If anything, the problems now facing higher education should have taught us the need for sound long-range planning. Many of today's conditions-the decrease in the population of traditional 18- to 24-year-old students, the deteriorating infrastructure of higher education institutions, the obsolescence of research equipment, and the stagnation of faculty-could all have been predicted five or ten years ahead of their impact. For many colleges and universities, even those with a long-range planning strategy, it was not the case, however. The reason is that much of the planning in higher education is based on the assumption that what has happened in the past will happen in the future; institutions would do better to try to anticipate events that might differ from the economic, social, and political conditions of the present.

The processes of planning over the past decade should also have taught that, for changes to occur within the institution to meet the changes of the external environment, the entire institution must in some fashion be involved in planning. Sudden institutional change is unlikely to be successfully or harmoniously accepted without the involvement of both administrators and faculty.

This report by James L. Morrison, Professor of Education, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, William L. Renfro, President, Policy Analysis Company, Inc., and Wayne 1. Boucher, Executive Vice President, ICS Group, Inc., addresses both issues: the development of a strategy to assist the institution in anticipating a changing environment, and a process that will ensure a smooth integration of the needed changes.

Morrison, Renfro, and Boucher propose the technique of environmental scanning as an integral part of strategic planning. They develop numerous techniques that, when used with an institution-wide planning committee, can help predict both threats and opportunities to the organization. Some techniques, such as the Delphi technique, are currently being used. Other forecasting techniques, such as mathematical trend extrapolation, time-series models, and probabilistic forecasts, are less familiar to higher education administrators, although they have been used for many years in the business sector. In many ways, this report details a revolutionary new aspect in long-range planning. But success will be determined by the institution's commitment to develop a planning process that ensures the involvement of the entire institution and includes a systematic reevaluation of its plans in light of unanticipated events.

Jonathan D. Fife
Series Editor
Professor and Director
ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education
The George Washington University