Strategic planning meeting covers structure, identity

Amelia Brett

The second strategic planning meeting of the semester met to discuss strategies to identify WKU’s strengths and tackle the university’s future identity and goals on Thursday night in Downing Student Union.

President Timothy Caboni and the strategic planning committees exchanged plans for improving WKU’s organizational structure, research, identity and student importance. An additional discussion included creating better opportunities for students through a closer community.

The six committees each represent a different areas of WKU and answer to the Steering Committee, headed by professors Paula Potter and Bruce Shulte. The committees had previously met to plan approaches for the main ideas for improvement and plans to for WKU for the next 10 years.

Committee members divided into rotating groups on Thursday to discuss how they believe current and future goals should be approached.

Multiple groups discussed how students could be prioritized as a bigger focus of the university. This included discussing availability of resources and a new view of student hierarchy within WKU.

“We’re thinking too safe,” Christian Ryan, a co-chair of the Budgeting, Efficiency and Infrastructure committee, said. “Our ideas need to be much bigger.”

Ryan, sustainability coordinator at WKU, said students are a part of the several layers of the university, and there needs to be a way for them to be put in the middle. Ryan added that one of the common topics in her group was about creating a better connection on campus. She said organizational changes could help improve this.

“If we have a culture of caring on campus, they can be more successful in the long run,” Jennifer Tougas, a member of the Budgeting, Efficiency and Infrastructure committee, said.

Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said more students could be included in groups to help achieve this. Multiple committee members also deliberated on the structure of academic organizations.

Breanna Harris, a member of the Budgeting, Efficiency and Infrastructure committee, said WKU could encourage a family type of identity. She said this could mean creating less of a barrier between college and department communities.

Another topic discussed was how cost of attending college could affect diversity. This included the idea of putting more money toward student aid to allow a greater number of students to consider enrolling at WKU in the future.

Dawn Hall, a member of the Student Success and Experience committee, said the focus should be to set priorities before budgets. Hall, director of the School of University Studies, said some themes discussed in her group were innovation and efficiency for student accomplishment.

“We need something that binds [students] to the institution and keeps them moving forward,” Jerry Daday, a co-chair of the Student Success and Experience committee, said.

Daday, executive director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at WKU, said binding students to the univeristy could create a cycle where some alumni may return to WKU and help students.

The committees should also consider a plan for the first and second years of a degree program to be more meaningful for students, Daday said. He said this would include a financial plan that students would receive starting in their first year to keep them on track.

Surveys are being developed to gather information for trying to improve the quality of life on campus, the Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors committee said. They said these surveys will need more time before being conducted.

The next strategic planning meeting will take place on Dec. 6 in DSU at 6 p.m. in room 3023.

Reporter Amelia Brett can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].