Future foreseen on white paper

Ben Fitch

Response was scarce for some of the Strategic Planning sub-committees last week.

The committees’ white papers-drafts of suggestions from various sub-committees-were presented online until Oct. 23, open for suggestion. And the committees for academic programs, asset development and stewardship, and enrollment management received the most comments.

“It looks like there were some good suggestions for academic programs,” said Steve Angel, sub-committee chair and associate professor of chemistry.

The academic programs sub-committee will meet Friday to go over the responses. Their white paper is organized into three main categories-programs, organization and support. Under programs, the committee expressed the need for the localization of health services. Because of the various sub-disciplines in the Washburn health arena, there needs to be a centralized location of the multiple educational programs that are offered, according to the white paper.

Under organization, the sub-committee also expressed the need to “promote the primacy of academics.”

Angel said some of the suggestions in the white papers are born of problems that already exist on campus, but some, like making academics a primary concern, are simply issues of foresight.

“There are problems and there are opportunities,” he said, “I think what we are trying to do is focus on the opportunities.”

Even technology support, mentioned under the support category of the academic programs white paper, calls for technology to support the academic mission of Washburn. The recent problems with technology support are not directly mentioned, but it is expressed that there is a need to meet the demand for technology literacy.

“We are gathering information that’s really important for the next 10 years,” Angel said, “and the [strategic planning] process is responding to current initiatives.”

Learning environment deals extensively with the physical characteristics of campus. The sub-committee’s white paper suggests new buildings for the Law School and health sciences, and renovation of a list of structures including Mabee Library, Morgan Hall, Carnegie and Henderson.

Much of what is featured in the various strategic planning white papers is general suggestions. There are suggestions to achieve goals, but not many specifics. Gordon McQuere, learning environment sub-committee chair and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the broad presentation of suggestions was necessary.

“When a plan is adopted it will look a little general,” he said.

But the drafts will be changed after suggestions are considered.

“Planning should be an ongoing thing, it may be necessary to refine or tweak some of the goals,” said McQuere.

And then the revised drafts will be sent to the executive council for deliberation.

It is yet to be seen if the voice of faculty, students and staff will be snubbed out after the drafts enter the administrational decision-making stage. But McQuere said the current job is to present the executive council with information. The council will prepare the initial draft of the strategic plan from Nov. 11 to Dec. 3. The council will then present the initial draft to the Board of Regents.

And that is only the beginning.

Five more drafts will be reviewed and revised before President Farley and the Strategic Planning Council finalize the plan in March of 2010.

Before then, however, the council will need some feedback from the Washburn community, said Carol Vogal, student life sub-committee chair and Director of equal opportunities.

“There weren’t any comments,” she said, “you would think nobody read it or they liked what they read… I don’t know how to get people involved-short of running around with a sandwich board.”

The final impact of Strategic Planning is yet to be seen.

“If you put it in a nice binder and put it on the shelf, nothing will ever come of it,” Vogel said.