DSU strategic planning meeting lacks attendance, student involvement

Empty seats in the Jennings Communication building fill a classroom. Dixie State University held a meeting to discuss the new 5 year strategic plan. Photo illustration by Madison Anderson

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Students had an opportunity to voice their concerns about Dixie State University’s new strategic plan for 2025 on Oct. 3, but none showed up.

DSU hosted two faculty and staff meetings as well as a community forum in the Zion Room of the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons to discuss the five-year strategic plan set to be released in fall 2020.

“It’s your plan and we’re not going to write it [for you],” said John Welty, senior associate of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities-Penson. “The question is, going forward, what do you want to distinguish the university in coming years?”

No students showed up to the community forum to answer this question; however, the faculty and staff meetings “filled the room wall to wall,” said Henrie Walton, assistant to the president for government and community relations.

The faculty and staff meetings briefly covered higher education issues including, but not limited to: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, free speech, academic freedom, Title IX, the Clery Act, availability of online courses, whether or not students appear to be prepared for their professions based on the education they’ve received, the cost of education, and faculty salaries.

“I wish more students would come to these meetings,” Humanities Adviser Chandler Whitlock said. “This is for them.”

Welty said the purpose of these meetings is to get faculty and community feedback and to give the steering committee the opportunity to share its progress.

Faculty and staff discussed the possibility of implementing new approaches such as increasing the number of endowed chairs, gaining cash flow to redesign a more interdisciplinary model for degree programs, and creating internship and community opportunity centers as an expansion of the Career Center.

“It’s your plan and we’re not going to write it [for you],”

John Welty, senior associate of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities-Penson.

Welty also used a YouTube video called “Did You Know 2019” to illustrate the need to consider the integration of technology in the future.

AASCU-Penson Associate Dene Thomas said this is something to consider “when you’re lecturing and your students are using their phones because you’re not up to date on active learning.”

Provost Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs, said, “I think what we’re looking for now is alignment between different groups [of people on campus]; if multiple groups are seeing the same thing, that’s something to address, and if only one group is seeing it, [we need to ask them] ‘well, why are you seeing this?’”

There will be more community forums throughout 2020 to discuss feedback and further plans until the plan is finalized in the fall.

Another community forum will be held at a currently unspecified time on Nov. 5 of this year to give feedback on the steering committee’s progress.