Case Studies

University Strategic Planning Process


Point Park University

The Hill Group's Role

  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Coordination
  • Communications Strategy Formulation
  • Change Management
  • Focus Group Facilitation
  • Survey Design & Administration
  • Data Analysis


  • Engaged stakeholders in focus groups, university-wide employee opinion survey, and individual interviews
  • Conducted SWOT analysis meetings with 23 academic programs and nine student affairs departments
  • Assisted faculty and staff to identify higher education programs to benchmark
  • Facilitated the development of new vision, mission, and values statements
  • Directed strategic planning committee in identifying four major priorities from more than 200 proposed strategic opportunities and issues

Point Park University engaged The Hill Group, Inc., to facilitate its strategic planning process from 2005 to 2007. This strategic planning process is essential to the University’s transformation from a small, liberal arts college to a university that offers innovative programs to more than 3,200 traditional students and working adults.

The Hill Group facilitated 13 focus groups that engaged more than 80 faculty and staff members. Next, consultants designed and implemented a university-wide employee opinion survey to test and validate the focus group findings. In addition, consultants and University administrators interviewed key stakeholders in Pittsburgh’s corporate, government, and foundation communities, as well as alumni. Focus group, survey, and interview information helped The Hill Group to design a strong framework for the strategic planning process.

Hill Group consultants, then, conducted SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis meetings with 23 academic programs and nine student affairs departments. The Hill Group also challenged SWOT meeting participants to identify peer, aspirant, and benchmark programs at other higher education institutions. Participants identified more than 130 potential benchmark programs. The University faculty and staff narrowed the benchmark program lists and conduct site visits at universities across the United States.

During this time, The Hill Group also facilitated a series of strategic planning retreats with University administrators and department leaders. Participants developed new University vision, mission, and values statements, which will be validated and refined by the University community in the following months. In addition, consultants directed strategic planning committee members in the identification of four major strategic priorities to address throughout the next several years. Participants chose these priorities from more than 200 potential strategic opportunities and issues identified in focus groups, surveys, interviews, environmental scans, and SWOT meetings.

The Hill Group continued to gather feedback on the University’s strategic planning process from internal and external stakeholders. Each academic program created a mission, vision, and planning team in alignment with the University’s new strategic direction deveolped with The Hill Group.