Faculty / Staff Conversation - Session 19

Theme 1: SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)

What are WCU’s greatest strengths?

  • International Programs – perspective of the whole world (exchange programs, all initiatives to support international involvement).
  • Our technology resources are very good for our size (i.e., new Technology Commons).
  • Location: Beautiful mountain setting and rural community (we need to capitalize on it; it is unnecessary and misleading to sell WCU as in or very near Asheville)
  • Student-faculty relationships --e.g., student-faculty scholarship, “high touch,” faculty who take their teaching to heart, students know their professors before senior year (unlike at larger universities)
  • Faculty Commons

What are WCU’s greatest weaknesses?

Academic units and support/service units need to work together better toward accomplishing the academic mission of the university (communication needs to be
driven by academic policy).
  • Not all faculty (depending on discipline as well as rank) have the sense that the institution values them.
  • Class sizes are getting too big; not enough lecture halls for large classes.
  • Numbers of sections and of faculty for LS courses are shrinking
  • “Top-heavy” in the middle-management category (e.g., number of Associate Deans);reallocate these resources.
  • Affordable housing opportunities.
  • Assistance helping faculty transition here.
  • Boyer Model needs to be better understood; e.g., about peer-review in each area; about the difference between engaged teaching and doing scholarship/research.
  • Treatment of and dependence on adjuncts to teach LS and lower-level courses. Parttime faculty (adjuncts) are paid poorly; not well-informed about WCU; are not valued institutionally.
  • Theme 2: Priorities and vision

    What would you consider to be WCU’s #1 future priority?

    • Keep in mind we’re an academic institution when establishing priorities for budgetary requirements. Keep students involved in scholarly activities to continue WCU’s
      excellent reputation on this front. Retain our key mission of teaching and learning and prevent its erosion amid budget issues. Continue rewarding scholarship.
    • “The Western Way” should continue –focus on students and relationships with them in teaching and career preparation.
    • Maintain budget funding to allow LS courses to be taught by all departments.
    • Maintain admission requirements as well as academic standards for enrolled students.

    Where would you like to see WCU in 5-10 years?

    Where would you like to see WCU in 5-10 years, regarding students?
    Keep international opportunities in place for our students.

    Where would you like to see WCU in 5-10 years, regarding quality?
    UNCA could be absorbed by WCU since UNCA is funding fewer students (enrollment of around 3K students – far less than WCU does—justify UNCA’s campus size and resources?). UNCA also does not have a graduate program, and WCU graduate programs on UNCA campus have muddied identity.

    Morale among faculty will be increased because WCU will stop asking faculty to do more with less—to get no raises yet do more work with fewer resources.

    Directives to faculty should flow through hierarchy of academic administrative channels; faculty should not be instructed to complete tasks that haven’t gone through these channels.

    Where would you like to see WCU in 5-10 years, regarding class size?
    Keep class sizes reasonable for all disciplines.

    Where would you like to see WCU in 5-10 years, regarding scholarship?
    More faculty involved in scholarship

    Where would you like to see WCU in 5-10 years, regarding campus size?
    We should not grow to be a “huge” institution and lose our engagement with students.


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