WKU releases new draft of strategic plan


Nicole Ziege

A new draft of WKU’s strategic plan for 2018 to 2028 has been released ahead of the WKU Board of Regents retreat on Thursday, Aug. 2.

The strategic plan is “a carefully defined roadmap that will guide the university throughout the next decade,” according to the draft.

“It focuses on student success and ensuring that our campus environment attracts the highest quality faculty and staff, and it renews our commitment to being fully engaged in our region and the commonwealth while providing a global context to the WKU Experience,” according to the draft’s mission statement.

The strategic plan was created over the last year with six working groups meeting throughout the year and several forums held for public input, as previously reported by the Herald.

Kirk Atkinson, associate professor of information systems, was a member of the steering committee that helped create the strategic plan and was involved with creating the initial draft for the plan.

Atkinson said that creating the strategic plan has involved meeting with students, faculty, staff and community members. He said one of the most important parts of the plan is that it was created from a student-centered perspective.

“I think it’s very solid,” Atkinson said, referring to the plan.

The Herald reached out to other members on the strategic plan steering committee, but has not received responses from them.

President Timothy Caboni said in a campus-wide email on Wednesday that the Board of Regents will vote on the strategic plan during its meeting on Friday.

“We worked for a year together on our strategic plan, which is beginning to take its final shape now, and I’m excited about where this will lead us over the next decade,” Caboni said in his email.

The new draft is an updated version of the previous strategic planning draft, which was released in April. The new draft’s release comes before the strategic plan’s official unveiling at the August convocation.

The draft of the plan focuses on three sections: the students, the university and the community. For every part, the plan provides goals, strategies and ways of measuring the success of the goals with provides possible targets for 2027-28.

Bob Skipper, director of media relations at WKU, said that the draft is still subject to change and its similarity to the completed strategic plan that will be unveiled in August remains to be seen.

Here are some of the highlights of the new draft:

Our Students

To “ensure WKU student completion and success,” one of the plan’s targets is to increase the first-to-second year retention rate of first-time, full-time students from 69.8 percent in 2017-18 to 80 percent in 2027-28, according to the draft.

Another target of the plan to ensure student success is increasing the percent of first-year, full-time students who are underprepared in English or mathematics to complete a “credit-bearing” course in those respective subjects by the end of the fall semester a year after entering.

For English, the plan aims to increase the percent of underprepared first-year, full-time students who take the “credit-bearing” course from 59.3 percent in 2017-18 to 100 percent in 2027-28. For mathematics, the plan hopes to increase the percent from 38.7 percent to 100 percent, according to the draft.

The plan mentions creating a “Comprehensive Advising Program” to assist students’ success. The program involves generalist and specialist advisers, trained faculty and other support staff.

In the program, the advisers and students will create individualized personal development plans that will “serve as a guide for the pursuit and completion of a four-year degree that leads to a successful career or entrance into graduate school,” according to the draft.

For promoting student diversity, one of the plan’s targets includes increasing the first-to-second year retention rate for full-time, first-year underrepresented minority students from 57.7 percent in 2017-18 to 80 percent in 2027-28, according to the draft.

Our Hill (The University)

To increase faculty participation in programs offered by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, one of the plan’s targets is increasing student enrollment by 5 percent in online classes and classes that use accelerated five-week formats, from 36,220 students in 2017-18 to 38,031 students in 2027-28.

To help incentivize and support research and creative activity, the draft suggests creating an Office of Undergraduate Research, among other strategies.

Our Community and Beyond

To continue WKU’s international reach, the draft of the plan suggests continuing to recruit, retain and graduate an international student population and integrating them into the WKU community.

Another goal for continuing international reach includes increasing the number of students graduating in a given year who have participated in at least one study abroad or study away course. The plan hopes to increase the percent from 11.19 percent in 2017-18 to 15 percent in 2027-28, according to the draft.

You can read the full draft of the strategic plan here.

This story was updated with comments from President Caboni on Aug. 1.

Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.