Strategic planning discussed at open forum, more input needed

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Dixie State University is in the middle of charting a course for the next five years, and it’s not too late to take part.

Faculty, students and community members were invited to an open forum to see and discuss the current draft of DSU’s strategic plan Feb. 3. Attendees heard presentations of the mission statements and core values. At each table, attendees discussed and shared their thoughts on the plan to the entire group. Notes from each table were collected at the end of the meeting.

DSU is currently in the middle of an eight-step process to create a strategic plan for its next five years.   

Sandy Wilson, a health sciences professor and a member of the strategic planning committee, said the committee used previous input to form a draft.

“The earlier [meetings] were brainstorming,” Wilson said. “All of that information was collected … and then we took that information, picked out the things that seemed to come up the most, and then came up with a draft, which was presented today.”

Wilson said the meeting went well.

“Probably because everyone didn’t agree, we had new ideas that were brought forward,” Wilson said. “I think it’s important that people’s voices are heard. When you’re asked your opinion and listened to it makes for a better community.”

Christina Duncan, a sociology professor and member of the strategic planning committee, said the purpose of the committee is to represent others.

“We don’t want to do anything that is beyond our scope, which is just being advocates and representatives of the larger population,” Duncan said. “Without everybody’s input we can’t do the job that we really need to do.”

Not all attendees felt like their input was heard, such as Lyndsey Craig, a sophomore psychology major from Lexington, Kentucky.

“I felt like the meeting was one-sided,” Craig said. “I felt like generally the people who stood up and represented the groups all had basically the same thing to say.  I’m not sure what they are going to do with the information gathered, but to me it seemed almost pointless to have us do that.”

Craig said she was disappointed with the lack of announcements for the meetings.

“They didn’t tell anyone,” Craig said. “It’s kind of upsetting to me when we have posters of half-naked men or Casino Night, but nothing about this. Nobody knows about strategic planning.”

Craig said DSU should help students participate in more research, as well as attend conferences. She also called for better and higher-paid professors and that the school change its name from Dixie because of it’s negative connotations.

“I think, as a university, our No. 1 goal should be to have more academics,” Craig said.

At the meeting on Feb. 3, attendees were asked to volunteer for smaller committees that are being formed to further develop parts of the strategic plan. Duncan said this invitation is open to students.

“Now that we have these different little ‘task forces’ we would love to have student input,” Duncan said.

Duncan made several recommendations to those who would like to be involved in the strategic planning process.  

“I hope people will come to the forums that are coming up in March,” Duncan said. “I hope if you absolutely can’t come to the forums that you are taking advantage of the website. Go on and give comments and suggestions about the planning process. We do read every single comment in committee and go over each comment and add those to our notes.”