The purpose of this qualitative study was to reveal the perspectives of leaders in academic business units/divisions regarding their ability to create and implement effective strategic plans. These individuals, who have been exposed in either their educational or experiential background to the models and practices of strategic planning, should be the expert in pulling together working strategic plans for their institutions. The data were collected from the higher education business unit leaders focusing on open ended questions in five topical areas: (1) education/experience, (2) accountability and transparency, (3) process and framework, (4) achievement of successful plans, and (5) budget integration. The researcher addressed limitations and challenges in each area. This research explored evidence of actual use of models found in literature, the extent to which they are used, and evidence of the successful implementation by leaders. Four emergent themes were the basis of four grounded theories for a strategic plan model in academia.