Comments Submitted on WCU's Strategic Plan

Updated: April 25, 2012, 11:00AM

Comments are listed in descending order based on date submitted.

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 1:49 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : By a number of indicators the U.S. federal government is as dysfunctional as it has been in its history -- more so than ever by some measures (supportive data exist). Likewise, the "fairness and balance" (and independence, and investigative prowess) of the American press is severely challenged. There is widespread pessimism in the country and, if you talk with them, considerable pessimism and cynicism among our students. What in this strategic plan addresses fundamental issues of good government and a vibrant press? These two domains run even deeper than issues of climate change, sustainable living, health care, affordable education, and concentration of wealth. While Strategic Direction #2 touches on it, this strategic plan could do a better job addressing the crucial issues that will face our students as citizens. The goal of "engagement" will succeed or fail depending upon student interest and initiative. We could start with clear statements of encouragement of, and meaningful support for, a vibrant student government and an active, inquisitive student press.

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 11:43 AM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : I made a comment at the open forum meeting on campus earlier this week that perhaps needs clarification. My comment centered on the consideration to include a philanthropic or generosity of spirit characterization or quality that clearly defines us as a community of people and what I hoped might be a consistent thread woven into our strategic plan.

Perhaps this has not been considered because it is so obvious. To teach is to give of oneself to the edification of others. Our faculty, staff, students, and alumni are caring individuals who are daily engaged in activities created and maintained to give back to our community, region, nation, and the world. We go on mission trips to aid third world countries to dig wells for clean water, building of schools, addressing medical needs, and delivering humanitarian aid both at home and abroad. We give of our own finances to fund merit and need-based scholarships. We organize awareness events and fundraisers to help stop hunger, protect those who are oppressed, advocate for those struggling with personal financial, social, psychological, or physical challenges.

As we work to strengthen the educational mission of WCU, we are simultaneously engaged daily in caring for the members of our society, both on campus and off. Whether or not all of us are religious or spiritual practitioners, it is apparent that we embody a philanthropic or generosity of spirit quality that identifies us as a community. As we set goals and objectives, I would like to hope that we set philanthropic goals as well. As educators, do we not bear the responsibility to educate our students and the community at large to be good citizens and good stewards of our resources? Does that not require a moral compass? Does that not lend itself to teaching students and the greater community the importance of moral behavior, philanthropy, and the value of Anne Herbert’s quote, “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty?”

John Bunyan wrote in Pilgrims Progress, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” I not only believe we are “living today” because of the joy we get from giving to others, but I feel it is this character, more than any other, that defines us as a community. I would hope that this obvious generosity of spirit both accurately characterizes us as a community and is exemplified in the manner in which we conduct ourselves in planning and articulating our most important strategic planning process and final written document.

As one gentleman in the room suggested, (paraphrased) “what will folks say about us as a community in 2021?” I hope that what defines our goals and objectives as an educational institution and community is one of “generosity of spirit.” Consider W. Clement Stone’s three keys to success: “activity knowledge, know how, and inspiration to action.” Beyond our intellect and our ability to teach its application, should we not include the philanthropic qualities we possess that provide inspiration for the delivery of our mission?

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 10:13 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I recommend a look at our organizational structures be part of Strategic Direction 1 / Goal 4 - add initiative and SD 1 / Goal 12 - add initiative. It could also be included under SD 5 with and added Goal (p 7). It could be the same wording. I do not believe we will have the same organizational structures if we realize the potential of this vision and some reference is needed. Thank you Commission members for you hard work and dedication.

Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 4:20 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I would like to thank the committee for their work on the 2020 Strategic Plan. It took a lot of time to fashion this document and your efforts are admirable.

In reading the document I would like to point out a few things. We cannot be teaching students about the "regional" community without addressing the larger "national" and "international" communities of which we are a part. I realize that for the last 15 years, WCU has not been closely connected to its region and we need to foster this relationship. However, by only mentioning the WCU or regional community in various goal statements, eclipses the influence and support that our international partners and international alumni can and could provide WCU.

