Ever since University President Bob Bruininks announced his plans for University realignment, the composite pieces of the deal have received varying degrees of attention. Arguably, most of the focus has been on the closing of the General College and the combining of several other colleges, as well as speculations as to the ramifications of those decisions.
Unfortunately, the entire goal of strategic positioning has been lost in the shuffle. While Bruininks seems genuinely to want to improve the University and the success rate of its students, most University students seem unaware of how the plan will affect them directly. That is, strategic positioning clearly will impact different types of students in different ways. A first-year philosophy student will not feel its effects in the same way a third-year medical student or a second-year physics graduate student might.
The administration has wondered why only certain groups have shown an interest in helping to develop strategic positioning; The problem is communication. While so much focus has been placed on the General College, many of the other task forces working toward other goals largely have been ignored by the public and student body. This clearly calls for some public relations help.
While there have been numerous e-mails from the administration to the student body attempting to explain strategic positioning, these surely ended up largely in the “trash” folder. What was needed were e-mails tailored to each type of student or college explaining exactly what impact strategic positioning would have on that student population and how to get involved in the process. A call for volunteers from groups other than the Minnesota Student Association and other student government groups would have been helpful. Better yet, individual programs needed to devote class or meeting time to discuss the plan.
Fortunately, there is still time to remedy the situation. It will just require some extra effort on the part of the administration to show each separate student population that it values student opinions and input and cares that students remain accurately informed about its goals.