Strategic Planning


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Strategic Planning

Message from the President

For more than four decades, Rio Salado College has excelled as an innovative leader in higher education serving the unique needs of non-traditional students. From humble beginnings serving students in neighborhood schools, churches, and storefronts, Rio Salado has evolved into a national leader in online learning and the largest provider of customized education for diverse student populations in Arizona. As we begin a new era, we are proud of our legacy as a college without walls and exceedingly optimistic about the future.

To help guide us through the inevitable challenges and opportunities of a new era, I am pleased to present Rio Salado College’s new strategic plan. The new plan is a culmination of a process begun in 2019 when we as an institution embarked on a collaborative journey of self-evaluation, reflection, and discovery to redefine who we are and to determine our college’s future direction. The plan reflects the contributions of many who completed meticulous research, assessment, and analysis; participated in intensive work sessions; and facilitated thought-provoking discussions.

What began as a single committee working to build trust and value in our workplace evolved into a college-wide strategic priority of fostering a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging through four practices of engagement: mindfulness, empathy, happiness, and resilience. The goal of this important effort is to build an inclusive college community where everyone - every race, culture, religion, gender identity or orientation - feels welcome, valued, and supported.

Through an equity and inclusion lens, the strategic priorities of (1) increasing student goal attainment and (2) offering new micro-credentials are enhanced and strengthened, improving our ability to respond to the challenges many students face by creating innovative solutions and developing support systems designed to serve the needs of a diverse student body.

To further enhance our planning efforts, we enlisted the help of our students, alumni, staff, faculty, partners, and community members, asking them to share their thoughts and insights. Their input resulted in the creation of Rio Salado’s new mission, vision, values and strategic goals. The new strategic plan closely aligns with the strategic directions of the Maricopa Community Colleges, identifies our strategic goals for the next three years, and defines precise activities required to meet those goals. Rio’s new mission, vision, and values statements along with the Four Practices of Engagement serve as the foundation of the new strategic plan that will inspire and propel Rio forward. The plan is designed to be continuously evaluated, updated, and improved in response to new challenges and opportunities that arise over the course of the plan’s lifetime.

I would like to sincerely thank the College Development Team who provided the critical leadership to ensure the strategic planning process was collaborative and inclusive resulting in a plan that accurately reflects who we are and clearly identifies our goals and aspirations for the next three years. Special thanks to all 4DX Team Leads and coaches and to Institutional Research. Lastly, I would like to thank the members of the President’s Cabinet and President’s Advisory Council for their strategic insights and feedback during this process.

Today, we are witness to rapid and fluctuating changes within the higher education landscape. In response to a global pandemic and current realities, we have and will continue to successfully pivot to create, innovate, adapt, and adopt. We arrive at this inflection point with new confidence knowing that through critical reflection and sound planning, Rio Salado College is prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead. We arrive at this propitious moment galvanized by a higher purpose to “provide high-quality, flexible and accessible education to empower individuals, foster partnerships and strengthen communities,” and we are confident in our collective ability to achieve our mission and realize our vision to empower learners everywhere through innovative education.


Dr. Kate Smith Signature

President Kate Smith
Rio Salado College

Strategic Plan 2020-24
Strategic Plan 2020-2024 Download
Rio Salado Culture Page Download

Mission and Vision

Established in 1978, Rio Salado College is dedicated to providing innovative educational opportunities to meet the needs of today’s students. Rio Salado offers affordable access to higher education through college bridge pathways, community-based learning, corporate and government partnerships, early college initiatives, online learning and university transfer.

Our Vision

Empower learners everywhere through innovative education.

Our Mission

We redefine the educational experience by anticipating the needs of our students and future workforce. We support learners where they are and provide high-quality, flexible, and accessible education to empower individual goal attainment, foster partnerships, and strengthen communities.

Our Values

Rio Salado College honors everyone’s unique qualities with respect and dignity.

We Value:

  • Innovation and Learning
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Integrity and Stewardship
  • Sustainable Practices
  • Collaboration and Service

Our Practices of Engagement

To uphold our commitment to equity and inclusion, the college focuses on four key practices of engagement: mindfulness, empathy, happiness, and resilience. These four tenets are fundamental to the work of the college and creating safe and honest dialogue and action. The college prides itself on holding conversations with intentionality that look at data, ensuring that the data are shared across the campus and continuously used to drive student success.

RSC’s Strategic Goals 2020-2024

  • Goal 1. Increase student goal attainment 23% by 2024 with innovative and world-class experiences.
  • Goal 2. Offer 23 new micro-credentials by 2024.
  • Goal 3. Foster a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.