate the feedback they received from the survey and make edits to the document one last time in advance of the final strategic planning retreat.  At the Strategic Planning Group’s final session on July 29, a final version of the Strategic Plan will be developed  and shared with the Division shortly after the SALT retreat taking place the first week of August.  

June 2021 Update


This is an update on the Division’s strategic planning this spring and into the summer. By now you should be aware that we are part-way through a strategic planning process, facilitated by consultants from NASPA Advisory Services. Thank you to those of you who responded to the spring survey and participated in the group interviews.  

 A smaller Strategic Plan Committee of is being formed with a staff member from each area represented in SALT along with the respective SALT representative. The strategic planning retreat committee members were selected because of a) the leadership role they hold within their respective unit, and b) their ability to represent the various needs of their unit at the larger Division strategic planning table. This group of 25 staff will be engaging with their unit to garner feedback that will inform our discussions during the three virtual strategic planning retreat sessions throughout the month of July. These sessions will be led by two of our NASPA Advisory Services external facilitators, Amy Vollmer and Joy Hoffman. 

Each Student Affairs staff member will be able to give feedback throughout the next phase of the process. To this end, several important dates are outlined below on the remainder of the process that will be carried out in June, July, and August. The highlighted portions below are opportunities for all staff members in the Division to provide valuable feedback to the consultants on the development of the strategic plan. Please mark your calendars!  

2021 Strategic Planning Process Timeline
June 21 Receive initial document from NASPA Advisory Services re: summary of survey and interview results collected earlier in the spring quarter 
July 8-9  Retreat Meetings 1-2 
July 15-20 Strategic Plan Draft 1 available for review by the Division; feedback will be gathered in departmental meetings 
July 21 Student Affairs Council Meeting: feedback from departmental meetings is compiled and shared with NASPA 
July 23-27 Strategic Plan Draft 2 available for review by the Division; feedback will be gathered via a short survey
July 29 Retreat Meeting 3: final version of strategic plan received from NASPA. Discussions on next steps determined 
August 5-6 SALT Summer Retreat 

If you have any questions about this process, please reach out to Rob Aaron or Lesley-Ann Brown-HendersonWe are eager to hear from you and wish you all the best as we wrap up the spring quarter! 

2021 Planning Process

Dear Student Affairs Colleagues,

I hope this message find you well, and that you were able to take a few moments for yourselves over this past Spring Break. As you may recall, I have been sharing that Student Affairs will undergo a strategic planning process this spring and summer. Our division has been operating under our current strategic plan for the past 8 years, and we all know that things have changed significantly in that timeframe. It is time for us to build upon the important work of the past, and revisit, review, and reshape our plan to align with current and future context, student needs, and key priorities. I am pleased to share that we will officially launch that process this quarter.

To help provide a framework for the process, we will be working with partners in NASPA Advisory Services. With the leadership of their director, Abby Vollmer, we will work with two additional consultants who will guide us through the strategic planning process.

As I am committed to an open and inclusive approach, there will be multiple forms of engagement with members of our division. We will begin division engagement on Monday, April 5, 2021, with the launch of the NASPA P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.S. self-assessment and strategic planning survey. Each of you will be invited to participate in this voluntary survey; know that we want your voice in this process so that our resulting plan is reflective of our collective vision and direction.

Once the survey is complete, NASPA Advisory Services will take the data and gather perspectives and feedback from campus community members. This work will focus on nine areas critical to Student Affairs:

  • student affairs policies,
  • resources,
  • alignment and partnerships with academic affairs,
  • compliance,
  • technology,
  • inclusion,
  • community,
  • evidence-based practices, and
  • student success efforts.
This instrument will also provide perspectives and feedback on the division’s current guiding statements (e.g. vision, mission, value statements, and guiding principles), current strategic plan, and topics to consider for our future strategic plan.

Following the launch and data analysis of the NASPA P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.S. survey, our NASPA Advisory Services consultants will begin a series of remote interviews with different constituents, including me, members of SALT, small groups of Student Affairs staff, students, and Student Affairs strategic partners in May 2021.The data collected through remote interviews and the NASPA P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.S. survey will be collated into a report that will inform the final step of the strategic planning process.

As a final step in the process, in July 2021, a subgroup of leaders in our division will participate in a multi-day retreat to take all of this data and make decisions regarding the various components of the plan. Their work will then be shared with the Student Affairs Council and the full division via feedback processes. The goal is to have a completed first draft of our new strategic plan in August, and officially launch the plan for the 2021-2022 academic year.

In addition to my role with this process, Rob Aaron, executive director of Student Affairs Assessment and Planning and Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson, assistant vice president for Inclusion and chief of staff will work together with NASPA Advisory Services, and facilitate the strategic planning process. I thank them for their support and leadership, and I encourage you to reach out to either of them with any questions or concerns.

I look forward to our collective participation with our strategic planning, and crafting the direction for our division together. As always, I appreciate all that you do for our division, our university, and most importantly for the students we serve.

With gratitude,

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Ph.D., CASP
Vice President for Student Affairs