Questions and Answers

Participants in the Employee Engagement planning sessions that were held on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 submitted more than 150 questions to the President's Cabinet. Following the planning sessions, additional questions have been submitted through this site. Answers to all of these questions are listed below. Senior leaders took the lead on providing responses to all these queries, but achieving campuswide operational excellence at WMU requires all employees to be engaged in elevating the University to the next level. We will move forward together.

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Questions submitted during the Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 planning sessions

  1. What can we do to bring more of a camaraderie around our athletic program? How can we justify an athletic department that makes no money?
    The juxtaposition of these two questions at the forums highlight the different, and at times divergent, views about athletics. But the role that sports play in American culture is undeniable. Every news outlet has a sports section. The world seems to stop for the Super Bowl, March Madness, and the Olympics—an event for which cities pay large sums just to bid for the opportunity to host. While human fascination with competition may not align with everyone’s sensibilities, it is real.
    There are many reasons we have athletics, but making money is not one of them. In fact, only five programs in the country make money. Nonetheless, athletics is one of many things we do that are important but prove difficult to precisely measure their worth. Even so, we know that having Division 1 athletics does bring the University tremendous value. For example, embedded in the first question is the recognition that athletics gives us an opportunity for camaraderie and to join together as a community. Football and hockey bring the largest gatherings of Broncos—especially students—throughout the year. CommUniverCity brings some of the most influential individuals in Southwest Michigan to our campus. And athletics events give senior leaders forums to cultivate friends of the University who can bring us resources and influence.
    Athletics strengthens our reputation and elevates our visibility. Time on ESPN+ and national TV when we go bowl games brings us hundreds of thousands of dollars in national exposure. We also know that people sort universities by athletic conferences, and who plays whom. It is a shorthand for the stature of a university. Western is the only university in the state that takes the field with Michigan and Michigan State and plays teams like Syracuse. These, plus our regular and post-season games across many sports, put us in a certain class that conveys a vibrant, quintessential college experience that other universities can’t offer.
    So, how do we make the most of it? Our athletics program advances our value of access. It makes college possible for students who otherwise would not be able to attend. And while we play to win, we win in the right way. We are not riddled by scandal and violations like other programs and our student athletes have among the highest GPAs and graduations rates on campus.
    We will think more about how we can make the most of our programs to build camaraderie and ensure the entire university community receives the greatest benefit possible from our program.
  2. How can we justify an athletic department that makes no money?
    Addressed in question 1.
  3. As we face ongoing budget cuts and declines in enrollment, is everything on the table for reductions, including athletics? What is and isn't protected?
    (Also covers questions 14, 17, 19, 26, 35) Budget cuts are always difficult.  As we and most other higher education institutions have experienced them on a recurring basis, the decisions become even tougher. The reductions are allocated among the executive areas, including athletics, based on the division’s budget share compared to the total general fund budget. Within each division, we work with our leadership teams to identify opportunities for either increasing revenue or reducing expense. As part of this process, we also evaluate whether or not the service/activity needs to continue. Expectations change with time. We need to look at the rate of usage and benefit derived from the service performed. This analysis has caused us to eliminate some services and/or modify how we deliver the service. This, in turn, can cause more pain as usually there may be a small group that is dependent upon the service. As good stewards of limited resources, it is incumbent upon us to make sure that the services we perform are of the highest quality and provide the greatest benefit.

    Once a division has determined how to approach its reduction, this information is shared at the President’s Cabinet level. The Cabinet’s involvement is important to identify impact across the University. It is also the responsibility of the Cabinet to support major changes in delivery of services. The values of WMU drive the decisions made regarding the services and activities that exist. It is recognized that there are many services/activities that may require institutional financial support. This is true for athletics, library, certain academic programs and performance venues, to name but a few examples. As an institution, leadership continues to believe the importance of the service /activity adds value to the WMU experience.

    People are our business—whether as students or as faculty/staff. Tuition provides a little over 70% of the general fund budget. We are obligated to provide an education and other needed services that promote our students’ success. Similarly, compensation comprises about 68% of our general fund budget. As we consider budget reductions and changes in service level, we are respectful of the impact to faculty and staff. Yet, it remains true that today’s services may require different staffing levels as well as skill sets.
  4. What efforts will be made to break down "silos" between faculty and staff and equal accountability without equal contract standards?
    This is a question best answered through our collective-bargaining processes.
  5. How will the cabinet be held accountable for needed change in their area? By whom?
    (Also covers questions 8) The Cabinet is accountable to the President, to each other, and to the broader campus community. Yes, we will be tracking changes and efforts and will need to determine how best to measure collective progress. Leadership will need to report back to campus. Communication is one of the three areas of focus selected by the Cabinet. As part of this commitment, interaction with campus regarding progress and soliciting input will be sought. Ultimately, conducting an engagement survey in two years again will provide an objective tool to help measure progress.
  6. Are we going to revamp our HR performance measures to align with the direction we want to go from the results of the survey?
    (Also covers questions 9, 10, 67, 69, 106, 152, 171) The President and Cabinet are committed to creating and maintaining an environment that attracts world-class faculty and staff. Collaboration is best achieved through earned trust. Leadership is united in authentically developing this partnership. Perspectives expressed through the survey results help drive action towards success. Areas of deficit will be addressed through direct action and strategized improvement.

