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James Madison University desires a strategic planning process that is comprehensive, inclusive, dynamic, accountable, and clearly communicated to all students, faculty, administrators, and staff.

In 1998-99 President Rose formed a Centennial Commission. He charged the commission members to assist him in defining the characteristics that will describe JMU in 2008 and to offer recommendations that he and the JMU Board of Visitors should consider as the university seeks to become the institution the commission envisioned. The commission considered the changes that are occurring in the nation and in higher education as JMU enters the new century and reflected on how JMU's historic and current strengths will guide it into a transformed future.

The commission made the following recommendation about the strategic planning process:

"JMU’s long-range planning process will encourage strategic thinking at all levels of the university and will foster a sense of community through a participatory and mutually-respectful approach to decision-making in which all involved constituencies cooperate and work together to achieve shared goals."

Accordingly, the following aspects of the strategic planning process have been developed and are being implemented.


The following are the definitions of terms used within this document to describe JMU's planning processes. The definitions are offered to clarify possible misunderstandings about the terms.

  • Mission Statement: JMU has had a Mission Statement for many years. In 1999-2000 the Mission Statement was revised. This Mission Statement appears in all major documents of the university, including the undergraduate and graduate catalogs, and on the web on the JMU Plans Web site.
  • Defining Characteristics: In June 1999, 29 Defining Characteristics were developed to describe ways in which the mission will be pursued. The Madison Commission refocused and consolidated the 29 characteristics to 17. The Defining Characteristics can be viewed here.
  • University-wide goals: Each year the President and division heads revise and develop a set of university-wide goals that relate to the Defining Characteristics. The University Goals can be viewed here.
  • Objectives: Annually the division heads develop objectives that relate to the university-wide goals. The AVPs/deans, and unit heads are encouraged or directed to develop objectives that relate to the division's objectives and university-wide goals. An example of an objective can be viewed here.
  • Action Items: These are specific steps to be taken to accomplish an objective developed by a division head, AVP/dean, or unit head. An example of Action Items can be viewed here.
  • Expected Changes: Expected changes are the outcomes that should occur as a result of an objective being achieved. An example of Expected Changes can be viewed here.

Intended Outcomes For The Planning Process

  • University-wide goals directly relate to the JMU Mission Statement and Defining Characteristics;
  • University-wide goals contain measurable objectives and relate budget to outcomes;
  • Appropriate and measurable educational outcomes and action items that relate to JMU's Mission Statement and Defining Characteristics are developed and achieved;
  • Appropriate and measurable administrative objectives and action items that support the JMU Mission Statement and Defining Characteristics are developed and achieved;
  • Accurate and timely resource needs and budgets to support the educational and administrative objectives and action items are developed, provided to the appropriate offices, submitted to the Budget Office, and funded as appropriate;
  • All university-wide personnel are knowledgeable about how the planning process operates and relates to their functions;
  • Annually the accomplishment of objectives is appropriately evaluated;
  • Appropriate feedback about the achievement of university-wide goals and objectives is provided annually for accountability and program improvement; and
  • Feedback is used to create and/or modify university-wide goals, objectives and action items to address deficiencies or new opportunities.

Annual Goal and Objective Development

Annually, the President and division heads review and develop university-wide goals that relate to the Defining Characteristics. These university-wide goals are communicated throughout the divisions. The division heads, their deans/AVPs, and directors develop objectives and action items that relate to the university-wide goals.

The divisions, colleges, and departments use the Planning Database to record university-wide goals, objectives, action items, intended outcomes and evaluation procedures that relate to the Defining Characteristics. These university-wide goals are communicated within each division and among all divisions to eliminate redundancy and encourage collaboration. As needed, the divisions, colleges, and subunits submit budget initiatives for their objectives that relate to the Defining Characteristics and university-wide goals to the Budget Office. Specific expected outcomes are developed for each objective.

Assessment, Evaluation, and Feedback

The collection of assessment (instructional) and evaluative (non-instructional) information is vital for accountability, program improvement and external reporting.

Assessment and evaluative information for instructional and non-instructional divisions, colleges, and departments is collected annually (annual reporting) and during scheduled program reviews. The results of the annual assessments/evaluation and scheduled program reviews are communicated within the departments and to the appropriate supervisory levels. As needed, recommendations for improvement are developed.

Annually the accomplishment of the university-wide goals and division, college, and department objectives is evaluated, and the results are recorded in the Planning Database. See the annual report from Institutional Research that was generated through the Planning Database. The results are also reported to external agencies as needed for university-wide accountability.

JMU Planning Database

In Fall 2000, the University embarked on an ambitious project to improve the efficiency, comprehensiveness and communication of strategic planning processes. A Web-based Planning Database was developed and implemented in May 2001. The system has since been upgraded. The planning system is used by all academic and administrative units at the university. Access the Planning Database via the Web: https://secureweb.jmu.edu/computing/planning/