The Strategic Horizon Program began in 2004 with Charter Members from community colleges from across the country.  Operating out of the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Postsecondary and Higher Education, the program was based on the shared belief that for the first time in their history, community colleges are in a position to move to the forefront of higher education and to build on the high profile that is being assigned to them by many quarters of society. The only things holding them back are resources and capabilities that, when fully developed, will enable them to operate at full capacity. The Strategic Horizon Program advances an agenda for reaching this threshold.

A strategic horizon college is an institution that has the capability to create value that enables it to identify and pursue opportunities that take it to a higher level of development. Colleges operating at this level have competencies in five areas:

  • identifying, creating and pursuing opportunity
  • knowing the value created for stakeholders
  • being fully aware of strategic capabilities
  • designing and managing change effectively
  • commitment to developing leaders throughout the Institution

Seven strategic areas were identified during the first year of the Strategic Horizon Program as in need of development. They are:

  • Change Design & Management
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Process Management
  • Creating Value
  • Communication
  • Organizational Culture Mapping & Change
  • Leadership Development

Key features of the program include: continuous assessment to determine capability in each strategic area; campus-based activity to improve strategic management capability in leaders across the institution using newly created tools and assistance from colleagues and experts; visits with high performing organizations inside and outside of education to learn new capabilities; a series of  Network colloquia in which participating colleges share learning to enhance their strategic capabilities; and collaborative efforts  to build a “curriculum” for the purpose of developing strategic leadership capabilities in staff throughout the institution.