    Assessment is key to transforming WMU. At the division level, performance measures will be led by the respective vice president and transparently reflect activities and outcomes driven by the survey results. Concurrently, executive leadership is now evaluated on a yearly basis with a full 360 review every third year to include input from various groupings of stakeholders. Yearly assessment involves evaluating VP leadership performance competencies, committed objectives that improve departmental mission, and aspirational goals that inspire collaborative betterment on a broader scale.
  7. Accountability- What's the difference between a reason and an excuse?
    Addressed in question 6.
  8. Will we track which changes and efforts are implemented and celebrate what worked and our collective progress?
    Addressed in question 5.
  9. What will senior leadership do if we find that a certain department or division has a systemic problem with poor management and obvious high turnover in staff?
    Addressed in question 6.
  10. What if the 360 reviews demonstrate severe need to make a change?
    Addressed in question 6.
  11. How do we create a culture of excellence in an environment where average is tolerated?
    (Also covers questions 36, 57, 78, 148, 159) Executive leadership is dedicated to partnering with students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders in creating a culture of excellence. This is the work of many and we are eager to engage. We value a diverse workforce. In order to increase diversity we are committed to increasing efforts to recruit and expand diversity within our hiring pools. Many challenges plague higher education throughout the nation. These challenges include enrollment and student persistence. From this platform, we will work together on further defining our values and organizational ethos. Average is not an acceptable norm. Regular performance assessment is now expected in all divisions and will be monitored accordingly. Achievement and exceptional contribution will be celebrated. The vice presidents will spend the remainder of the semester engaging on a divisional level further describing the survey results and their applicability at both the department and university level. Please expect regular communications regarding progress, opportunity and achievement. We believe engaged faculty and staff who feel valued in turn transpose that important sentiment to students and other stakeholders. Together we will develop success at WMU.
  12. What specifically do you plan to do to hold your directors and chairs accountable for not communicating valuable information to staff?
    We can all do a better job of communicating important information to our stakeholders and need to identify the most appropriate and useful channels to do that. We are committed to providing talking points and updates from Provost Council and Academic Forum meetings to provide greater transparency and information. We will be discussing this in our college and unit-level meetings to gather your great ideas.
  13. Cut throat competition for resources does not promote collaboration. How do you propose to balance these opposing forces?
    Changing culture will take everyone’s commitment and this will be one of the greatest challenges we all face as we endeavor to do so. A good place to start is to establish and focus on common goals, something identified as a need in the survey and also at the planning sessions. Think Big and its outcome this fall will be an important stride forward.
  14. How will we handle maintaining staffing levels with our budget concerns?
    Addressed in question 3.
  15. With the idea of openness and communication, why have the staff not heard anything about a pay increase?
    (Also covers questions 28 114, 139) Following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's adoption of the state's budget on Monday, Sept. 30, and associated revisions in state agency funding levels revealed the following day, President Montgomery announced staff compensation in a letter to the campus community Wednesday, Oct. 2. The letter both announced a 2019-20 wage increase for Staff Compensation System employees and reiterated the administration's commitment to following compensation adjustments set forth in collective bargaining agreements. The WMU community had long been awaiting the outcome of the state's unusually lengthy budgeting process to learn the University's state allocation for the 2019-20 academic year.
  16. How will the new SRM budget model address issues related to this survey? Silos? Lack of transparency? Holding units accountable? Supporting achievement?
    (Also covers questions 20, 27, 32) A budget model is a tool. The SRM—Strategic Resource Management—process will result in a much more refined tool that allows each of us to make better financial decisions regarding both resource generation as well as resource consumption. People remain responsible for the decision-making.

    The new model is based upon clearly defined rules so that both the individual and the campus as a whole can understand the impact of the decision. It is transparent. You can find more on the SRM website. With the existing model, it is very difficult to determine cause and effect when making program/service decisions.  The financial detail will be available at the departmental level. With this greater visibility comes better understanding to make more informed decisions.

    SRM provides for strategic initiative funding that will allow for investment in new initiatives that will advance the lives of our students as well as faculty and staff.  Currently, finding the resources to support initiatives is a very ad hoc process, which adds to the challenge. The new budget model provides a well-defined rational platform to assist in evaluating both investments and disinvestments.

    Information and guiding principles are powerful. It allows the President’s Cabinet as well as each decision-maker to have an engaged conversation about the impact within a unit and across WMU. The new budget model will help bridge current gaps that exist based on assumptions and lack of data.
  17. When we have budget cuts, how are they levied? VP Finance area trimmed to the bone.
    Addressed in question 3.
  18. The AAUP contract restricts many efforts related the finances. As an example, the 11% summer salary may not be sustainable. How is this being addressed?
    This is a question best answered through our collective-bargaining processes.
  19. How do you realistically address the resource shortage issue?
    Addressed in question 3.
  20. Resources are often categorized by department/area. How might a rethinking of budget allocation help us think of One WMU rather than us & them?
    Addressed in question 16.
  21. Would there be sufficient funding for graduate/research assistantships?
    Our teaching and research assistantship dollars have actually increased over the last several years even though graduate enrollment has declined significantly. Our graduate students are a critical element of our teaching and research efforts.
  22. There is a .5% increase in funding from the State of Michigan. However, there is an 11 million dollar cut at WMU?
    (Also covers questions 23, 30, 34) Tuition provides 71% of the general fund revenues. State appropriation has a much smaller impact of 27%. There also are miscellaneous revenue streams that account for the remaining 2%. Even though we received some additional state support (less than inflation) and had a tuition increase, the decline in enrollment as well as increases in expenses such as compensation and financial aid caused the $11M reduction. This $11M reduction equates to a 2.6% decline from the 2018-19 budget.

    There are two events that could cause us budget issues at mid-year. One event would be an unexpected decline in spring 2020 enrollment. Another potential impact is if the state of Michigan revenues are less than estimated and leaders decided to reduce higher education appropriations at any point during the year.  Although neither is expected, we will continue to monitor throughout the year.

