Nov. 10, 2020
New book by Loren Falkenberg and Elizabeth Cannon explores strategic planning in post-secondaries
Universities comprise a big sector with over 28,000 institutions around the world. But there are no dedicated research journals that focus on strategic planning in higher education.
As she was involved in the 2011 and 2016 Eyes High strategic planning processes at UCalgary, Dr. Loren Falkenberg, PhD, a professor in the Haskayne School of Business, saw the lack of literature. She set about developing a book that brings together business theory and practical experience, all tailored for an academic environment. The result is Strategic University Management: Future-Proofing Your Institution, co-authored with Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, OC, PhD, UCalgary president and vice-chancellor from 2010 to 2018. The book is available on Amazon starting Nov. 10, 2020.
“We hope we've developed a basis for understanding strategic planning in an academic environment,” says Falkenberg.
Falkenberg sees four main audiences for this book: boards of governors and senior university leaders; government officials dealing with education policy; researchers interested in strategy in an academic environment; and people interested in the Eyes High strategic planning process (both in 2011 and 2016) at UCalgary.
“The book is aimed at multiple audiences and each one will take away key learnings,” says Cannon. “For boards, it is a clearer understanding of the important differences between universities and the private sector when it comes to strategy development and execution. For institutional planners and other academic leaders, it is a clear and accessible framework for strategy creation as well as integration into the institution's operations and resource allocation.”
Trudie Lee Photography
An academic institution is very different from a company. Consisting of multiple and diverse stakeholders in an environment similar to a small city, universities are largely dependent on government support and tuition for their operating funds, with philanthropic support providing opportunities for value-added investments. This income funnel needs to be balanced against the large amount of fixed assets an institution has, including tenured faculty and large labs.
“University leadership are not often trained in strategic planning,” says Falkenberg. “With the large amount of fixed assets that institutions hold it is imperative for them to be planning at least five years out.”
Overall the book is intended to be very pragmatic. The aim is to fill the knowledge gap that many higher education leaders have in developing and executing strategy. Cannon, BSc’84, MSc’87, PhD’91, drawing on her own experience, brings insights into leading a large organization with a complex governance system. Falkenberg, BEd’74, started her educational journey at UCalgary. She returned to UCalgary and has been a professor for over 30 years. Falkenberg brings to the book a depth of understanding of the academic environment as well as years of experience in business strategy.
“The uniqueness of developing and executing a strategy within an academic setting which has multiple — and often conflicting — stakeholders always interested me,” says Cannon. “The book provides the steps needed to develop and implement a strategy, combined with a focus on the importance of institutional culture.”