Provost's Announcement

Friday, February 14, 2020

 

Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to share with you exciting news about the evolution and transformation of our Extended University Programs (EUP) unit, including its new name, its new vision, and new opportunities for you to help design its future scope and services.

There are very few opportunities we get in higher education to take significant steps toward change. These sort of steps are sometimes met with resistance or skepticism, but I am confident that our institution is ready for something new. We’re ready in part because we have no other option other than change. In order to respond proactively to a shifting world, we need to adopt a posture of evolution, iteration, prototyping, and maybe even instructive failure and experimentation. Above all, we must begin to design our future.

Associate Provost Ed Martini and his team have been hard at work over the past year imagining what role their unit can play in Western Michigan University's transformation. This transformation will see the evolution of EUP to become WMUx.

WMUx is a new name, but it will also be a different type of unit. On the surface, the “x” in WMUx maintains a connection to the unit’s origin in “extended” programming, but on a deeper level, the name represents a redefined role and purpose for the unit: as a catalyst for re-imagining teaching and learning across all platforms and modalities, as a foundation for growth and evolution through a focus on what’s “next,” and as a multiplier of the creative capacity of different units and stakeholders across campus. At its core, WMUx exists to collaboratively imagine, design, and realize ideas that transform and enhance the learning experience.

As I shared with you last November, this new unit will continue to serve as the home for several critical functions and services, including instructional design, online education, E-learning support, regional location operations, non-credit and professional development offerings, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Collegiate Pathways dual enrollment programs, and market research. WMUx is also enhancing its role in supporting innovation at the university by building a new type of unit, driven by design-thinking, collaboration, and experimentation for the development of new ideas designed to move the University forward in reaching new markets and diversifying revenue streams.

Finally, WMUx will also expand its role as an academic support unit by unifying instructional support services under one umbrella. It began this work last semester by assuming operational responsibility for the Faculty Technology Center (FTC), and will do the same this semester for the Office of Faculty Development (OFD). Ed’s team has already invested in improving the FTC space, and next week we will launch an internal search for a new, full-time director of OFD.

This entire transformation from EUP to WMUx represents a significant investment in the core academic mission of the university, by unifying instructional support, breaking down distinctions between learning locations and modalities, and allocating resources to support and properly fund offices such as FTC and OFD. But this is only the beginning of the transformation; now we need your help.

Today marks the beginning of WMUx, but it also marks the beginning of an important conversation, and an invitation for all of us to help imagine, design, and realize the vision for this new unit. If you are interested in shaping the future of teaching and learning at WMU, there are several upcoming opportunities to do just that. Over the rest of the semester, the WMUx team will be engaged in a listening tour across campus, presenting at meetings, conducting interviews with faculty and other instructors, and hosting a series of design workshops to help guide the creation of the new structures, processes, and spaces that can support transformative learning initiatives across and beyond our campuses. More information, regular updates of activities of frequently asked questions, and opportunities to engage can be found at https://wmich.edu/x.

I want to thank Ed and his team for the hard work they have done and the difficult choices they have made to begin to lay the foundation for this vision. I hope you will join the WMUx team on the listening tour and make sure that your voice is heard as we build this future together.

With deep appreciation for all that you do,

Jen