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Strategic Direction #1 – Academic Excellence

We commit to providing our students with a 21st century rigorous curriculum that is composed of the intellectual, creative, cultural, and personal outcomes necessary to advance and excel.

Goal 1.1: Deliver high-quality educational programs that enhance students’ intellectual, creative, personal, and social development and prepare them for career fields as well as to advance and excel as 21st century citizens.

  • 1.1.1: Ensure and promote relevant, high-quality undergraduate and graduate degree programs by implementing ongoing reviews and instituting curricular and program improvements based on WCU’s standards for academic programs. Academic programs include on-campus, off-campus, online, and international degree programs.
  • 1.1.2: Identify, pursue, and promote opportunities for new and revised academic programs of quality, relevance, and sustainable demand with the capacity, resources, and ability to grow enrollment.
  • 1.1.3: Incentivize and support programs and courses that include cross-curricular, interdisciplinary, and experiential learning.
  • 1.1.4: Expand experiences that enhance a global awareness and cultural understanding among WCU students and promote integration of international components into existing and new curricula.
  • 1.1.5: Expand educational programming around academic integrity and truth seeking to promote a culture of (student) academic honesty.
  • 1.1.6: Coordinate, integrate, and highlight WCU’s learning goals and co-curricular outcomes into curricular and co-curricular experiences.

Goal 1.2: Promote teaching excellence as the successful engagement of our students in learning, experimenting, creating, and achieving their full potential.

  • 1.2.1: Enhance faculty professional development opportunities with a focus on a pedagogical approach and curriculum design that engage students through high-impact learning and evidence-based practices.
  • 1.2.2: Update departmental collegial review documents to align with university policies on engaging students, innovative teaching, advising, scholarship of teaching and learning, and support of our community and region.
  • 1.2.3: Recognize, promote, and celebrate outstanding programs, faculty, staff, and students that contribute to
    • teaching, research, and service;
    • the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion;
    • leadership roles;
    • service to the regional community;
    • advising/mentoring;
    • demonstration of ethical decision-making;
    • innovative idea or program implementation.

Goal 1.3: Promote and enhance cultural, environmental, economic, and regional development through educational programs, scholarship/creative activity, and service. 

  • 1.3.1: Provide learning opportunities for students to engage in the natural landscape and cultural heritage of the Southern Appalachian region.
  • 1.3.2: Continue building a campus culture of service; one that focuses on community engagement, is broadly available, and maintains high rates of student participation that is inclusive, thus positioning WCU as a leader in the state, region, and nationally.
  • 1.3.3: Enhance, incentivize, and highlight scholarship, research, teaching, creative inquiry, and cultural activity that contribute to regional/community development that positively impact North Carolina or the Western North Carolina region.
  • 1.3.4: Encourage interdisciplinary initiatives in academic programs, research, and/or academic centers that connect business, sciences, engineering, technology, entrepreneurship, as well as the arts, education, recreation, and health professionals.
  • 1.3.5: Encourage external collaboration of faculty, staff, and students with industry, start-ups, research institutes, non-profits, and government agencies.

Goal 1.4: Promote excellence in scholarship, research, creative inquiry, and cultural activity.

  • 1.4.1: Value, promote, and provide opportunities for faculty-student scholarly collaborations with undergraduate and graduate populations.
  • 1.4.2: Improve internal and external promotion of collaborative scholarship, research, creative, and cultural activity
  • 1.4.3: Promote interdisciplinary learning, research, engagement, and idea exchange.
  • 1.4.4: Increase the number offered and the amount of support provided for research assistantships, tuition waivers, and student stipends through external funding and internal support.

Goal 1.5: Expand and support WCU’s capacity to serve students and eliminate barriers to program and resource access.

  • 1.5.1: Expand and enhance networks of regional advisory committees to strengthen communication and collaboration among K‐12, community college, and WCU in the areas of:
    • curriculum goals and transferability;
    • the importance and value of higher education and the best strategies for marketing and recruiting; and
    • admissions and financial aid.
  • 1.5.2: Determine institutional capacity for resident and distance summer session offerings for a wide variety of learners: undergraduate, K-12, and graduate students; adult and life-long learners.
  • 1.5.3: Increase communication and marketing of summer opportunities in academic programs, short-term programming, research opportunities, internships, and other practical experiences for both students and others who reside in WNC.
  • 1.5.4: Assure affordability of summer school offerings for both WCU degree-seeking students and those seeking credits for other institutions by adopting financial supports such as summer employment opportunities, NC Promise funding for summer sessions, and other financial aid opportunities.

 Goal 1.6: Continue to coordinate WCU's student enrollment and retention strategies to ensure strengthened balance of access, diversity and student success, institutional mission, and sustainable revenue sources. 

  • 1.6.1: Refine and adapt the strategic enrollment plan to meet student enrollment targets while maintaining academic rigor in our educational programs.
  • 1.6.2: Increase and track student diversity, ensuring that support services are in place to enroll and meet the needs of a diverse student body that reflects state, national, and international demographic trends.
  • 1.6.3: Continue to develop innovative data-driven methods of monitoring and enhancing student success at the individual level.
  • 1.6.4: Meet or exceed UNC System designated institutional goals in support of the WCU mission:
    • Prioritize low-income and rural enrollment and completion, as well as critical workforce credentials.
    • Improve five-year graduation rates and efficiency in undergraduate degrees and undergraduate achievement gaps.
    • Increase research productivity.
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