2015 Goals for Ashford University

setting goals

We all set goals. Sometimes we establish goals for ourselves, and other times we establish them for our families or the organizations where we work or volunteer. Goal setting is a natural occurrence and is found in virtually all cultures and countries around the world. Personally, I find it useful because it forces me to focus my attention on what’s important.

There are many different ways to set goals. A gentleman once told me that if you are a hard worker and a willing team member, you will soon be overwhelmed with opportunities, projects and things to do. His advice to me was, “Rich, keep your eye on the ball!” It’s a simplistic directive, but it’s crucial. You have to focus on the “ball” rather than distractions to be successful. And you have to set clear priorities to know what the "ball" is.

Another way to think about goal setting is to ask yourself, “How will I be evaluated?” Or, even better, “Two years from now, what do I want to have accomplished?”

But, these concepts are so much easier to think about than to do! I know I have lost the same ten pounds numerous times.


Here at Ashford University, goal setting takes a more focused and serious role. What do we need to do to better to serve our students? To be a stronger business? To keep costs, and therefore, tuition, under control? We are aided by metrics and key performance indicators (KPI), but we still need to make choices.

To help guide the goal setting process this year, we are starting to use a new format called SMART. It stands for:


As we establish our 2015 goals, our outstanding Director of Planning Jacquie Furtado will be taking advantage of the SMART format. It works at the individual level but can be a little nerdy if you try to use it with your family or friends. It’s up to you, of course.

Ashford University Goals

What are the big goals I am thinking about Ashford University? I keep the core list pretty simple:


  • a good review from WASC, our accrediting body
  • improve retention
  • hit enrollment goals
  • add new programs
  • raise the employee engagement satisfaction scores
  • provide a stable and sustainable working environment

It’s a short list but a tall order. But these are the things that get me excited to come to work each day ready to charge up the hill again.

Personal Goals for Dr. Pattenaude

Now on a personal note, I think the hardest goal for me is to find time to do nothing - to truly relax. I have to be doing something. The closest I come to achieving this goal is by trying to read for thirty minutes each night. I just finished Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown and am now working on Unbroken by Laura Hillendbrand. Both of these novels are quite motivating…all about overcoming adversity and challenge. Next up on my list is Sycamore Row by John Grisham; I read all his books.


So as we launch into 2015 I feel optimistic. We are setting real and reasonable performance goals. We have good people in leadership roles and great employees.

I wish you all a great 2015! Get ‘er done!

Dr. Richard L. Pattenaude is the President and CEO of Ashford University.


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