College solicits Strategic Plan feedback

By Campus Editor

Kelly Wenzel
President Kwang-Wu Kim discussed the strategic plan process Oct. 24 during a Town Hall meeting with faculty at Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.

Columbia launched a feedback campaign Oct. 30 to aggregate and review comments from the campus community as it refines its Strategic Plan, an initiative designed to implement six goals the college plans to accomplish in the next five years.

The feedback process runs through Dec. 8 and will allow contributors the choice of giving input through two methods—on Civic Commons, a nonprofit online forum, and through various 90-minute roundtable discussions on campus, both of which will continue through the end of the feedback phase, according to Stan Wearden, senior vice president and provost.

The plan, which was presented to the college in September by a committee consisting of 20 student and employee representatives, addresses six goals that include improving student success and curriculum, diversifying the student body, increasing enrollment, raising the college’s profile and responsibly managing the college’s fiscal budget, according to Wearden.

He said Columbia’s decision to consider input from constituencies such as students, staff, faculty and alumni was part of an all-encompassing initiative to enlist feedback from all sectors of the community.

“You often make better decisions if they are more inclusive and if you listen to a lot of ideas from a lot of different people,” Wearden said. “We want to make sure we’re as open as possible to good ideas and that we take them from all possible areas.”

The first roundtable discussion, which will be held Nov. 5 at the Ferguson Auditorium in the 600 S. Michigan Ave. Building, will address enrollment. Following the initial gathering, five other discussions will address specific goals and be held through the end of November, according to an Oct. 30 collegewide email.

In addition to roundtable discussions, feedback can also be given online on Civic Commons. Wearden said new prompts inquiring about each of the six goals will be posted every Monday and Thursday for contributors who cannot make it to the roundtable discussions. Wearden said because the entire campus community cannot attend the discussion, there will be a representative present to record attendees’ input to be later uploaded on Civic Commons for all to see.

For those who want to submit feedback anonymously, Wearden said there is an option to print and fill out an anonymous form that will be reviewed by the Office of the Provost.

“There are people who will be worried about how something might affect a grade in a class or worried about how a comment might affect their prospects for tenure,” Wearden said. “People who have those concerns need to have a chance to participate and feel safe, too.”

Kwang-Wu Kim, president and CEO, said launching the feedback process is vital to allowing the college to review its Strategic Plan and focus on what is best for the campus community as a whole. However, he said he anticipates it to be challenging to get a substantial amount of participation.

“You can’t force people to participate, but we’re just trying to look at as many different ways as possible to encourage the broadest range of people to participate,” Kim said. “I hope that we feel at the end of the feedback process that we have had a really high percentage of participants.”

Kim said although he hopes all branches of the campus community participate, he is especially concerned about getting feedback from alumni.

Jonathan Stern, vice president of Development and Alumni Relations, said an email was sent Oct. 30 to more than 10,000 alumni informing them of the feedback process and inviting them to participate on Civic Commons. Stern said it is essential to consider the opinions of alumni because they are able to reflect on their experience at the college and weigh in on what needs to change as it relates to the six goals.

“The Strategic Plan is incredibly important for the college, and it’s going to lay out what the future holds and the next stages of development for the college and faculty, administration and staff,” Stern said. “Offering alumni the chance to contribute their thoughts, their ideas and perspectives on the college, both on their time and what they’d like to see in the future, I believe is very important.”

Stern said his department will reach out to alumni to draw out participation via Twitter and LinkedIn as the feedback process continues.

To bring attention to the feedback process, the Office of Communications & Marketing launched an internal marketing campaign Oct. 30 that will display images of the campaign’s brand, according to Anne-Marie St. Germaine, interim vice president of Communications & Marketing.

St. Germaine said the college wants to receive as much feedback as it can. The marketing campaign, which lasts through the end of the feedback phase, helps to accomplish that goal.

“We wanted to brand the initiative so that people have a visual mark so that whenever they see it, it will remind them to be involved,” St. Germaine said. “I would encourage everybody to join the conversation.”