CD Program’s Strategic Planning Process

Four years ago, the CD faculty engaged in an extensive process to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the CD program at SFSU. The process was complex and difficult, but also extremely rewarding and highly beneficial to the program. The process became an example for other Communication Sciences and Disorders programs (Robinson, Graham, Epstein, & Graham, 2008).

In Fall 2012, with the help of Dr. Shannon Mong, an external strategic planning facilitator, the faculty members re-engaged in an even more involved process of strategic planning process that involved vision development, reflection, and articulation of strategic directions. This process utilized a Participatory Action Research approach that drew on the input of many partners of the CD program, both within and outside the university (Robinson, Epstein, Graham, Solomon-Rice, Yu, & Henry, 2012). We worked through 5 phases of strategic planning over the entire Fall semester:

  1. Preparation & Design: In August, a six-member faculty design team defined the focus question that the planning would address, “In the next 3 years, how can the SFSU Communicative Disorders Program anticipate and respond to the needs of our undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and our many communities — fostering their success and being a cohesive, high quality program?”
  2. Assessing Our Current Reality: In October & November, we reviewed the history of the CD program, interviewed key stakeholders, and held 2 day-long meetings to discuss the trends that could support or impede the CD Program’s work.
  3. Developing a Practical Vision: In November, we brought together the faculty and other key stakeholders to create a shared picture of the future.
  4. Identifying Underlying Contradictions: We also took a steely eyed gaze to the barriers that may block our progress towards the vision. As the group surfaced these barriers, we also made it possible to address their root causes.
  5. Developing Strategic Directions: In December, we focused on identifying creative, practical actions that would deal with the identified blocks and move the CD Program towards its practical vision.

The work we’ve done up to this point has been arduous, but we’ve managed to lay a solid foundation for the next step — a focused implementation of our strategic plan. We will be focusing on 3 main areas: a) showcasing the field and our program, b) providing an exemplary education, and c) promoting excellence across our faculty and professional communities. Some success indicators for each of these areas include:

  • NSSLHA Chapter recognition at ASHA
  • More CD representation in the department, college, and university
  • More online features of CD students and faculty
  • Support for nontraditional graduate students
  • Distance learning
  • Realignment of the undergraduate & graduate curriculum
  • Proposal for a leveling program
  • Increased number of publications that focus on collaboration
  • Online community
  • Development of an Evidence-Based Practice library

There is still a lot of hard work ahead, but the CD faculty is encouraged by this excellent beginning towards the realization of the CD Program’s vision.

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Robinson, N. A., Graham, M. S., Epstein, L., Graham, B. J. (2008, April 15). Strategic
planning in CSD program: The San Francisco State example. The ASHA Leader, 13(5),

Robinson, N. A., Epstein, L., Graham, M., Solomon-Rice, P., Yu, B., & Henry, M. (2012). The Best Friend Model: Strategic Planning for a Community of Practice. Session presented at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association Annual Convention, Atlanta, GA.

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