Strategic Plan (2020-2023)


Context of the Plan

ASHE has grown from a small group of scholars that could meet once a year in a few conference rooms to a complex organization drawing over 1500 researchers to an annual meeting.  At the same time that higher education research has grown into a thriving field, society has undergone technological advances that allow for new way of organizing meetings, forming intellectual communities, and communicating scholarship.  We in higher education have also seen threats to traditional forms of professional associations, changes in revenue sources, and opportunities to adapt to expectations of contemporary membership.  In spite of organizational growth, expansion of modes of professional expression, and understanding these threats and opportunities, ASHE has never had a strategic plan. In 2019, the ASHE board of directors began the process of strategic planning. Building from positions of financial and membership strength, and incorporating core values of scholarly quality, inclusion, and equity, we solicited volunteers from the membership to engage in a year-long process that resulted in this plan you are reading.

The Plan

While our original intent was to create a six-year strategic plan to bring our Association through its 50th anniversary, we changed course a bit. Upon reading the recommendations of the strategic plan workgroups, we realized we needed to first solidify our foundation before expanding.

Since ASHE was founded 44 years ago, we have largely conformed to the conventions of other scholarly associations: offering an annual conference, publishing journals and books, setting standards of quality of through the review process, and recognizing achievement through association awards. In the last decade, ASHE has accelerated expansion of membership, conference proposals submitted, conference attendance, and programs and services offered. The field has met this expansion with much excitement and momentum. However, it has also challenged us as a scholarly association to reflect upon who we are and where we are going.

While much has changed since 1976, the foundation of our Association remains strong. When ASHE was formed out of the American Association for Higher Education, it was to create a community of scholars. As such, this plans seeks to re-focus ASHE on this foundation, recognizing advances in the meaning and experience of “scholarship” in the 21st century. This plan seeks not to layout revolutionary ideas, but instead to build upon this foundation.

The first question we had to answer is “Who are our members?” The core membership of ASHE consists of higher education researchers within the United States. While these researchers include faculty members, graduate students, administrators, and those who work outside of the academy, members are nested within an ecosystem of students, administrators, practitioners, and society. Our association occupies a unique space in the higher education realm, offering a home and resource to researchers. At the same time, ASHE has members with expertise that could and should impact practice.


In alignment with our history and our membership, ASHE will be an organizationally just association that uplifts members through:

  1.     Sustaining a relevant, innovative, and meaningful annual conference.
  2.     Communicating scholarly research in traditional and innovative ways.
  3.     Advancing members’ research, teaching, and advocacy skills and impact.


Phase I: Alignment and Re-Alignment (2020): The immediate focus will be to continue the conversations and work started within the strategic planning workgroups. ASHE will spend a year continuing to evaluate, aligning, and re-aligning our processes, policies, and procedures.

Phase II: A Re-Focused Organization (2021): ASHE will build upon the foundation of Phase I to expand our services and programs, including developing strategic partnerships and outreach.

Phase II: Preparing for the 50th (2022): ASHE will engage in a new strategic planning process.