University seeks feedback on strategic planning

Molly Moker

In the upcoming weeks, students will not only get to vote for the U.S. president – they will also get to put their two cents in about the University.

Last week, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost E. Thomas Sullivan sent an e-mail to all University community members asking them to look at the University’s strategic planning process.

The process sums up the University’s goals and priorities, and aids the Board of Regents and other officials when they set new policies and make decisions.

“We’re inviting students and others to look very carefully and see if our documents are inclusive enough, that they would move the University to be significantly better and benefit the total experience of the student,” Sullivan said.

Students should take the time to look at these documents because they help the regents and other University officials decide what issues need to be better addressed, Sullivan said.

“We cannot accept the status quo,” Sullivan said. “We must continue to evolve and move forward in positive ways, both educationally and culturally.”

One initiative the University thinks is important is introducing undergraduate students to research opportunities, Sullivan said.

If such issues matter to students, Sullivan said, they need to look at the documents and send the University feedback on them.

Regent Clyde Allen said student input is important to him when he makes decisions pertinent to the University.

It is good for the University to get students involved in its operations, he said.

“If there are thoughtful comments that can be made by any of the stakeholders at the University, input from many sources is really key to a planning process,” Allen said.

But he said it is important for respondents to realize that officials might not use every piece of feedback they receive.

“When you have hundreds of responses, people can’t be offended when things aren’t done the way they suggest,” he said.

So far, Sullivan said, the Web site that was linked in the e-mail has been visited frequently, and his office is compiling and summarizing the feedback it has already received.

Feedback from students and staff members will be used when presenting the strategic plan to the regents.

Sophomore Rachel Paeper said she got the e-mail asking for student input but did not respond to it.

“I doubted that my input would be taken seriously,” Paeper said.

Sullivan also said he will be holding town-hall style meetings with students to further discuss the University’s priorities and important issues.