Despite the Strategic Plan Steering Committee and the Faculty Senate previously addressing a day care option on campus, it was not included in the final strategic plan for 2020-2025.
Samuel Tobler, former Faculty Senate president and assistant professor of physics, said in an email: “Relatively shortly after the University went remote due to COVID-19, the first draft of the Strategic Plan was presented for review and comments. … When I reviewed the first draft, there was a version of Goal 5 that did include a relatively long list of proposals to fund, of which child care was one of them. Goal 5 underwent a dramatic revision. It appears this list generally, and child care specifically, did not survive the revision.”
Provost Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs, said Tiffany Draper, who is no longer at DSU, and Michelle McDermott, a member of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee and assistant professor of nursing, were on the sub-committee overseeing goal five. They devised a plan as to what a drop-in, after-hours day care on campus would cost, where it would be held, and how it would benefit campus.
Lacourse said this plan was never explicitly spoken about as a committee, so he’s “not sure what happened to it, to be honest with you.”
Goal five was rewritten due to worry about it not covering the important issue of recruiting faculty and focusing on professional learning and growth development, Lacourse said, so it’s possible this section of the goal was removed.
“I sincerely doubt there was any intention of not including it; somehow, it just slipped through the cracks and people didn’t notice it,” Lacourse said.
Faculty Senate sent a proposal to the Strategic Plan Steering Committee in the fall semester of 2019 that stated its support for the inclusion of student, faculty and staff child care on campus in the upcoming strategic plan.
The proposal stated, “The Faculty Senate recognizes there are currently many pressing issues facing the institution; however, we want the problem faced by students, faculty and staff in need of after-hours childcare prioritized.”
The proposal also acknowledged the university’s other pressing matters, and offered a more reasonable approach to a day care facility, which would be an after-hours drop-in center from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Tobler said the document was sent to Lacourse on Dec. 13 and requested it be shared with the strategic planning committee.
Lacourse said the proposal would have been sent straight to the co-chairs of goal five of the strategic plan and not explicitly discussed among the entire committee.
Tobler said, “If [the sub-committee] made the decision that this statement did not fit their particular goal, they probably forgot all about the statement and they stayed focused on their goal.”
As mentioned in a previous Dixie Sun article about implementing day care on campus, the Faculty Senate also created a sub-committee designated to investigate why the university has not implemented a day care facility on campus and how it could happen. The intention was to get action going rather than just conversation.
Lisa Welch, an assistant professor of dental hygiene who was also one of the Faculty Senate members on the sub-committee, said she spoke with Tasha Toy, a member of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee and chief diversity officer, who said the university sent a campus-wide survey to determine the need for a day care on campus, which was also stated in the Faculty Senate meeting minutes from Nov. 21, 2019.
Welch said the needs assessment stated “although there was a desire for it, there was not a need” because of the sufficient resources within the community.
Welch said administration is aware of the desire from faculty and students, and it would be helpful for both faculty and students, but it comes down to having the funds and the fact that there are local resources available.
The Faculty Senate meeting minutes from Nov. 21 state, “There are other things taking precedence in the budget right now such as hiring more faculty.”
Lacourse said he can’t say exactly what the university would need to accomplish before focusing on a day care facility.
“When we do budgeting, priorities change,” Lacourse said. “To know in advance, I don’t know.”
He acknowledges that a day care facility on campus is important to faculty, staff and students.
“If we can find a way to make it work, we want to be able to provide that service on campus,” Lacourse said. “We are limited in our facilities and funding, [and] there are continuing priorities that we need to address.”
Due to the size and population of DSU, Welch said she thinks it would help with faculty and student recruitment and retention.
“We need to look at what other universities in Utah are offering and we should be comparable,” Welch said.