faculty – The GW ax

The professors said they don’t care if GW’s next president chooses to establish a formal strategic plan, but rather hope he will focus on including their views in decision-making first. major.

The University has not had a strategic plan since officials called the plan drawn up by outgoing University President Thomas LeBlanc, which the GW community said lacked shared governance, as “obsolete” last November. given the COVID-19 pandemic. Professors said they don’t think a strategic plan is currently needed and instead hope administrators will focus on pressing issues like understaffed IT and layoffs.

Now, as the university enters a “transition phase” leading to an interim presidency of up to 18 months, professors say officials should aim to resolve concerns in the GW community regarding shared governance before d ” develop a strategic plan.

“During this period, the important work of fulfilling our teaching and research mission continues,” the spokesperson for Crystal Nosal University said in an email. “After Dr. Wrighton officially joins the University on January 1, he will communicate his thoughts and plans to the GW community.”

Board chair Grace Speights told faculty in April that officials would conduct a broader assessment of shared governance policies at the university, as they are based on “constructive engagement” between faculty and faculty. responsible.

“The board has spent a lot of time over the summer thinking about the issue of shared governance and how we could move forward together – the three constituents – to make it an even better university, and I can tell you that the board of directors is committed to doing so. “Speights said at a faculty Senate meeting in September.

Speights said in September that officials were ready to open a “fresh start” in talks between the board, faculty and administration to improve shared governance.

Members of the GW community cited initiatives such as LeBlanc’s 20/30 plan – a plan to cut undergraduate enrollment by 20% while increasing the share of STEM majors to 30% – amid their calls. to Leblanc’s resignation last year. Faculty said the 20/30 plan violates principles of shared governance and could result in “major” cuts to funding for humanities departments.

As the University prepares for interim presidential leadership that could last until June 2023, officials have remained silent on when they plan to develop a strategic plan, but have also said they cannot go. moving forward with major University planning efforts, such as a fundraising campaign without a strategic plan. .

Amid officials’ silence on the state of the University’s strategic planning efforts, they also said they could not move forward with some campus-wide planning efforts without a strategic plan. , like a big fundraising campaign.

The professors said they were unsure whether a long-term strategic plan was needed and that they would prefer officials to prioritize the allocation of additional funds to research, classroom technology and academic positions. staff after officials laid off 339 staff last year as part of their efforts to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic. They said if officials are implementing a strategic plan, they should consider feedback from the GW community and shared governance through public meetings or surveys.

Harald Griesshammer, associate professor of physics and faculty senator, said he didn’t think a new strategic plan was needed because the University should instead focus on the immediate demands of students and faculty members, such as the management of IT and staff layoffs.

“We will only have a credible community effort if at some point, [we] reign over the variety of voices you get and then create something where there was a democratic process where the people who write the writing actually speak for the community, ”he said.

Griesshammer said the University’s implementation of its next strategic plan should be a “community effort” that includes all voices on campus, including students and faculty. He said officials must determine the mission of the university through town halls and surveys.

“What we need is to understand what GW wants to stand up for and, therefore, what he wants his future to be,” he said.

Officials announced in September that Mark Wrighton, the former chancellor of Washington St. Louis University, would assume the interim presidency on January 1. The faculty said Wrighton can help mend the relationship between the GW community and the administration and strengthen shared governance. during his tenure as interim president.

Wrighton said in an interview in September that he wanted to work with faculty to create a “common understanding” of shared governance during his presidency.

“Our goal is to prepare the institution for a new president by achieving both an understanding and the implementation of that understanding,” Wrighton said.

Griesshammer said that at the start of Wrighton’s tenure next semester, the university should focus on immediate issues affecting the community, such as an understaffed IT department.

The faculty said in April that officials should allocate more money in the FY2021 budget to research after the pandemic delayed ongoing research.

Kim Roddis, professor of civil engineering and senator at the faculty, said she believes she can trust Wrighton’s experience and judgment to get the University back on track and determine whether or not GW needs a new strategic plan before the arrival of his next permanent. President.

“If he chooses to use the strategic planning process, that’s fine with me as long as he’s doing it under shared governance,” she said. “And if he chooses to do something else, that’s fine with me.”

Shaista Khilji, professor of human and organizational learning and international affairs, said that with improved shared governance, the University can implement a strategic plan that members of the GW community will commit to.

“If there is one thing we can learn from our recent experiences, it is the need to strengthen shared governance at GW – a joint effort that administrators, administration and faculty have recently undertaken,” said she said in an email.

Higher education experts have said that strategic plans can help drive a university’s mission and without one, universities are limited in how they can distribute resources.

Joseph Paris, assistant professor of higher education at Temple University, said a strategic plan can help officials align the university’s program with its mission, which can help them determine how to allocate resources, such as funding and administrative assistance, to its students and staff.

“In the absence of a strategic plan, there may be a risk of misalignment of these resources and the outcome that these resources intend to achieve,” said Paris.

Tolani Britton, assistant professor of higher education at the University of California at Berkeley, said a strategic plan can help “rectify” the policies and programs that support a university’s students and faculty.

“It might be difficult to make decisions that are in the interest and long-term vision of the institution if this vision has not been articulated through a strategic plan with concrete milestones and goals,” a- she declared.

Jennifer Lee Hoffman, associate professor of higher education and leadership policy at the University of Washington, said the pandemic may have magnified enrollment and financial challenges a university may have faced prior to the pandemic. She said the pandemic has led to “uncertainty” about the future of higher education institutions, and a strategic plan can help address those concerns.

“The problem is that the colleges, the universities that really depend on enrollment are going to have to be very careful about the decisions they make in order to maintain their financial viability,” she said. “So this is where your strategic plan is really, really important. “

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