The history of planning in U.S. higher education, over the past half century, can be divided into five rather distinct eras. Each time period possesses unique characteristics in terms of environmental conditions, management issues, decision making frameworks, and planning tools and techniques. Norris and Poulton (1991) provide a cogent historical description of the characteristics of planning from the 1950s through the 1980s and speculate as to what will occur in the last decade of this century.
During most of the 1950s, planning in higher education occurred under relatively stable conditions with steady enrollment growth. The primary management issues were related to facilities and developing new types of institutions. Institutional decision making, by and large, was by administrative fiat and intuition, and characterized as incremental and politically oriented. Planning techniques and tools were basically nonexistent or unsophisticated at best. The dominance of strong individual leaders drove much of the formal planning that occurred.
The late 1950s and 1960s witnessed a rapid growth in U.S. higher education enrollments and expansion of research and graduate education. Much of the attention of administrators was focused on facility issues, development of new academic programs, and institutional studies, all intended to address the expansion that was underway. The growing size and complexity of higher education necessitated a new approach to planning for expansion. During this period, attempts to apply management science techniques to higher education decision making and planning came into vogue. Advances in administrative computing made it feasible to use quantitative planning models and other management science techniques for formal planning purposes. Examples of these techniques include Judy and Levine’s Comprehensive Analytical Method of Planning in University Systems... [continues]
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