    The 2019-20 general fund budget was built upon expected outcomes in Lansing. The governor's recent decisions will not result in any further changes to this year's budget.
  23. With the recent state budget, will Western have a mid-year budget cut?
    Addressed in question 22.
  24. If it's determined that we're a 20,000 student University rather than 25,000, how do we get there regarding faculty, staff and academic programs?
    (Also covers question 31) Academic Affairs and Business and Finance have been engaged in projecting enrollment and financial results for a ten-year forecast. A forecast is a guide to help set expectations and allow for longer-term planning. As we all know, actual results will vary and it will be necessary to re-set the planning tool. Regardless of decline or growth, WMU’s physical footprint, programs and services, and faculty and staff need to be set to meet the needs and expectations of our students and other constituents.
  25. When will there be more consistency in hiring starting salaries across vice-presidential areas?
    Pay administration for University employees is governed by a variety of policies and collective bargaining agreements, which differ by employee group. For Staff Compensation System employees, new hire pay rates are governed by the Staff Compensation System Administrative Guidelines, which are based upon industry best-practices. Under these guidelines, divisions are intentionally given discretion in setting starting pay rates based upon an applicant’s job history, qualifications, and availability of funding, while giving due consideration to pay for existing employees in the same or similar jobs in the hiring department and Universitywide.
  26. We've often been told and celebrated for doing more with less. With the budget cuts, how do we balance innovation and added new things with maintaining our day-to-day operations which have not decreased?
    Addressed in question 3
  27. How will the new funding mechanism being adopted by the University support the ongoing changes the administration is looking at?
    Addressed in question 16.
  28. In terms of appreciation, when will staff receive a clear honest answer regarding staff compensation system staff receiving pat increases during 2019-20?
    Addressed in question 15.
  29. WMU faces structural decline in support, enrollment. How can we feel that our efforts aren't futile in this environment?
    Our collective efforts are already making a difference in recruitment, retention and persistence. We must be aware of the limitations of demography and state support but, with creative ideas and collaborative efforts, we will succeed.
  30. What's $11 million reduction as a percent of WMU's budget?
    Addressed in question 22.
  31. How is funding being planned for the University in the next 2 years?
    Addressed in question 24.
  32. Will the new budget model help with budget cut challenges?
    Addressed in question 16.
  33. Are there any concerns that prior communications and initiatives (like Think Big) might have influenced emotions on campus about resource constraints?
    We are changing a lot—and quickly. Think Big is perhaps the most visible example of that change. We are also in an environment of constrained resources. Both change and constrained resources elicit deep emotions. What’s most important in this situation is that we focus resources on what helps us offer the highest possible value to students and other stakeholders. The Cabinet believes that focusing on senior leadership, collaboration, and communication will help with this complex, interrelated challenge.
  34. How did today's budget decisions by the Governor impact our odds of addressing serious understaffing?
    Addressed in question 22.
  35. How will the cabinet be navigating our budget cuts with continuous engagement and efforts toward student success and employee satisfaction?
    Addressed in question 3.
  36. Given our "siloed" operations, are there some areas where results are more positive than the rest of the University?
    Addressed in question 11.
  37. Could silos be reduced if CAS was solely responsible for gen-ed courses? That would allow all students to get to know each other.
    Our new general education program, WMU Essential Studies, is intended to provide a holistic foundation through connections (largely within the majors). Exposing our students to only one college in that general education process would go against that mission.
  38. In regards to the results just shared and the disconnect between senior administration, can we let you know when the silos are down instead of you telling us they are coming down?
    Addressed in question 72.
  39. I appreciate the messages that you are sharing today. My question is how do plan to disseminate this information to other administrators?
    Vice presidents are charged with sharing divisional survey results and developing strategies to address findings of the survey with employees. During the month of October, the vice president who leads your area will announce times and dates for reporting on your divisional survey. Divisions will take the time to analyze and discuss the findings and create ways to effect change, including determining the resources that can be leveraged to support the goal of operational improvement. Timelines for initiatives to address survey results will vary.
  40. How do staff get more involved in making decisions? It seems we give this feedback and then are cut out of the loop.
    Addressed in question 157.
  41. Given the many major changes at the University, what outside of Think Big, do you feel is being communicated well to the employees?
    Senior leaders heard loud and clear that more communication and more often is a pervasive desire across campus. Hopefully beginning to address this concern, this fall will see the introduction of several new e-newsletters, including a regular publication to the campus community from the president's office. The first of these digital publications to be released was The Western Insider, a monthly faculty/staff newsletter designed to: keep employees informed about key issues impacting campus, highlight employee achievements and demonstrate the various ways WMU's education and research are impacting the world. Additionally, WMU Today in October became a federated communication channel empowering employees across campus to directly post short news items to a new website——that is in turn promoted in a weekly email back to all faculty and staff. This Employee Engagement website also is an example of transparent and timely communications. This site will be updated as new information becomes available. We will have a report-out from the planning session table-top exercises, in which participants defined what success would like on several dimensions—senior leadership, communication and collaboration. We will be responding to your ideas. Please continue to share them on this site under the menu option "Help Define Success."
  42. How do you think the University can be more involved with the community?
    AVP for Community Partnerships, Kara Wood, will be leading a new era of community engagement in Kalamazoo and all of the communities WMU serves. These efforts will include identifying and connecting WMU faculty, staff and student expertise with stakeholders off campus. We must find mutually beneficial partnerships with corporate, community, non-profit and government sectors that expand opportunities for students and grow our impact. Please contact the Office of Government Relations with your ideas on how we accomplish these goals.
  43. To what extent has climate change and our responsibility to stewardship (not greenwashing) changed in the last five years?
    Our efforts, both as an organization and in scholarly teaching, research and service, have been substantial in the areas of sustainability and climate change mitigation/reversal. We continue to strive for new ways to conduct business in a sustainable way, our recent LEED certified buildings (Platinum - Heritage Hall, Gold - Valley Dining Center) are a demonstrable outcome of those efforts. Our work in curriculum (sustainability is featured prominently in WMU Essential Studies), as well as engagement with city/county-wide advocacy and change efforts, largely driven by our faculty members and staff, are tangible examples of effort and outcomes.
