Western’s future discussed in “Campus Conversations”

WCU 2020: Realizing the Vision, Planning for Our Preferred Future, is a new process that will be developed in three phases over the next few years to address where Western Carolina University is headed in the next ten years. As part of that overall process, “Campus Conversations” have taken place all over campus from Sept. 20-30, and all campus and community members were invited. Those attending were encouraged to suggest institutional strategies and priorities that will help to fulfill the university’s vision of being a national model for student learning and engagement.

This is an overall “renewed emphasis on strategic planning,” explained Melissa Wargo, assistant Vice Chancellor for Planning and Effectiveness and a part of the Strategic Planning Council for the WCU 2020 process. “We are currently in the phase one part which is developing institutional priorities and strategies. Phase one will continue through 2011 where phase two, division/unit planning, will begin.”

According to the WCU 2020 website, over the past 10 years, enrollment at WCU “has increased by over 40 percent, the campus almost doubled in acreage, 18 new buildings were built, many new programs were added, including forensic science and a doctoral program in Physical Therapy, dozens of new faculty and staff were hired, and the quality of the student body improved in ways most would have not thought impossible ten years ago.”  Western has seen so many changes since 2000, what will we look like in 2020?

The potential commercial development of Cullowhee is not the driving force of the WCU 2020 process; it is a part of it. The main focus of the WCU 2020 process is to get people thinking about and talking about what will Western Carolina University be in 10 years? Look like in 10 years? Questions to review for the WCU 2020 process, how big will WCU be? How will WCU be organized? How many colleges will/should WCU have?

There are many challenges facing WCU, including: a three billion dollar state budget shortfall, an increase of regulatory requirements, a new call for public accountability and a new questioning of traditional organization of higher education practices.

Students can get involved through upcoming student forums hosted by the Strategic Planning Council. A schedule will be released soon.  Students can also get involved by voicing their concerns to the Student Government Association through the liaison to the Strategic Planning Council.

“We really want to encourage student voice,” said Wargo.

If one has any ideas, they are invited to share them with the SGA members and attend the upcoming student forums (schedule to be announced soon).

 Check www.wcu2020.wcu.edu for more information.