Strategic planning process kicks off

Callie Miller

President Timothy Caboni held a kick-off event for the new strategic planning committees on Monday night in Downing Student Union.

Caboni has created separate committees and appointed co-chairs for each committee. Those co-chairs then chose a variety of up to 10 other WKU students, staff and faculty to be a part of their individual committees.

Each group will help create a plan to help guide the university for the next 10 years. The current strategic plan formally ends in 2018.

The committees include Academic Innovation and Excellence, Student Success and Experience, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors, and Budgeting, Efficiency and Infrastructure. An additional Philanthropy and External Relations group will be formed at a later time.

Those committees will report to an overarching Steering Committee, headed by professors Paula Potter and Bruce Shulte.

Monday evening, the committees were organized into separate tables with microphones to record the conversations.

“I have an understanding of how I think this is going to go, but it’s not up to me,” Caboni said. “It’s up to us.”

Caboni charged the individual groups to “create an overarching goal statement for their area of focus. Additionally, underlying strategies should be created to support the larger goal.”

Among the goals for the collective groups are to improve student learning, create a practical and 10-year revisable roadmap for the future and revise the budget model to ensure resources are deployed in support of institutional priorities.

Committees will meet weekly and come together as a larger group monthly. October through December of this year will be used for data collection, assessment of strengths, challenges, opportunities and weaknesses and drafting of preliminary reports.

Nov. 9 and Dec. 6 are the next two meeting dates where committees will discuss their progress, things they have learned and solicit feedback.

“I think we should grab this opportunity to be innovative and creative,” Cheryl Stevens, Ogden College of Science and Engineering dean and member of the Steering Committee, said. “I like change, and I hope that we will generate aspirational ideals.”

One of the guiding questions Caboni asked committees to seriously consider, among institutional changes and budgeting priorities, was things WKU is doing now that have outlived their usefulness or are no longer core to the university’s mission.

“I think Dr. Caboni said something that was very energizing,” Psychological Sciences department head Kelly Madole said. “That we should be aggressive and creative and bold in our committees.”

Madole is a co-chair of the Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors committee. She added that she is excited to see the collaborations that come from these groups of people who wouldn’t typically have the chance to collaborate.

Working groups will each present a 10-page paper to the Steering Committee in December with five to seven goals to work on in the next decade.

In January, the working groups will hold open forums to share their draft goal, strategies and action items and collect feedback. They will compile recommendations for the Steering Committee by February. The Steering Committee will form a draft plan in March.

The committee will then present the plan to the WKU community and revise the plan based on feedback, and in August they will present the plan to the Board of Regents for approval.

Caboni began the night by saying that he will make the process as transparent as possible to the community and all WKU stakeholders. In the spirit of transparency, Caboni said each step would be shared with the community.

There will be a strategic planning website that will have milestones and news releases along with videos of events, draft reports, implementation updates and a place to share feedback.

“I want folks to understand that this is a process where everyone who wants to play a part will be heard and I think we have a tremendous group of folks who are volunteering to help shape the future of the university,” Caboni said.

Reporter Callie Miller can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].