Strategic Planning Process

The University of Memphis followed a rigorous and inclusive approach to develop its Strategic Plan. A team, comprised of 11 representatives of our constituencies, led the strategic planning effort, which was launched with the following charter:

To develop a compelling, bold, stakeholder-driven, five-year Strategic Plan that builds on our current strengths and focuses on areas where we are best positioned to advance resulting in multi-dimensional approaches to achieving transformational goals in areas vital to our future.

The seven-month process consisted of three overlapping phases:


PHASE 1: Situation Analysis (AUGUST – OCTOBER 2022).

The Situation Analysis is an in-depth assessment of our University that provided a well-researched, fact-driven foundation for strategic planning. Six methods were employed to provide input to the Situation Analysis:

  • Interviews. Fifty-one in-depth interviews, averaging an hour and 20 minutes, were conducted with leaders of the University’s constituencies.
  • Listening Sessions. Nineteen listening sessions were conducted with University constituencies. More than 250 constituents participated.
  • Survey. We disseminated a survey to allow any constituent to provide input who was not interviewed or could not attend a listening session; 575 constituents participated.
  • Quantitative Analysis. Extensive quantitative analysis — mostly benchmarking against comparison groups — was performed; 90+ graphs were developed and analyzed.
  • Document Review. Over 100 documents were reviewed for content relevant to assessing the University and to writing our strategic plan.
  • Secondary Research was conducted in selected other areas. This included collecting and analyzing other universities’ strategic plans, researching Tennessee’s funding formulas and assessing Advancement’s “giving market.”

Inputs were synthesized into findings and conclusions, using the SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) framework and were incorporated into a comprehensive Situation Analysis describing the University’s current situation.


PHASE 2: Development of Mission, Vision, Goals and Principles (OCTOBER – NOVEMBER 2022).

Using the Situation Analysis as a reference, the Strategic Planning team was led through a series of exercises and workshops to develop the Mission, Vision, Goals and Principles (MVGP) that provided the framework for writing the strategic plan. The team also provided input on the sub-goals and actions required to implement the strategic plan’s goals and explanatory elements of the strategic plan’s principles. A survey seeking feedback on the Mission, Vision, Goals and Principles (MVGP) was disseminated to our constituents. More than 1,100 constituents responded. Based on their input, the MVGP was revised.


PHASE 3: Strategic Plan Development (NOVEMBER 2022 – MARCH 2023).

Using the MVGP, the Situation Analysis and other input, drafts of the strategic plan were created and disseminated to stakeholders for their review and feedback. This input was considered and reconciled, resulting in a finalized Strategic Plan that was approved by the Board of Trustees at its March 1, 2023, Board meeting.

Note: Strategic Plan Operationalization (Phase 4) will be developed after the Strategic Plan is approved by the Board of Trustees. This operationalization consists of 1) development of a detailed University Action Plan; 2) formulation of University Key Performance Indicators (e.g., metrics), or KPIs, with annual targets; and 3) creation of Unit Plans that align with and support the University’s Strategy. These documents will support, but are separate from, the Strategic Plan.

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