Strategic Compass - Strategic Compass - Christopher Newport University
Captain Chris statue with trees in the foreground and Strategic Compass logo overlay

Strategic Compass

To thrive, Christopher Newport University must be forward-thinking and competitive. We need to be innovative and optimize our resources. We need to have a clear vision and direction. We need a strategic plan. 

Our plan is called the Strategic Compass. Everyone at CNU is invited to have a voice in how the Compass guides the future of the University. Every idea and every perspective matters and is essential to the success of the effort.

This will take time and commitment. We need everyone involved and everyone’s best thinking. The journey to create the Strategic Compass is as important as the results and where they take us.

We’re not just planning for the future; we’re ensuring it.


Strategic Planning Steering Committee (work sessions)
  • January 19, 2024

Previous Meetings

  • December 15, 2023
  • December 1, 2023
  • Strategic Planning Steering Committee: September 13, 2023, November 3, 2023
  • Strategic Plan Town Hall: October 23, 2023


The following updates were shared with the Christopher Newport community via email.

Dear Christopher Newport Community,

President Kelly launched an important initiative to develop our Strategic Compass which will help determine our vision, direction, and strategic goals. Everyone is invited to have a voice in how the Compass guides our future. Every idea and perspective matters! Here is how you can contribute:

  1. Visit the CNU Strategic Compass website and click on the button to “Take Survey” and contribute your thoughts. The direct link to that tab is here: You may contribute anonymously or leave your name. Either way, please take that very brief survey!
  2. Another way to contribute is to attend the Strategic Plan Town Hall Listening Session on Monday, October 23, from 4 -5:30 p.m. in the Torggler Presentation Hall. President Kelly will be present to receive comments with a focus on two open-ended questions: (1) How is our university doing? and (2) What are your hopes for CNU? Each speaker is asked to limit comments to two minutes so that more people can speak. There will be boxes with index cards for anyone who would rather offer their thoughts in hard copy. We are working with the Student Government Association so they can host a similar listening session on Monday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. More details will follow!
  3. Special research teams called Stakeholder Synthesis Teams have been created and they will help connect with the people in our community, such as students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and local leaders. These teams are busy gathering insights in various ways from a sample of their assigned stakeholders and will report their findings to the Steering Committee. You may hear from a member of those teams, so please respond!

You can keep up with the process by checking the Strategic Compass website at There is a timeline of the entire Compass process on the website. You also can see who is on the Stakeholder Synthesis Teams and who is on the Steering Committee, and you are welcome to reach out to them. A sincere thank you is due to each of those members! Thanks also to Willy Donaldson, Amie Dale, Jim Hanchett, and Claire Rooney for their substantial work supporting this effort. It is an exciting time to be involved with CNU as we help write the next chapter of this special and amazing university. If you have questions about the Strategic Compass planning process, you are warmly invited to contact me!

Bob Colvin
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives or (757) 594-7972


The Compass Town Hall Listening Session with President Kelly is Monday, 23 October, at 4 p.m. in the Torggler Presentation Hall. Please attend if you can!

Thanks to your good work, we remain on track with our Strategic Compass development. As shown on the attached list of steps, we are on Step 5. Our Synthesis Teams provide their findings and assumptions from the external scan next Friday, October 27.

Then, the Steering Committee meets on November 3 to finalize the external scan and develop key success factors! (Step 6).

You may find it helpful to look at the attached list of steps, particularly those between now and December 15.

Thank you for helping make this process successful! See you Monday.


CNU’s Strategic Compass Steps in the Three-Phase Process


PHASE 1 – External and Internal Scan, KSFs, and Critical Issues -- Fall 2023

  1. Establish the Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) - 28 July 2023
  2. SPSC to finalize the workplan (13 Sep) and create Stakeholder Synthesis Teams (SSTs)(20 Sep)
  3. Communication Plan - Announce the process and structure.
    • Create the Strategic Compass website and publicize it.
    • Share the process from the outset, and then provide regular updates to stakeholders
    • Create the Google shared drive with resources for teams.
  4. Define Values What are the non-negotiable values we will pursue and advance?
    • See the values in comments from President Kelly’s inauguration address, and oath of office.
  5. External Scan from 26 Sep through Oct 27 by Stakeholder Synthesis Teams (SSTs). Also review publications and external trend data. Identify findings and assumptions. Transmit their written report on Step 5 to the SPSC by Fri Oct 27
  6. SPSC meets Nov 3 and finalizes external findings and assumptions, and then identifies Key Success Factors (KSFs). Communicate those KSFs to the Teams
  7. Internal Scan Oct 27- Nov 27 by Stakeholder Synthesis Teams (SSTs)– What are we good at doing and where should we invest our limited resources in doing better?
  8. SSTs articulate findings and assumptions from the internal scan. SSTs transmit their written report on the internal scan to the SPSC Mon Nov 27
  9. SPSC meets Dec 1 to review Internal Scan’s findings and assumptions. Begin discussion of Critical Issues and Priorities.
  10. SPSC meets again on Dec 15 to finalize Critical Issues and Priorities. This is the first cut at Cardinal and Ordinal Compass points.

Phase 1 is to be completed by the end of Fall 2023 Semester

PHASE 2 – Mission, Vision, and writing the Strategic Plan – Spring 2024

  1. SPSC to review the Mission (if change is needed) – Why does CNU exist? What would NOT occur if CNU closed? What are our legal requirements?
  2. SPSC to review the Vision. Living into our values in the environment, who will we BE in the future? Where are we headed? If we could craft the University of our best hopes, have the impact that is most important, and is sustainable in our external environment, then what would this look like in 5 years?
  3. Draft Mission and Vision are circulated to sample stakeholders for feedback.
  4. Major Objectives---Finalizing Cardinal and Ordinal Compass points – In pursuing our Vision, what must be our major accomplishments in the next 5 years?
  5. Communicate objectives with sample stakeholders. Feedback? Adjust?
  6. Strategies – How will we achieve the major objectives?
  7. Measurable goals defined and the dashboard is created.
    • People, time, and budget are allocated.
    • IR and Assessment heavily involved.
  8. The Draft Strategic Plan is presented to President Kelly – By March 2024
  9. President briefs BoV and the final plan is published and broadly distributed.

Phase 2 is to be completed by the end of Spring 2024 Semester.

PHASE 3 – Implementation of the Strategic Compass – Beginning July 1, 2024 

  1. These goals are implemented by the University’s faculty and staff.
  2. Review the dashboard quarterly. Adjust course as needed. Communicate our results regularly.

Dear Christopher Newport Community:

The Strategic Compass planning process is on track with our published timeline!

With your help, information has been collected about how the world outside CNU affects what we do. Nearly 200 people have shared their insights through the Compass website survey form. There have been wonderful in-person listening sessions and discussions with faculty, staff, and students. The Stakeholder Teams have been busy researching the external environment.

We are now looking more internally, at what we do best and where we can improve. Your ideas will help there, too, and more listening sessions are currently being held. Plus, you can still contribute ideas by using the survey found here.

The Strategic Compass Steering Committee will meet again on December 1st and 15th, to review and study all of the information that has been collected. More updates will follow.

Thank you for making CNU a place anchored in excellence, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Bob Colvin
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives

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