Strategic Direction #3 – Enhance Our External Partnerships

WCU is recognized as an active partner with the Western North Carolina region, its communities, organizations, and businesses.

Partnerships with regional businesses and industries, nonprofits, civic organizations, government agencies, communities, and cities are an integral part of WCU’s core mission as a recognized, regionally engaged university. The University’s emphasis on integrated learning experiences, its commitment to engaged scholarship, and its embrace of the institution’s role as both a steward of this unique and special place and a catalyst for economic and community development all demonstrate and reinforce WCU’s commitment to enhancing engagement with external partners.

Strengthen relationships and communication between the University and its external partners.

  • Initiative 3.1.1: Senior campus leadership will model the institution’s commitment to community outreach and involvement.
  • Initiative 3.1.2: Establish an annual leadership tour of the Western North Carolina region designed to reinforce WCU’s connection with its external constituents and to update University leadership consistently about regional and local priorities.
  • Initiative 3.1.3: Establish the appropriate leadership and organizational structure at WCU to support, coordinate, and facilitate external partnerships and collaborations.
  • Initiative 3.1.4: Create an institutional council with representatives from each division and college to enhance internal communication about external partnerships and engagement, including the sponsorship of an annual inventory of such activities.
  • Initiative 3.1.5: Develop and implement a communications plan that informs Western Carolina University’s external community about University resources (inventoried annually), such as programs, services, facilities, and faculty/staff expertise that are available to the public. (See Initiative 6.2.1)

Position the University as a key leader in regional economic and community development efforts.

  • Initiative 3.2.1: Facilitate an annual conference for regional government, nonprofit, community, education, and business leaders to focus attention and action on regional strategies for economic and community development.
  • Initiative 3.2.2: Develop the West Campus, with its Millennial Initiative designation, as a national model for building, in a rural context, public-private partnerships that are integrated into the academic enterprise and which support community and economic development.
  • Initiative 3.2.3: Develop the programs at Biltmore Park to position WCU as a key provider of graduate and professional programs in the greater Asheville-Hendersonville area along the I-26 growth corridor.
  • Initiative 3.2.4: Work with external partners to facilitate economic and community development in Cullowhee and Jackson County, which form the University’s backyard, and participate in the formation of formalized community leadership for Cullowhee that can serve as the voice of the community as it anticipates growth and development. (See Initiative 4.3.2)
  • Initiative 3.2.5: Seek out and implement internal synergies among outreach efforts and potential partnerships that are focused on economic and community development and consistent with the curricular focus areas identified by the 2020 Commission.
  • Initiative 3.2.6: Facilitate collaborative research and development efforts between WCU and external partners.

Align internal processes and reward systems to foster external engagement.

  • Initiative 3.3.1: Develop models and strategies to formally recognize and reward faculty and staff participation in educationally-based external engagement.
  • Initiative 3.3.2: Ensure that all division and departmental personnel processes, including those related to annual faculty evaluation, tenure, promotion, and review, provide faculty and staff the formal opportunity to detail and describe educationally-based external engagement activities.
  • Initiative 3.3.3: Promote the University’s support of staff-initiated community service.
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