This evening, March 8, Whitworth students will have a unique opportunity, and one that should not be passed up: A chance to influence the direction their university takes over the next 10 years of its life. The strategic plan is created by the Whitworth administration and submitted to the Board of Trustees for ratification. Whitworth’s last strategic plan ran through 2010; the board granted President Beck Taylor a year to establish himself and to have a hand in the creation of the next 10-year plan.
This week, the plan enters its public appraisal phase. Whitworth students, staff and faculty all have the opportunity to view the plan and give feedback (more details on pg. 4) - feedback which the administration is taking very seriously, Taylor said.
Tonight at 9 p.m. in the Hixson Union Building Multipurpose room, a town hall is being hosted for students to ask questions, discuss and offer feedback on the plan. While some students might not see the immediate benefit of attending such an event, it should be considered a rare opportunity to affect the future of our university.
Many students tend to think that they cannot effect much change. This meeting is an opportunity to prove that sentiment completely wrong. The new plan will shape the university not just a decade down the road, but also all the years in between, and those behind it want to know what the students here for the interim think. Because of this, this board urges as many students as possible to attend the meeting, as the new plan will begin to shape the lives of Whitworth students immediately.
The strategic plan has not yet been finalized; therefore, any feedback received can potentially impact the final version that will be presented to the Board of Trustees in April.
Some parts of the plan can simply be described as “Whitworth … but more.” Meaning more diversity, more academic excellence, more awards, more faculty producing scholarly articles and so on. Separately, these things may not seem to make much of a difference, but as a whole they may have tremendous impact on what Whitworth will look like a decade from now. It is important that students voice their opinion of where they want Whitworth’s focus directed on most over the next 10 years.
Other parts call for drastic changes in the direction of the school. Namely, the plan calls for capping undergraduate enrollment at around 2,300 students in the next few years, halting growth in that area. This has far-reaching effects on everything from Whitworth’s finances (without continuous growth as a source of income, a large source of revenue will need to be replaced) to campus community (changes to enrollment affect campus life and culture; more students means a different mix of classes living on campus, and so on; the plan currently calls for 70 percent of underclassmen to live on campus).
Students should take this opportunity seriously – particularly underclassmen, as they will be here for the longest under the new plan. But even upperclassmen should take an interest, as they have the opportunity to affect the university where they’ve invested so much of their time for the students who follow them. Whitworth exists for the education of its students; it’s time its students step up and let the administration know just what they want from their Whitworth education.