Diversity, nontraditional education discussed at strategic planning forum

Faculty, staff and students gathered in the Faculty House on Thursday for a strategic planning open forum. Improving diversity across campus and offering more education options for nontraditional students were among the topics discussed. 

Monica Kast

Members from the strategic planning committees held an open forum on Thursday afternoon, where they answered questions from students, faculty and staff about the strategic planning process. 

The chair or co-chairs of each committee were present to answer specific questions for their committee, or to discuss the strategic planning process in general. 

Each committee began by discussing briefly where they stood in the process. 

Susann deVries, chair of the Budgeting, Efficiency and Infrastructure committee, said her committee has been looking at the budget “more strategically long-term” both for buildings and other types of infrastructure on campus. 

Jerry Daday, co-chair of the Student Success and Experience committee, said the committee has developed a vision statement to lead their committee throughout the process. 

“WKU students are the center of an inclusive, supportive and personalized learning environment that prepares them to lead succssful, productive and fulfilling lives,” is the vision statement, Daday said.

Lynne Holland, co-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, said her committee was looking for feedback on “how do we as an institution learn to become personally responsible for creating an environment where all of the faculty, staff and students can thrive.”

After each committee spoke, the forum was opened up to questions from attendees. 

Student Government Association President Andi Dahmer asked the Academic Innovation and Excellence committee if there had been discussion on removing the additional fees associated with online classes. As well as opening up more Colonnade classes to be offered online, in order to make those classes more accessible to all students. 

Alicia Pennington, representing the Academic Innovation and Excellence committee, said it was something she would take back to the committee for consideration. 

Dahmer also asked about the potential for the committees to work together, specifically asking if the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ccmmittee had worked with the External Relations and Alumni Engagement committee to assist with minority students who may be in need.

Molly Kerby, co-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, said they were working on improving communication in that area and were also looking into partnerships. 

Additionally, Dahmer asked if the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee had considered partnering with local elementary, middle and high schools to show “that college is an option.”

“Definitively yes,” Holland said, later adding the committee was “thinking about recruitment in ways that we haven’t thought about recruitment before.”

In response to a question from Mac McKerral, journalism professor, about gathering data, Daday said his committee has been focusing on what the identity of a WKU student is, while also working to make sure they “focus on quality and structure in all the classes we teach.”

“The one constant on this campus is students in classes with faculty, whether their in classes or online classes,” Daday said. 

Daday said there are issues with both online and in-person classes, and there needs to be a standard of quality for all classes at WKU. 

“So when a student pays $1000 for a class, they’re getting the best experience they possibly can,” Daday said. 

The next open forum for the strategic planning committee process will be held in February. For more information on meetings and each committee, visit https://www.wku.edu/strategicplan/.

News editor Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @monica_kast