  44. How will you encourage dissent and avoid groupthink?
    Perspective and feedback related to survey results and subsequent strategies will continue to be solicited from numerous stakeholders in a variety of ways (i.e. web forms, division meetings, campuswide forums). Diversity of viewpoints serves as a foundation from which to develop some consensus. Feedback loops throughout the process will encourage open assessment and evolving process.
  45. Are we developing a plan for celebrating our strengths?
    Addressed in question 11.
  46. What about stigma between staff and faculty as to who is important in students' higher education journey?
    We need to move beyond this stigma and as employees of WMU, join together in collaborating on providing current students, potential students, parents, colleagues, alumni, community partners, and other stakeholders with an exemplary experience. WMU is focused on becoming the University of Choice; we share equal value in the effort and aspire collectively.
  47. What are your thoughts about employees who have been here longer experiencing their input is  less valuable?
    We want everyone to know and feel that their input is valuable. Perhaps there is more we can do on this front. While not all ideas can or will be adopted, they all have value. This question surfaces an important perspective about how we consider and implement ideas.
  48. With the budget cuts, what are some of the initiatives to maintain employee satisfaction?
    Addressed in question 11.
  49. Can you speak to the importance of unions pertaining to the stability, experience and consistency of the work force?
    WMU recognizes the role of unions within the campus community.  We respect and comply with collective bargaining agreements.
  50. Are there any efforts in the pipeline to help bridge the language/generational/cultural gap between faculty and students?
    While not yet active, we have early internal communications ideas about how to address this. Parts of this question are also addressed in the big idea that is emerging from Think Big.
  51. Who are we supposed to bring issues forward to? If we bring it to our immediate supervisor and it's dismissed then what are we supposed to do?
    There are many avenues to advance issues at the University. If you believe anyone is engaging in unethical or illegal activities, you can submit an anonymous complaint through the University's EthicsPoint hotline at With regard to other issues, if they involve claims of discrimination or harassment they should be directed to the Office of Institutional Equity. If the issues relate to a personnel matter, they can be directed to your HR representative. Issues related to compliance or legal matters can be directed to the Office of the General Counsel and financial issues can be directed to Internal Audit or the University Budget Office. With regard to operational issues within a division, it is recommended that you speak with your immediate supervisor first. There may be a reason she or he did not take action that they can explain to you.  If you do not feel comfortable discussing the matter with your supervisor, you can respectfully advance the issue with the next supervisor in your reporting line or to your vice president.
  52. What is being done to equip lower-level leadership to increase staff morale?
    We believe morale improves by purposefully evolving organizational ethos through recognizing great effort and improving communication to allow for frequent and frank conversation surrounding betterment. Vice presidents are currently reviewing survey results in their divisions and will then encourage and empower collaborative action at all levels.
  53. Why doesn't WMU do exit interviews to learn why good people leave?
    We do want to know the reasons behind an employee's departure. Exit interviews are scheduled in Human Resources, but it is the departing employee who determines whether or not to participate. 
  54. How do we get this cultural shift happening at the lower team levels?
    Addressed in question in 39.
  55. Is race and ethnicity issues going to be addressed....for real?
    Addressed in question in 59.
  56. What is the function of HR, OIE,  and ODI when there are issues and complaints?
    Human Resources handles issues relating to benefits, compensation, employee relations, hiring, labor relations, performance management and retirement.  The Office of Institutional Equity investigates and addresses claims of discrimination and harassment.  In addition, the office administers the University's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It also houses the Title IX Compliance Officer.  All complaints of discrimination and harassment should be directed to OIE. The role of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is to help foster and promote diversity in all its forms and to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for students, faculty, staff, and community members. 
  57. What strategies does the administration have to increase the number of people of color in the administration, faculty and staff at WMU?
    WMU is committed to diversity and inclusion in its hiring practices. Hiring managers are expected to advertise broadly for positions, which helps with garnering diverse candidate pools. The University attempts to include racial/ethnic groups, women, disabled veterans, Vietnam era veterans, and individuals with disabilities in candidate pools. And there are ongoing efforts that seek resources to support the University in achieving its diversity commitment, including in STEM disciplines.
  58. Do you find it disappointing that we don't hire enough minorities?
    Answered in question 57.
  59. If we promote diversity, inclusion and equity as core values, how do we assure those values are shared among our faculty and staff?
    WMU must be dedicated to ensuring all individuals have an equal opportunity to contribute and succeed. Diversity and inclusion efforts require involvement from all stakeholders. Initiatives such as implicit bias training for search committees, focused strategic planning, and mission-directed programs celebrating underrepresented populations are only a start.
  60. Why aren't faculty leaders valued and advanced into institutional leadership roles?
    Western Michigan has a long history of promoting faculty leaders within the organization. Many of our current deans and associate deans were members of our faculty, as are our chairs and directors. We continually look for new ways to identify and develop talent through professional development and role expansion opportunities. We welcome ideas and suggestions for ways to improve our succession planning from within.
  61. If we should go outside for talent to promote diversity, why do we have a policy that staff positions must be offered internally first?
    This is an excellent question regarding a practice that has long been in place.  The process also allows a department to seek approval to perform an internal/external search simultaneously. However, it may be time to explore the existing practice in light of all of WMU’s goals. Any decision for change would need to be based on a review of historical information regarding searches and hires.
  62. How can WMU claim to be an institution committed to diversity when the leadership team, including deans and chairs, are less than representative?
    Answered in question 57.
  63. What is the plan to recruit and retain people of color in faculty positions?
    Answered in question 57.
  64. With the announcement of the recent changes to NACAC's code of ethics, do you foresee this having a  positive or negative affect on the number of students?
    This recent decision, allowing "poaching" of current students by other institutions, is disappointing and will contribute to an even more confusing environment for our students and their families. We will continue to promote the value of a WMU degree in an ethically sound way.
