On Feb. 9, President Beck Taylor sent an email to the Samford community announcing the unveiling of a new “strategic plan” for the future of the university. Several emails have been sent since that first one, revealing events that will kickstart the new plan. Among the planned events are town hall meetings for students, faculty and staff, as well as dates for visits to specific cities to hear from alumni, parents, pastors and supporters. Some Samford students and faculty, however, have expressed confusion on what exactly this strategic plan entails.
Chief Strategy Officer Colin Coyne has an important role in this new plan in light of his recent appointment to Vice President for Finance, Business Affairs, and Strategy, which was announced on Monday, March 21 and will go into effect on July 1. In a recent interview, Coyne explained the details behind President Taylor’s strategic plan.
According to Coyne, the plan involves lots of interviews, travel and talking to constituents across the country to “identify themes that matter most to the university.” The world of higher education is a competitive and ever-changing market, and it is up to Coyne and the team of people working with him to keep up with this market.
“The strategic plan is about doing the right thing but also making sure that the resources are aligned to do those things,” Coyne said.
Coyne said that a large part of the strategic plan is changing the nature of discourse on campus and in the community. He aims to create an environment that “invites people to say what’s really on their hearts and on their minds” and to be a “place for the very difficult and challenging conversations, showing the world what it means to be civil and have civil discourse even when we strongly disagree.”
Coyne believes that this starts with the students. According to Coyne, a feedback survey sent to students revealed the immense differences in each person’s Samford experience, depending on their gender, race, socioeconomic background and involvement on campus. As part of the strategic plan, Coyne wants to use that data to increase Samford’s graduation rate.
“The minute we admit someone to the university, we should believe that they have the capacity to succeed,” Coyne said.
Coyne discussed his new role and how this will play a part in the strategic plan. Coyne believes that joining finance and strategy will bring together the mentalities of both looking toward the future and looking at what needs to be done right now. Budgeting and strategic planning must go together.
Coyne also spoke about the newly formed University Council. Undergraduate students, graduate students and additional faculty were nominated to the council, which has about 60 members. Each member serves as an ambassador to the area of campus that they represent. The slogan of the council of which the members are constantly reminded is: Respect for all. Love toward all. Grace to all.
Coyne said he is very optimistic about the future of Samford and excited to see where the strategic plan leads the university.
“I don’t lose sleep at all over whether Samford will be here in ten years,” Coyne said. “I’m petrified by the thought that we will be mediocre.”