Blue Beyond Consulting

Case Study

Articulating a Unified Vision and Rolling Out a Strategic Plan as Three Universities Become One


Commonwealth University, a new entity created through the integration of three public institutions in Pennsylvania

What We Did

Facilitated a year-long process to align stakeholders around a shared vision and inaugural strategic plan for the newly-formed university


Unified constituencies around a shared vision, goals, priorities, initiatives, and metrics while overcoming resistance to change and building alignment and understanding

Empathetic Listening, Recalibration, and Uplifting Messaging Play Key Roles in Strategic Planning


Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education maintained fiscal stability while expanding students’ education opportunities by integrating Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities – three of the state’s northeastern institutions – into a single university. A change of this magnitude is naturally met with questions and resistance, which can make aligning around vision, mission, priorities and strategies challenging. The university needed to overcome these challenges to create its inaugural strategic plan to create a clear path forward.


Blue Beyond had been involved in strategic planning for one of the three institutions, so we were ready to hit the ground running when the consolidation took place. Initially, we partnered with the new university to develop its mission, vision, and values through an inclusive approach. We worked closely with leaders to help them recalibrate and navigate the monumental change, hosting a change management workshop and spending time listening closely and empathetically to concerns. Blue Beyond also developed key messaging and provided change management communications support to help stakeholders get ready to come to the table for fruitful strategic planning efforts.

Through careful listening, collaboration, and communication, Blue Beyond helped leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members recognize their shared experiences. This foundational work enabled stakeholders to articulate a unified vision and rally around a strategic plan for the new university that prioritized enrollment growth; academic excellence and innovation; student success; career readiness; diversity, equity, and inclusion; affordability and efficiency; and financial sustainability. Leadership workshops, stakeholder interviews, focus groups, surveys, and partnership with cross-campus steering committees helped uncover the common ground essential to an actionable strategic plan.


Early adoption surveys indicated that well over 70% of stakeholders embraced the new university’s inaugural strategic plan, reflecting how work spent helping constituents navigate change and recalibrate provided the collaborative environment necessary to move forward. Each former institution was represented in the new vision and faculty and staff felt committed and clear on the road ahead. Blue Beyond’s visual communications expertise played a key role in bringing the new plan to life through upbeat, inspirational imagery that celebrated the strengths and unique identities of each of the three original universities that united to form the new entity.

According to Cori J. Myers, Ph.D., Associate Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness, Commonwealth University, the resulting plan represents what is valued by stakeholders at individual campuses but pursues progressive institutional strategies to embrace change together. She writes: “As [our] steadfast partner, Blue Beyond Consulting impeccably facilitated the development of these inaugural strategic statements and plan. Their invaluable contributions encompassed foreseeing and navigating challenges, effectively managing extensive engagement strategies, conducting comprehensive and deep analysis, and synthesizing commonalities and differences into a unified voice and approach that can propel [us] into the future.”

Blue Beyond is honored to continue to work with the new university on a variety of initiatives to implement the strategic plan.

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