  65. What can we each do as a WMU employee to boost enrollment for graduate and undergraduate?
    This recent decision, allowing "poaching" of current students by other institutions, is disappointing and will contribute to an even more confusing environment for our students and their families. We will continue to promote the value of a WMU degree in an ethically-sound way.
  66. What are the most promising/exciting  plans to increase our undergraduate program enrollment?
    Think Big is certainly aimed at increasing enrollment (undergraduate and graduate), as is the University College and efforts to better align student support services. We have completely restructured our campus tour, along with an entire suite of prospective student publications. We are improving our financial aid practices and engaging students earlier in the college search process. Our Admission team partnered with Marketing and Communication, Advancement and the Upjohn Institute to better understand how to strategically engage new out-of-state markets. This is a small sampling of the many changes underway.
  67. How will leadership be held accountable in areas where there is a pervasive toxic environment?
    Addressed in question 6.
  68. Do we have a deadline in place for when these changes will be implemented? Having tangible items with a specific timeline is crucial for effective collaboration.
    Addressed in question 39.
  69. Will cabinet members be doing 360 reviews so they can hear and understand ways to improve?
    Addressed in question 6.
  70. What is being done to win back apathetic or disengaged employees?
    Operational excellence is the work of all. The survey results compel us to be better. We are purposeful and transparent in our response and action. Our ask is for employees discouraged by the past and present conditions to become fully engaged in the open process of collaborative change. The opportunity is now. Together we will define the future.
  71. Are these results a reflection on declining enrollment, fundraising, and silo system?
    Culture and enrollment are inextricably linked. Both influence the other. What we offer to the world is delivered by people. A university with a challenged culture will most certainly fall short of the very best experience it could provide students. And if we fall short there, as competition increases, we will fall short in enrollment. This is the greatest threat posed by not addressing what’s emerged in the survey results.
  72. How will senior leadership help break down silos between VP areas?
    Executive leadership began to strategize immediately upon review of the survey results. There is mutual agreement that silo mentality is detrimental to advancing WMU. Cultivating an environment built on trust and respect is essential to collaborative success. Discussions led to the development of mutually agreed upon “Principles of Community” demonstrating a commitment to team work, accountability, openness, action, collaborative risk-taking and positive intent. Cabinet additionally engaged in a strengths-based training retreat with a focus on defining success through maximizing the diversity of a team. The result is a leadership team eager to engage in transforming WMU to become the University of Choice for the region and beyond.
  73. Moving forward, how will you collect staff input regarding the decisions that affect them (including their benefits)?
    The 2019 WMU engagement survey and the University’s commitment to future survey methods, along with our scheduled meetings with the Administrative Professional Association—APA—and the Professional Support Staff Organization—PSSO—represent some of our structured methods to collect input from staff. We continue to encourage individual contact/conversations with WMU Human Resources and with the leadership of the associated division and/or department. It is important to note that benefit and compensation decisions are also driven by state or federal legislation as well as the University’s budget.
  74. From the survey results, what do you think will really seriously hurt WMU if we don't make any improvements soon?
    Answered in question 71.
  75. What changes might we expect to experience this year as a result of the survey?
    Addressed in question 39.
  76. What opportunities will be available to have further conversations like this today—with cross over in the community?
    Cabinet is fully focused on improving internal and external communications. Plans are now in place for open engagement forums to occur each semester supplemented by numerous other conduits for staff to both hear and be heard regarding issues and processes that will move WMU forward.
  77. You mentioned that we have a disproportionate amount of alumni working at WMU. Is that a positive attribute or a negative attribute and why?
    Alumni employees are a tremendous asset. They bring institutional knowledge and an unparalleled affinity for Western. 
  78. What issues with equity in hiring were revealed by the survey?
    Addressed in question 11.
  79. In regards to fairness, do you believe the gender pay gap drove negative outcomes? Will that be addressed?
    It's impossible to know what guided each employee's responses to survey questions.
  80. How will these survey results, Think Big and other endeavors result in a new mission, vision and strategic plan for the University?
    These survey results, the Think Big design process, and the marketing research conducted as part of Think Big are all a prelude to, but not a replacement for, the new strategic plan. It will focus on making Western an undeniably attractive place to attend, work and do research.
  81. Do employees who attended know whether or not attending this event was paid work time?
    If you are uncertain, please discuss with your manager. Each individual’s situation is unique based on their responsibilities and department. Many of our staff work different shifts from the traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work day so the town halls occurred off shift for them.  Other positions allow the individual to have discretion in determining attendance. The Cabinet encouraged flexibility regarding release time for these events.   The town halls were recorded to provide access in case employees were not able to physically attend.
  82. What do you believe is the key issue implied in the low rating of senior leadership in the survey and what do you want to do to address that?
    At the Universitywide level, senior leaders still working to fully understand all of the findings. This is why we captured questions anonymously through Poll Everywhere and did the table-top exercises at the planning sessions. We will use the survey results combined with insights from the questions and table work at the sessions to formulate our best, actionable understanding of these results and to plan a way forward.  With regard to timing, we feel a great sense of urgency, paired with a commitment to proceed thoughtfully. In some ways we are well ahead of the game, given that Think Big elicited a set of community principles that have already been surfaced and vetted. In other regards, we are just getting started. What we do know is that the solutions will work on many fronts, large and small, and that the effort will require continuous attention. 
  83. How much does it cost to administer the survey?
  84. Will the survey in 2 years be the exact questions or digging deeper on the yellow and red flag areas?
    Faculty and staff representatives from across campus served on the survey implementation committee and worked hard to encourage participation in the survey. Another similar committee will be formed to help guide the development of the next survey in two years. The core questions will likely remain the same to provide comparison for further analysis with opportunity for additional/deeper exploration. Relating to the results from this survey, the response rate for Professional/Administrative Staff (Exempt/Salaried) was 73% and the Clerical/Tech (Nonexempt/Hourly) response rate was 70%. The response rate for faculty (AAUP) was 48%.

