Comment 10: General comments
Others who have commented above are correct: the strategic plan as presented provides no coherent vision for the future and consists mostly of a series of wish lists, which serve to make it much more tactical than strategic. The major issue that I see facing Upper Iowa is the lack of an endowment. Being tuition-driven, as everyone knows, leaves us vulnerable to the vagaries of the local and national economies, as an economic downturn leaves fewer students with the resources to attend Upper Iowa. We need an endowment more than anything else to help us weather not only hard economic times but also coming changes in the very nature of higher education. How education is delivered twenty years from now is anybody's guess, but I bet it will be quite different than it is today. Without an endowment, we may not be able to survive those changes intact. The plan needs to address ways to build the endowment substantially as its top priority.
The other major concern I see with the plan as presented is the huge disparity of resource requests for athletics, OSD, and IT when compared to requests to aid our curriculum. Practically speaking, no mention is made of any monetary support for existing or new faculty positions. Neither is there any indication of support for existing or new academic programs. I believe that the faculty and the curriculum are the lifeblood of this institution; without either, there would be no reason for students to enroll. As a specific example of curricular needs that affect me directly, the science and mathematics division suffers from a serious dearth of instrumentation for students to use in their lab courses and research projects. The $850,000 proposed for artificial turf in Eischeid Stadium could enhance the science curriculum beyond belief by providing funds to purchase enough scientific instrumentation to make us the envy of our peers. Better instrumentation means more opportunities for student research, which is now recognized nationally as the single most important aspect of an undergraduate science education.
Millions of dollars are slated to be allocated to many perceived needs on campus if everything in the strategic plan is implemented. I submit that the money involved could be spent much more productively than for the items currently described in the plan.
Interestingly, there is also no mention of resources for a bookstore on the Fayette campus. I am tired of having students add my course on the first day of the term and then have to wait a week or ten days for their books to arrive. By then, they have missed much of the reading for the first exam and they suffer as a result. We need a bookstore on campus so that students can buy or rent books right away for their classes. The current situation of ordering online does not work for students who need to add courses during the first three days of the term.
I am not trying to whine about inadequate facilities and low curricular support for my program. I simply accept it as a fact and make do the best I can. I am, however, very concerned that the reports from each subcommittee include no mention of support for faculty or curriculum. Am I to assume that most people on campus think this issue is unimportant? I love working at Upper Iowa; it's why I drive 61 miles every day just to get here. But we need to focus on providing the best educational opportunities we can for