KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Stakeholders are beginning to get to work identifying recommendations to guide the future of Western Michigan University. The institution is developing a new Strategic Plan to prepare for the decade ahead.
"This is a transformative moment for Western Michigan University, and it's time to rethink the limits we've put on ourselves and, collectively, map our future," says Dr. Jennifer Bott, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
The process began in fall 2021 with the creation of a 17-person cross-campus steering committee, chaired by the provost. Western community members were also invited to attend town hall listening sessions and engage in surveys designed to spark reflection and generate ideas about the University's core purpose, what future success might look like and the values that define WMU. A virtual suggestion box remains open online.
"Our process this year demonstrates continuous improvement and builds on the many, many efforts that we've undertaken together over the last several years including the campus climate survey, the employee engagement survey, our Think Big initiative as well as other national data sources," Bott says.
Working groups have now been formed to address seven key University priorities:
Academic excellence: Identifying opportunities for enhancing Western's academic programs, teaching and learning methods, and curricular offerings.
Community building: Examining how to create an environment at Western that fosters a sense of belonging, safety and support for all students, faculty and staff as well as finding opportunities to engage in and strengthen relationships with the greater regional community.
Diversity, equity and inclusion: Evaluating the state of diversity, equity and inclusion on campus; determining how Western can better represent, serve and empower all members of its community; and identifying structures that create barriers to achieving institutional goals.
Internationalization: Exploring ways to connect with students on a globally engaged scale by enhancing learning through borderless classrooms, a diversified curriculum and stronger collaborative relationships with international partners.
Research and innovation: Analyzing opportunities for Western to advance the frontiers of knowledge and foster excellence in scholarship, discovery and creative activities.
Sustainability: Investigating how Western can prioritize its commitment to protecting natural resources and better educating the community on the importance of short- and long-term solutions to minimizing negative impacts of climate change.
Well-being: Discovering what Western can do to better safeguard the overall health of its community through education.
The working groups represent a diverse cross section of University stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and community members. They will spend spring 2022 drafting recommendations for the Strategic Plan related to their designated priorities based on the SOAR model, identifying strengths, opportunities and aspirations and discussing meaningful and measurable results. Each working group will hold listening sessions through the spring term to gather community input as they draft these recommendations.
"Charting the course for a thriving future requires a road map, and ours is the Strategic Plan," Bott says.
The steering committee will compile those recommendations and develop a first draft of the plan in summer 2022. Review, final approval and launch of the Strategic Plan is expected in fall 2022. Help contribute to the University's future and stay up to date on progress on the initiative's webpage.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.