Dixie State University’s 2020 strategic plan is in the works and students, faculty and community members have been involved in expressing their thoughts and concerns.
After an initial announcement of the strategic plan, the university held a planning meeting and community forum in October where everyone was invited to share their thoughts on the plan. According to an article by the Dixie Sun News, no students showed up.
Earlier this month, another meeting was held where over 100 students came and participated, said Provost Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs.
“This is a very important process for the university,” Lacourse said. “We need students especially to get involved in this process because it is shaping their future and the future generations of students to come.”
While Lacourse believes things are going smoothly with the strategic plan, some faculty have raised concerns about their college within the university and what could possibly change.
“Our university is growing and maturing in a time of limited financial resources,” said Erin Ortiz, associate professor of media studies. “The concern is that this could potentially lead to some negative consequences, such as less resources being allocated to the college or not being able to provide a holistic education our undergraduate students need. The reality is that students need more than skills training.”
Ortiz said she while there is concern she believes the university is doing a good job getting feedback of what direction to the strategic plan.
“Contrary to popular belief, civil discussion and debate are healthy and important parts of this process,” Ortiz said. “If navigated correctly, conversations regarding concerns and issues like the ones that the college of humanities and social sciences is voicing should be expressed now so that the issues raised can be part of the direction of the university and solution. We have agency in imagining and creating the kind of university we want to participate in, and we are taking actions now to get us there.”
Jeff Jarvis, dean for the college of the arts, said the new strategic plan is crucial for shaping the university. He said it is the second strategic plan since DSU became a university, so the focus of this strategic plan will set the direction for the university and for future strategic plans.
“In my mind, a strategic planning process at its minimum is an opportunity for everybody that cares to voice what they think,” Jarvis said. “I am not going to get everything that I want as the dean of the college of the arts, and neither are students, but if we want something, we need to voice our opinions and thoughts now.”
Jarvis said a university is very complex. It would be much easier if students were the only ones who were affected by the strategic plan, but that is not the case.
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from higher education, Jarvis said. Realistically, the entire state of Utah is effected by the higher education system at DSU because they pay state taxes which go towards the university.
Lacourse said he encourages everyone to educate themselves about the vision for the strategic plan and if anyone has questions or wants to send in ideas or comments, they can visit https://strategicplanning.dixie.edu.
“Why is it that we as humans tend to go negative when we think about the change, like we think it’s going to be for the worse?” Jarvis said. “When I look at the change in my life over the past 30 years, it has been mostly good change. If we care about this university, we should be excited and looking forward to this change.”