    Two of the survey questions addressed professional development. In response to “I am given the opportunity to develop my skills at this University,” Professional/Administrative Staff responded 62% positive and 17% negative; Clerical/Tech indicated 62% positive and 14% negative; and Faculty replied 67% positive and 12% negative. In response to “I understand the necessary requirements to advance my career,” Professional/Administrative Staff responded 59% positive and 21% negative; Clerical/Tech indicated 53% positive and 23% negative; and Faculty replied 76% positive and 10% negative.    
    The survey results provide direction for continued professional development support and engagement. Leadership responded to an earlier pre-survey request from staff requesting increased opportunity for development. Between February and December of this year, WMU will have offered 24 training classes and additionally implemented the Employee Leadership Development Program for an initial cohort of 25 staff members engaged in advanced professional training for four hours a month for eight months.

    Professional development for faculty concurrently is coordinated through the Office of Faculty Development through a comprehensive portfolio of offerings including instructional development grants, learning communities, mentor teams, new faculty seminars, and engaging topic-specific programs.
  85. Will more of the survey results be released?  This was less than I expected to see.
    Find Universitywide survey results on the home page of this Employee Engagement website  under "Creating a renewed campus culture" in the middle section of the page. Additionally, vice presidents are charged with sharing divisional survey results and developing strategies to address findings of the survey with employees. If not announced already, during the month of October, the vice president over your area will announce times and dates for reporting divisional survey results. Divisions will take the time to analyze and discuss the findings and create ways to make change.
  86. Will there be any individual department or working group follow up/activities?
    Addressed in question 39.
  87. Is there a plan to share the results by division with ALL employees in that area?
    Addressed in question 39.
  88. You say you have a plan to move forward with this data...but what exactly will that look like?
    Addressed in question 39.
  89. Goals- Are resources being provided to accomplish the goals?
    Addressed question in 39.
  90. What issues with benefits were revealed by the survey?
    See response to question 138.
  91. What are we planning to do to address the 'red flag' categories?
    Addressed in question 11.
  92. When are we going to measure our progress again?
    The University will pursue a similar survey in two years to gauge and help monitor the effectiveness of initiatives established to drive change and advance our efforts to increasingly become a University and workplace of choice.
  93. Will we be doing a follow-up survey in a year or two to find out how changes worked out?
    Addressed in questions 84 and 92.
  94. What changes are you planning to make based on the survey results?
    Addressed in question 39.
  95. Will the results be available per University area? Division?
    Addressed in question 39.
  96. How are the challenges being addressed?
    Addressed in question 39.
  97. Have you already identified some things that you can improve/change easily now? What and how?
    Addressed in question 41.
  98. What are you requiring/process are you recommending of supervisors and deans and chairs in regards to responding to survey?
    Addressed in question 39.
  99. Will the full results be shared?
    Addressed in question 39.
  100. When will the full details of the survey be released?
    Addressed in question 39.
  101. What element of the survey mobilized you to take corrective action?
    Addressed in questions 39 and 41.
  102. Will the next survey be as broad or will it be more focused on the areas of concerns?
    Addressed in questions 84 and 92.
  103. Will VPs or unit heads have access to dept-level survey results?
    Addressed in question 39.
  104. Were any of the survey results disappointing or unexpected?
    The revelation that 37% of people who took the survey deemed the University not well-run was disappointing. However, like other results, this was instructive and represents a call to action. Along with the bright spots revealed in the results, senior leaders are keenly interested in uncovering opportunities for growth and, on every level, making change where necessary. This was the impetus for conducting the survey. Blame isn't productive. The focus should be on developing solutions to improve University operations.
  105. Will full survey results be available online?
    Addressed in question 85.
  106. How will the president seek campus input on evaluation of cabinet members? What will the instruments be?
    Addressed question in 6.
  107. Will we be able to see how WMU's results compare to other institutions of similar size and complexity?
    Survey findings for WMU are benchmarked against peer institutions, and those results are reported in the document.
  108. How does the University propose to improve staff/faculty relations?
    Understanding where there are areas of improvement is a necessary first step. Working with our colleagues around campus to focus and improve our communication, collaboration, and systems within and across units is our next step. Improving our culture requires all of us to engage.
  109. Will a comparable survey be sent out to students so we can connect student satisfaction with employee satisfaction?
    The University administers the National Survey of Student Engagement on a regular basis to students. This survey includes questions that address student satisfaction. In addition, a campus climate survey is being planned.
  110. What percentage thought not well run?  There are some areas I agree with but think under new leadership it is improving.
    Addressed question in 104.
  111. How do you actually plan to apply this data?
    Addressed in question 39.
  112. In general, when we have suggestions for campus, who do we submit them to? Is there a suggestion box at WMU?
    On this, the Employee Engagement website, you can send us a comment and also engage in an exercise called "Help Define Success." These are good starts. We’ll think about how we might create a more long-term solution for this.
  113. Was the 50% response rate about the same for both faculty and staff?
    Addressed question in 84.
  114. Will non-union staff members be receiving our cost of living raise this year?
    Addressed in question 15.
  115. How quickly will you move to make change?
    Addressed in question 39.
  116. Will we have access to responses from our particular department?
    Addressed in question 39.
  117. How long do you anticipate change to happen after processing these survey results?
    Addressed in question 82.
  118. What survey responses surprised you? What did not?
    Addressed in question 104.
  119. Is the cabinet committed to upholding the University's research-intensive status, or do they envision us becoming a different kind of University than we have tried to be in the last 15-20 years?
    President Montgomery stated in his first State of the University address in 2017, “We just completed a year with a grant total of $27 million. My goal is to raise that to $50 million. You might think, 'He's dreaming; that it's a stretch.' But let me remind you that less than a decade ago, our annual research dollars regularly exceeded $40 million.” WMU has responded to that challenge and for FY18 the total of award dollars increased by 46% from $25.8 million to $37.7 million (adjusted to 30.5% or $33.7 million after removing funding from years 2-5 of a $5 million grant from NSF).  The number of awards increased by 21.7%, indicating an increase in the average dollar amount of new awards. Universitywide expenditures were up 19.4%.  These are only one year’s numbers, but they are a great start to reaching that goal. Future collaborative work within the Cabinet and with the Deans and academic leaders and across the University on strategic and diverse hiring, research development, increased partnerships outside WMU, philanthropy and more will help meet that goal. 
  120. What connection does this process have with the Think Big mission? Will the two initiatives be joined at some point?
    Think Big is already joined to this process in three ways. First, the community principles emerged from Think Big. Second, Think Big will provide the unifying sense of identity that many people tell us is needed and that also was surfaced in the planning sessions. Third, the strategy set out by Think Big will provide a framework for empowering members of the Western community to be part of moving the University forward in their own way.
  121. What are the most successful colleges and universities doing that we are not doing? What is standing in our way?
    The most successful colleges and universities create mechanisms for adaptation and change; they are also disciplined in their execution of strategy. We need to move beyond thinking we are average.
  122. Would you consider WMU as a "progressive" institution? If not, would you like to be?
    WMU is undergoing strategic transformation. Together we will discover a new organizational ethos where faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders come together to challenge convention by inspiring positive change through directly contributing to societal good. We are focused on dissolving silos to further nurture both progressive and collaborative thinking. WMU will lead progression as the University of Choice for the region and beyond.
  123. In the response regarding accountability, it was all about development. What if the development doesn't occur?
    Progress and improvement must occur. WMU’s future success will be developed upon this foundation. Our dedication to transparency through open analysis and regular communication establishes a shared expectation of accountability. Methods that fall short will be discontinued or improved to align with goals that evolve.
  124. Can you separate the data about professional development into work groups? Staff are almost never offered professional development so I'm surprised to see it.
    Addressed in question 84.
  125. Is there a possibility of employees and staff using their benefits (i.e. taking classes, going to University events) during the work day without taking annual leave?
    This is a determination made by unit managers.
  126. Will the University address growth and promotion opportunities for internal candidates? Are we committed to succession planning?
    See question 131. Additionally, succession planning is certainly worth more time and exploration by campus leadership.
  127. How to address training for supervisors regarding fairness, setting realistic goals, job load, making time for regular feedback?
    Addressed in question 131.
  128. How will you ensure better guidance and opportunity for part-time faculty?
    Part-time faculty perform an important service for WMU and its students. More detail would be helpful in addressing this question. As an initial response, the part-time faculty’s department should be taking the lead. WMU Human Resource’s new employee orientation also continues to serve as a proven way to learn about WMU and other relevant information for new employees—and especially our part-time faculty as they begin their appointments.
  129. Are merit based pay raises being considered for staff, outside of a retention offer?
    Yes, this item is being considered. The process for determining how to proceed and timing remain unknown and will be receiving future attention. Also please note that the process for discretionary pay adjustments and other types of off-scheduled pay increases are defined within the Staff Compensation System Administrative Guidelines and are subject to the approval of division leadership.
  130. Faculty leadership doesn't need more training. Why not use the leadership talent we have in Senate and elsewhere?
    As many of our systems change in the next years, all leaders will need training. Our new CRM and admissions tool (TargetX), our new budget model and the accompanying language and implementation opportunities require all of us to learn new ways of doing business. Succession planning and leadership development is critical to our success; effective leadership in one area is rarely transferred without new learning requirements and opportunities.
  131. How are development or growth opportunities being looked at for staff that do not have another job to advance or get promote to anywhere in the University?
    (Also covers questions 126, 127, 132, 133 and 135) Professional development can occur at the departmental level where the individual and manager can agree upon specific conferences and events to allow for this learning opportunity. The site and the are good references to learn about WMU's more-broadly provided professional development opportunities.

    Currently, the Everyone Counts Faculty and Staff Learning Communities, offered through the Office of Faculty Development, are on hiatus this year with a steering committee working on a “Year of Innovation” for the program. Since the inception of the integrated faculty/staff learning communities in 2010, these offerings have provided opportunities for employees to participate in focused and themed campus projects, expand networking opportunities with employees from across campus, and help to reinvigorate a sense of meaning and purpose into the professional offerings for our employees. We look forward to offering the integrated professional learning communities in the upcoming year.

    Professional development opportunities are offered at multiple times and locations to be responsive to the variety of schedules and interests. As it relates to billable hours, it is common practice to allow for a component dedicated to training, vacation, illness or other absences.

    In developing the professional development opportunities, input is sought from participants on subject relevancy as well as other course changes that are desired. Input has also been requested from employee membership groups such as the APA and PSSO.  Following each staff training series session, a survey is sent to each attendee. The survey feedback helps refine presentation information and to better understand what other sessions employees may be interested in having included in future training series. Please forward any suggestions you may have regarding training to Human Resources. We need to provide meaningful opportunities.

    In addition to professional development opportunities, tuition discount is also available to faculty and staff.  We want you to continue to explore and learn regarding topics that are of interest to you and may serve you well as you consider future opportunities. "
  132. How can an employee who wants to participate in the various offered professional development courses attend if they must meet minimum weekly billable hours?
    Addressed in question 131.
  133. What is the plan to offer ongoing, relevant, helpful professional development for staff?
    Addressed in question 131.
  134. In my perspective, there is little incentive or room for growth for the administrative assistant positions. Is there any plans for changing this?
    The Staff Compensation System is a market-based system. Engaging Aon, or a similar consulting partner, is critical for reviewing the changes in the job market to ensure that WMU’s structure remains aligned with market and is prepared to support additional processes like a merit-pay component. Positions are defined based upon the duties that are performed. Market is used to set the compensation range. It could be that the individual’s skill set and experience have advanced to where other opportunities should be considered.
  135. Could someone review the programs or efforts made in leadership development at WMU and refer to application locations to access?
    Addressed in question 131.
  136. Why don't we actually support research grantsmanship it seems?  How does our infrastructure for this compare to MSU?
    This was a recognized need at WMU and since January of 2019 we have had our first research development professional, Kay Mortellaro, on staff.  Programs such as the all-day grantwriters workshop in April, new Research Workshops by Appointment and new Discovery acceleration workshops based on the feedback and needs of our faculty and staff are examples that are starting to address that need. Other suggestions to Kay Mortellaro are welcome, and she has met with each dean to help identify their needs moving forward. Note MSU had research expenditures of $694,197,000 in FY17 compared to $22,372,000 for WMU. So, the scale is very different. However, MSU is running the exact same all-day grant workshop we ran in April 2019 next May 2020.  We also network nationally to bring best practices, at our scale, to WMU. 
  137. What is the plan to continue increasing externally funded research?
    Addressed in questions 119 and 136.
  138. With budget cuts and staff being expected to do more with less, how are compensation and benefits levels going to keep up with cost of living in Kalamazoo?
    For WMU, the survey question, “This University’s benefits meet my needs,” received an overall positive rating of 72. Benefits are compared to what is offered by other Michigan universities, locale, and employers of a similar size. For staff, WMU engaged Aon to review market compensation rates (local, state, or national, depending upon the position). Compensation for staff will continue to be evaluated against the appropriate market. 
  139. Why haven't raises been addressed at all? Some communication is better than none.
    Addressed question in 15.
  140. Is there a way that leaders could collectively demonstrate their commitment to staff members by forgoing a salary increase and redirecting it to staff members?
    Thank you for the suggestion. Deliberations on the executive leadership team regarding salary increases was ongoing for several months prior to this forum suggestion. Numerous options were considered and again will be analyzed in future budget cycles. Cabinet deeply values the effort of staff in providing an exemplary living learning experience for our students and stakeholders.
  141. Why are we still spending money on Aon Hewitt to calibrate staff positions/salaries when so few have actually been impacted by these evaluations?
    Answered in question 134.
  142. Can we look at the flex policy to make it more usable to staff to use benefits to take classes, and still meet needs of units? Help work life balance.
    The survey question, “My supervisor/department chair supports my efforts to balance my work and personal life,” received a WMU overall positive rating of 78. The position responsibilities as well as department services and size are unique for each individual.  This situation is best managed through conversations between the individual and his or her manager rather than a policy.
  143. Some of the inefficiencies that exist today result from old standing grudges/politics. How can we streamline and reduce some of the duplicate systems?
    The new Strategic Resource Management budget model should address this as responsibility centers will be looking for ways to reduce costs and enhance revenues.
  144. Why is lack of leadership at all levels accepted here?
    Addressed in question 11.
  145. Relationships with senior administration were an issue of concern in the results...what are senior administrators planning to do to repair those relationships?
    (Also addresses question 169) Cabinet heeds this concern. As a result, a team has been formed to focus on devising strategy and authenticity around forging relationships, trust, and confidence with staff. Early discussions have led to developing connections through alternating locations for Cabinet meetings where area staff can further engage. Cabinet members have also committed to a Cabinet Agreement of Expected Behaviors to guide future effort. Feedback from staff and assessing our progress will be important as is maintaining multiple conduits for staff to provide open and honest perspectives, concerns and suggestions without any fear of recourse. Shared ideas and effort will move WMU forward.
  146. What are your plans for building a cohesive senior leadership team given that you represent such diverse constituencies?
    Addressed in question 72.
  147. Do you have any plans to help move along leaders in specific departments who have potentially stagnated in their roles?
    Leadership changes are ongoing and a regular course of change that occur at all organizations. We remain respectful of the communication and evidence-based process that is followed in these situations.
  148. What does the senior management find as most challenging and what is it doing about it?
    Addressed in question 11.
  149. What have the "new" senior leaders found most exciting and most frustrating about the WMU environment?
    A reoccurring theme observed by many of the new administrators and confirmed by Cabinet colleagues who span the transition is the expressed desire of staff to improve our university offering. Attendance at forums, participation on action teams and ideas shared daily combined with numerous examples of staff throughout the University genuinely caring is at the core of WMU. On the contrary, Cabinet has worked hard internally and externally to disband the silo thinking and behavior.
  150. How is Senior Leadership going to work more collaboratively within cabinet, to show the ripple effect?
    Addressed in question 72.
  151. Why blame current senior leadership?
    Addressed in question 104.
  152. Are senior leaders being evaluated by their performance? I know in the past there were no end-of-the-year evaluations.
    Addressed in question 6.
  153. What steps are you considering to address the reported lack of support/belief in sr leadership?
    Addressed in question 6.
  154. What kind of changes do you think would help build confidence in senior leadership?
    Addressed in question 145.
  155. What is the President's role in Think Big?
    President Montgomery has participated in a town hall or town halls in each phase. He has also provided presidential guidance and input at every phase. Think Big advances all three of the three Rs— Reputation, Revenue and Retention (and persistence)—that the president has laid out as challenges to the campus. Ultimately, Think Big is a facilitated process for becoming “a school of choice,” his charge to us as a campus. At the same time, President Montgomery has valued and encouraged the co-creation nature of the initiative and has sought to make space for the University community to create the vision together.
  156. Why don't we have an anti-bullying policy yet the Everfi training recommends one that is different from the anti-discrimination policy for protected classes?
    Excellent question.  Senior leadership is aware of the need to develop and implement an anti-bullying policy.  The Office of the General Counsel, Human Resources, and the Office of Institutional Equity have been in dialogue about an anti-bullying policy and related procedures.  They hope to have them in place before the spring semester.
  157. Why isn't there a lower- level staff member on the cabinet?
    Cabinet actively engages staff in shaping the future of WMU. This partnership is a must. There are two members of Cabinet who are exempt/salaried staff members. We are currently developing strategies to improve communications and further cultivate information sharing, concept development, and future planning. Executive leaders are committed to demonstrating accountability to our commitments and progress with outcomes. Stakeholders will see increased opportunity for involvement as the University continues to transform.
  158. Why does only one member of cabinet directly come from academic affairs - the heart and soul of the University and our mission?
    Cabinet is composed of the vice presidents from each area responsible for the operations of the university. All perspectives are necessary to make informed and strategic decisions. Each vice president gathers input on strategic direction from the members of their organization, as does the provost.
  159. Have you thought about using our strategic goals and using these to create organization, department, process, and job goals that cascade and trickle down through the organization to ultimately achieve these?
    Addressed in question 11.
  160. Staff are at the front lines and see what works and what does not. How do you plan to engage staff in shaping procedures and processes?
    Addressed in question 157.
  161. Are we planning to do a student survey?
    Addressed in question 109.
  162. Engaged employees are more productive. Increased productivity allows us to better serve our internal and external stakeholders. 
  163. How are we planning to increase student's ability to afford education at WMU?
    We are working to more strategically package financial aid for our students to better meet their initial and evolving needs over their time at WMU. Our financial literacy team in financial aid (ranked 35th in the nation) works to help our students and their families understand the impact of choices on short- and long-term affordability. We take the cost of education and the rising levels of debt nationally and within our student body quite seriously.
  164. Who approved graduate students paying grad level tuition for undergraduate classes?
    This was an existing policy that was not consistently followed in tuition billing and was corrected for Summer II 2019.
  165. When and how was this communicated to graduate students?
    Graduate students were invited to participate if they were teaching or researching for the institution (i.e., on assistantship) as this was an employee engagement effort.
  166. How will students' perceptions of our institution be surveyed and communicated across the University?
    Addressed in question 109.
  167. Do you plan on surveying the students to understand their opinions and see the issues they have with the University?
    Addressed in question 109.
  168. How can we have trust when we have heard of things possibly being outsourced?
    The world is changing faster than ever before. Similarly, our students' and society's needs and expectations are also changing. This is not unique to WMU or higher education. As we adapt and move forward, trust will be built on the principle that we put our students and others we serve at the center of our decisions. Any other choice will cause us to fall short of our mission and potentially diminish the University.
  169. How do you build trust with employees who feel their future at WMU is in jeopardy?
    Addressed in question 145.
  170. How can we trust that the University will make the changes and how will we know that these changes have been made?
    Addressed in question 39.
  171. How can we trust the cabinet and feel like we won't lose our job for being honest especially when the problems start with our VP?
    Addressed in question 6.
  172. My position is a "terminal" position which leads me to believe the University doesn't value me or my work. Why are so many positions "terminal"?
    There are multiple reasons as to why a position can be terminal. It could be that the responsibilities only exist for a finite period of time. As an example, construction activity has fluctuated over the years at WMU. The need for construction managers also fluctuates based on the level of work. Course offerings vary depending upon students’ needs and enrollment. Terminal positions can also exist as a result of the funding source for the work. For example, this situation would exist if the funding source is a grant or a contract award. Regardless of the type of position, both the work and individual are valued.


Questions from the online feedback form

Those who submitted questions also provided a subject line, shown in brackets before the question.

  1. [Governance] Suppose that the resources provided by the State of Michigan continue to decline. At what point does the State no longer have any legitimate authority to determine the Board of Trustees? Who is taking on the responsibility of protecting the University's interests at the highest levels by having frank and politically challenging conversations with the State?
    The governance structure of WMU is defined by the state of Michigan's Constitution. Any change to how our board is appointed would require a constitutional amendment. As a public university, the Board of Trustees, President Montgomery and the Office of Government Relations are regularly engaged with our elected officials. While the state share of our budget has been shrinking for the last two decades, we must recognize WMU will receive $112M in state operating funds during this fiscal year and we regularly receive partial funding for academic building renovations. Our elected officials must hear from more than just campus administrators. The collective voice of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community supporters is more impactful. Let your elected officials hear directly from you that state support for higher education and WMU is a top priority. You can sign up for the Bronco Advocacy Network to stay informed on policy activities and to help you advocate on behalf of WMU at
  2. [A smaller, better Western] Suppose that, per what seem to be clear trends, the enrollment and retention continue, but at a slowed and managed pace. Suppose that we plan for a near future of 18,000 students and a long-term future of 15,000 students, and suppose we succeed at the planning for those futures, and Western thrives as a smaller, better university. Why isn't that a great idea?
    Academic Affairs and Business and Finance have partnered together to create a ten-year enrollment and budget plan that examines multiple enrollment and state funding scenarios to better understand and predict how changes in our external environment will impact the institution. We believe the quality education and experiences we provide will position us to positively influence our enrollment outcome.
  3. [Maternity Leave] How can WMU justify and condone the lack of/disgusting maternity leave policy? WMU makes it extremely difficult for a woman to have a baby and have a mentally and physically appropriate leave.
    Thank you for sharing your perspective regarding this topic. WMU continues to review its leave plans offered to both faculty and staff.
  4. [Committees and Representation] Why aren't there more opportunities for administrative assistants of any level to sit on committees that decide the future of WMU? We have a lot of insight that is ignored currently.
    The current administration is dedicated to soliciting input and project focused perspective from all involved stakeholders. Numerous examples exist where administrative assistants have played key roles as engaged team members on Universitywide initiatives. Future involvement is encouraged and supported. To this end, a letter from Cabinet to the supervisors of leaders and members of staff organizations (APA and PSSO) encouraged support for reasonable release time for meetings and events where engagement is beneficial.
  5. [Wages] How do you maintain a pleasant work environment when your skilled license trades like electricians who have to pay for and maintain a license to work here , look at wages at the end of the year and see that painters and st1 positions make more money than them with less responsibility. With everyone with longevity makes more than the positions you have trouble hiring. These people pride themselves on being educated and staying safe on the job. Electricians for example always have a risk of fire or knowing if the work performed is skimped on someone’s child may be hurt r worse. And that with the daily work performed there’s always a chance of them getting hurt themselves. Now this is not something they think about this is something we have trained for. But when you look at the other side and say well I could paint and not worry and pretty much make the same or more than that doesn’t seem right. Thanks
    The perspective is important. Wages are a work condition governed by a collective bargaining agreement. WMU complies with the agreement and is not able to provide further commentary.
  6. [How can we (staff, faculty, students, alumni, and external stakeholders) support these initiatives for change] As our University continues to grow and change, what options are available for staff, faculty, students, alumni, and external stakeholders to meaningfully support the changes - how can we get involved to ensure that the changes we make are positive and lasting?
    Change is upon us and the time to engage is now. On an individual level, we encourage you to get involved in the activities and opportunities both in your division and throughout the University. Encourage your colleagues to have a voice in the betterment of WMU. Help be a steward of accountability by fostering collaboration and promoting organizational success.
  7. [Fall break] Would it be possible to allow staff to have fall/spring breaks off? Or Fridays in the summer like KVCC does? I believe this would contribute greatly to staff morale.
    WMU is comprised of many individual departments, many of them that provide unique services to different populations. Peak demand period varies among both days of the week as well as months/seasons during the year. WMU has chosen to offer staff both nationally recognized holidays as well as the holiday closure as time off. We also encourage staff to use annual leave, with supervisor approval, for those periods/times during the year that are important to the individual. WMU continues to strive to serve those who depend upon our services throughout the year.