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story.lead_photo.caption An atypical April snow falls on the William Woods University campus Tuesday. William Woods President Jahnae H. Barnett announced the release of the university's 2021 strategic plan Tuesday during a virtual message. Photo by Ryan Boland / Fulton Sun.

William Woods University commemorated its 150-year history in 2020. Now, the university is shaping the course for what lies ahead.

William Woods President Jahnae H. Barnett announced the release of the university's 2021 strategic plan on Tuesday during a virtual message.

The plan is the product of a 2-year process and is a thorough strategy that outlines William Woods' future growth and stability. It involves guidance from the entire university and focuses on main priorities that include academic culture, communication, enrollment management, strategic partnerships and investing in facilities and key technology infrastructure.

"The hallmark of all effective organizations is the constant practice of planning for the future and extensive self-review," Barnett said in her remarks to the campus. "After decades of steady growth in enrollment, infrastructure and quality academic programs, we are poised to extend our continued success as an institution with this dynamic roadmap for where William Woods is going."

William Woods initiated the process of creating its strategic plan in the fall of 2018 to demonstrate a visionary approach to advancing the university's objectives. The disruption brought on by the coronavirus pandemic a year and a half into the plan's design forced William Woods to rethink its previous strategic planning assumptions.

Addressing COVID-19, decreasing traditional enrollments, public concern over rising costs of higher education, student debt, retention and campus diversity and inclusion are the most important challenges presently facing higher education. William Woods intends to answer those tests through deliberate and proactive strategic planning.

With the release of the plan Tuesday, the university intends to schedule year-long open campus forums related to all five strategic priorities. The plan will be subject to ongoing critical review.

"It is crucial that our strategic plan remains a living and breathing document, one that charts and shapes our future path and is reviewed and consulted on a regular basis," Barnett said in her remarks. "With all our campus constituents deeply involved and having an ongoing stake in the process, I have never been more convinced that our best days as a University are ahead of us."

The complete strategic plan can be found at www.williamwoods.edu/about/strategic-planning.html.

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