CALS Strategic Planning: Expanding Our Engagement and Next Steps

Western District Extension Meeting, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

How your voices are informing our planning process:

744 survey responses
74 1:1 meetings
9 focus groups with on-campus groups
14 focus groups with employees and stakeholders throughout the state
2,075 total points of input to date


Eastern Region Strategic Planning Focus Group, Lenoir County Livestock Arena

The CALS Strategic Planning process is forging ahead as the planning team continues to engage employees and stakeholders both on campus and across the state; their input and feedback will shape the goals and initiatives of our college over the next 10 years and beyond.

During March the planning team traveled across the state, from the coastal region to the mountains, holding a series of focus groups aimed at gathering feedback and input from our off-campus employees and external stakeholders.

“The differences amongst these groups are vast, not just in terms of their geographic location but also in their roles, the communities they serve, and the challenges they face,” said Rebecca Zuvich, Assistant Dean for Human Resources and Strategic Planning Team Co-Chair, who was in attendance for each session. “These groups are often lumped together as our ‘off-campus’ groups, but the support and resources each group needs to carry out their missions varies greatly. It was critical that we captured their input to ensure our new strategic plan is all-encompassing.”

Following the focus group sessions for off-campus employees and external stakeholders, the strategic planning team held focus groups at the five Extension District Meetings held across the state in late March and early April. During these meetings, NC State Cooperative Extension employees, partners, and stakeholders provided input that will inform the CALS Extension strategic plan, and will also be incorporated into the college’s strategic plan.

“The feedback we received from the Extension District Meetings was very similar to the off-campus focus groups,” said Robyn Stiles, Manager and Data Analyst for Emergent Method, the consulting firm leading the strategic planning process. “Amongst other themes such as communications, resources, diversity, and technology, discussions often pointed back to how each district, down to the county and communities within those counties, has unique goals and needs. In order to embrace NC State’s land-grant mission, understanding the needs and challenges of everyone that is touched by the college is critical.”

North Central District Extension Meeting, Betsey-Jeff Penn 4-H Center

Looking Ahead

Input received from the off-campus focus groups will be combined into a research report along with feedback and data collected over the past year from internal and external stakeholder groups through surveys, interviews, and small-group meetings. The report will be used to inform the draft strategic plan. Additionally, the strategic planning team will come together in April and May for a retreat focused on honing in on the data gathered to date and how it will inform the draft strategic plan. A second round of stakeholder engagements will be held in late summer with the final strategic plan slated for completion in late summer/early fall. 

“The enthusiasm and passion we’ve witnessed from all who have participated in the strategic planning process has been truly inspiring,” said John Dole, CALS Interim Dean, Associate Dean & Director for Academic Programs, and Strategic Planning Team Co-Chair. “We want you to know that your voices are being heard. It is through your voices that our college will continue to grow and make a profound impact on everyone we touch, locally and across the world.”

Follow the Process!

For additional information and updates on the CALS strategic planning process, visit our new webpage at: