Dr. J. Luke Wood, with the page title, "2020 Vision"

NEW STRATEGIC PLAN FOR San diego state university

A Q+A with J. Luke Wood about the plan and what it means to the university and its alumni.

By Jeff Ristine

June 15, 2020


Since September 2019, the university community has been working to create a new strategic plan—coupled with a parallel plan for diversity, equity and inclusion—to set San Diego State University’s vision and mission for the next five years. Following meetings with campus stakeholders and feedback from nearly 4,000 individuals including alumni, the Strategic Planning Committee proposed five priorities in January. The five-point plan is intended to guide SDSU’s growth and commitment to teaching, research and creativity toward a goal of transforming student lives and engaging our communities. It will be formally finalized this summer.

360 spoke with J. Luke Wood, vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity and co-chair of the planning committee, about the development of the plan and what it means to SDSU and its alumni.

What makes this a good time for SDSU to develop a strategic plan, and why is it important to have one?

SDSU had a strategic plan under the previous administration, and the time frame for that has ended. There were a lot of great things accomplished, but now we need a new plan to help guide the next five years, for the university’s future and beyond. We have a new president who has a vision for our university. We have a lot of new faculty and staff. And we have a new campus that we’re building in Mission Valley that provides a lot of opportunities for us to think about how we can grow our research capacity, grow our impact on this region. Having a plan of how to do that is important so that we are being as strategic as possible with the resources we have.

Why are you excited about this plan and what it means for San Diego State’s future?

It will help unify the campus under a common mission and priorities. One of the areas that I’m particularly excited about is “We are SDSU,” which is really recognizing SDSU is multiple sites. We have our campus here on the Mesa, we have SDSU Imperial Valley, we have new microsites that are taking off across our community colleges, as well as SDSU World Campus, and so these create different opportunities for us to have the SDSU impact really at a national and international level.

What’s the most important element the San Diego State community should know?

It is not only a strategic plan, but a diversity plan integrated into one comprehensive plan. That is different from what most other universities have done. It represents a bold path forward for us to consider our future in light of the fact that we are in a global marketplace, and it allows us to think about how diversity allows us to be even better at what we do in research, teaching and service.

Was there anything in particular from the alumni that stands out as a contribution?

One of the more nuanced pieces was around our public image and the athletic prowess of the university, and how that has oftentimes served as a mechanism to ensure that our alumni remain connected to the campus.

What sets this strategic plan apart from the plans of other colleges and universities?

Building a campus in Mission Valley and the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion make this plan totally distinctive from what we would see anywhere else. We have a larger team—33 people who have been meeting regularly—in combination with the nearly 4,000 people who participated in the process thus far. That’s helping us be as reflective as possible of the wants, desires and hopes for the future that we have from our community.

What are the next steps toward implementation?

We will form a team that will oversee the implementation. It needs to be put into life and to serve as a living document that guides what we do. We’ll then probably have action teams around each of the strategic priority areas that will be comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, all coming together across areas to ensure that we are not missing any pieces.