Comment 4: Commendations, Reflections, and a Recommendation/Question
First, I want to commend the Board of Trustees and the University Administration for their selection of this particular strategic planning process. I am most appreciative of the emphasis on the “ever-widening circle of participants” and holding “recursiveness” as a planning value. Too often, strategic planning processes are not broadly based enough and there’s a mentality present that says “once we’ve decided something, it stays decided; there’s no going back to reconsider.” In addition to valuing wide participation and having a willingness to “go back,” if necessary, in light of new developments or changed understandings, I want to thank the Board and Administration for the way in which the work has been accomplished up to this point. Re-examining the mission and vision statements was an important step and using key phrases in those statements was a productive way of structuring the SWOT analyses as the various position papers were initially developed. You’ve provided us with a solid foundation for carrying on the work that lies ahead.
Second (almost as an aside), I want to comment that if others are like me, they don’t really have a very deep understanding of Upper Iowa University’s already rather sizable global “footprint.” Perhaps because I’ve lived in Iowa my entire life, mostly in the eastern half of Iowa, my conception of UIU was that it was a small college in a small town, in a corner of the state, off the beaten track. I make this comment to suggest that one of the tasks that we will need to undertake will be to help others appreciate just how well positioned Upper Iowa University is to make the claim that we are developing global citizens. A brief review of current literature of higher education reveals that many institutions are on a “global citizenship” track; they are seeking to re-invent themselves as preparing “global citizens.” We are truly several steps ahead of the pack, so to speak, because of our world-wide institutional presence. I can imagine that even small things, for example, like listing the various centers on our stationery, is one way to begin to communicate about our place in the world. Also, it was not until I served on the AQIP Gen Ed Assessment Committee that UIU’s size became clearer to me when we talked about the number of sections of general education courses that are offered worldwide through UIU (and thus needed to be included in our assessment activities). Communicating this kind of information also may be a necessary step to take to help people comprehend that we are so much more than a small college located in a small town in Iowa, a small state in the midwest.
I am most interested, at this time, in the “curricular” area. I am very much aware that there’s a great amount of challenging work to be undertaken in a very short amount of time, and in a very dynamic environment. Based on the strategic plan recommendations to date, it looks as though the faculty will be generally responsible for engaging in the work that relates to the institution’s curriculum, and that is as it should be. Also, no doubt, faculty members will be expected to provide assistance in other areas as well. That said, my concern has to do with time and capacity. I am a part-time faculty member at this point. I was full-time last year and because of that experience, I am much more aware