Also, various colleges and departments are already emphasizing international issues and experiences in their curriculums and with their students. One that I would like to mention is the WCU College of Education, which has been participating for three years in a state-wide endeavor to internationalize teacher education (beyond learning a second language) because lawmakers and businesses complained in a 2009 Summit that our B-12 students are unaware of global issues. Our future teachers are the key to remedying this situation and the 16-state Colleges/Schools of Education have joined with international offices in a larger committee to initiate change across NC for teacher education programs. Where are these endeavors mentioned in the 2020 strategic plan?

Yes, we need to teach students how to connect to the region, not because they will get jobs in Jackson or Haywood Counties, but because they will know how to connect to and value the regions where they are employed. But to be realistic, these regions are not in Jackson County but in the larger North Carolina, the United States, and the world. We cannot promote provincialism in this era of globalization.

Chair, International Programs Advisory Council and Director, International Programs & Services

Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 2:46 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : GOAL 1.4: Prioritize all undergraduate and graduate programs by quality, regional need, and alignment with focused curricular areas as identified by the 2020 Commission: Arts & Culture, Education, the Environment, Healthcare & Wellbeing, Recreation & Tourism, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Touches on every college except the college of business. Given the need for economic development in the region, this seems like it misses a major component of UNC Tomorrow (4.4)

Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 2:39 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : GOAL 1.7: Establish WCU as a hub for innovation, connecting academic programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with regional industries and organizations.

Key initiatives: ... businesses to develop commercial applications of innovations.

If the goal is to connect with business and innovation, it should include entrepreneurship and not just STEM.

Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 3:59 PM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Not enough emphasis on Biltmore Park as a CAMPUS (rather than just a building), would like to see the Asheville campus as a priority for infrastructure and resource allocation particularly as it is just getting off the ground. Without resource allocation for marketing, promotion, and support staff (there is currently NO staff allocation for the Asheville Programs department in the new location) we miss the opportunity we are being given. Continuing education opportunities and community engagement activities (conferences, etc) should also focus on the new Asheville location as a way to earn funding for the new location.

Would like to see programs, particularly graduate programs, see funding based on enrollment, even if this requires differential tuition that comes back to the program.

The faculty/staff vignette really reads as a faculty member and not staff - for example, as a staff member there are very limited opportunities for advancement especially since more staff positions are being eliminated or reduced when they are reopened. The student vignette does not take graduate students, online students, or Asheville campus students into consideration.

Goal 4 should take into consideration that many times our actual job tasks do not meet our job descriptions, and that performance management does not line up with job description categories to really show how we have achieved the goals of our jobs. Professional development for staff is great, but cannot be appropriately supported without the option of flexible scheduling. Otherwise, staff will have to take vacation time or leave without pay to pursue many professional development opportunities, rather than simply making up the hours elsewhere. I noticed there seem to be very few 'regular' staff (non-leadership, SPA positions) on the committee or any of the subcommittees, and yet the plan calls on additional opportunities for staff to get involved on campus.

Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2012 9:21 AM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Do intramural and extramural athletic activities fall within the scope of this plan?

Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 9:48 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : Though much of the Strategic Plan seems progressive and optimistic, it appears that the plan is virtually devoid of language that would improve the university's relationships with minorities. Since the university's commitment to that goal currently does not seem to be a strong one, that should definitely be a priority for the Plan. WCU has the potential to become a welcoming environment for people of color, international students, non-Christian students, and LGBT students and faculty. I believe WCU could be an enriching environment for those students (and potential faculty members), but cannot be without a strong commitment to supporting them. This should be done through the establishment and funding of minority campus organizations (new ones, with strong leadership and campus involvement), a higher level of respect and sensitivity for all students regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation, or religion, and by taking new approaches to student outreach (including encouraging sensitivity in freshman courses).

Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 9:21 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : The current draft of the Strategic Plan embodies what a university should strive for, and what Western is capable of achieving in the next few years. Though I appreciate the entirety of the document, Strategic Directions #1 and #3 are of particular concern to me. I appreciate the first, simply because I believe that WCU is fully able to become a school that better fulfills the intellectual needs of students. However, #3 is the goal on which I would like to comment. WCU is well represented in the community, simply because the student population is involved in community activities; unfortunately, the university has fallen behind in supporting those students. The university should be investing in opportunities (i.e. the Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County, for which I have volunteered since my freshman year) for students to get involved in the community. Furthermore, it is my opinion that WCU has previously had a much too narrow definition of community, which in the future should be expanded (i.e. to even more distant counties). Overall, the strategic plan appears to represent a great step forward for WCU, which I look forward to seeing the university take!

Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 5:19 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : Goal 4.8 suggests that WCU increase the opportunities for staff engagement in university governance and operations. I am currently a CSD graduate student at WCU, but received my bachelor's degree in Interior Design from WCU in 2009. I see a valuable resource in the Interior Design Department, but the talented and informed professors are not utilized when the University undertakes building projects. Because I am a graduate student of CSD, and an interior design graduate, I asked the CSD staff some questions about the process taken to design our new building, just out of curiosity. Because of my curiosity I now know that the current architects/designers of the new health center did not follow the protocols of professional design for properly programming the interior design of the Speech and Hearing Clinic. In other words, the users of the space were not thoroughly and properly consulted on how they use the space before design began. This is not to say that the new space is bad. I just feel if outside contracted professionals do not have time for this element of the design process, then the interior design professionals WCU employs could have conducted this part of the research ahead of time for the new building and passed it on to the contracted architects to assist them in making logical adjustments to the design. This would have provided an invaluable service to both the CSD department and the designers of the new building. I admire the expertise of WCU faculty, including those in the Interior Design department and hope to see them actively recruited to help in fulfilling your goals. This comment's point is to give an example of one way I feel this can happen. Thank you for your work on the initiative!

Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 9:51 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I've read the executive summary and skimmed the full report. That means there may be details and ideas that I have missed that would make these thought less relevant but let me share my first review of the report's thoughts anyhow.

I'm excited by the commitment to STEM developments. I see that the word economic is used 25 times in the full report, a suitable slant, yet I find a couple of areas that would strengthen this planning. Though STEM is referenced in an important strategic way, I find the idea of the Arts applied strategically beyond attending arts events, is notably absent. Though STEM and economic concerns are highly relevant, there is an absence of attention to missions/initiatives that get at the heart of job creation, and that is entrepreneurship (a term mentioned once). If you look at Richard Florida's work on the Rise of the Creative Class and on economically powerful regions, the arts are an important part of the economic equation. I don't think it is just for the music and show time venues. Rather, the evidence implies that creating a climate where creativity and employment grow well means that STEM and the Arts needs to be combined in our thinking in a way that also integrates with a related Entrepreneurial spirit. Further, as much of today's new wealth creation is from companies creating with software, its creators can sit anywhere and sell to anywhere, making any idea of the mountains as barriers to trade irrelevant. What other products can this region produce that can also be beamed in and out just as easily? The key to such creativity is high levels of interaction with a creative climate, a need that the Net can handily provide.

Recognizing that one ongoing product of our mountains is its steamy blue character in the summer time; planners might consider a parallel development, raising the visibility of the Arts by putting an A in STEM – STEAM and raising the value of Entrepreneurship by adding on an E.

STEAM_E. It would be quite the mark of distinction to be known as this kind of STEAM_E university.

Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 9:42 PM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : I am also a current graduate student and grad assistant (WCU employee). I did not see anything, much less the top priority which should be given to parking. Consider a model such as Maslow's hierarchy. Parking is a lower level or basic need for many college students. If WCU cannot meet the student’s basic transportation needs then students are expending time and energy solving these continuous and aggravating problems robbing higher level functions, such as learning. It seems this project mainly focuses on higher level functions, ignoring lower level needs. Work from the bottom up, making sure that needs are satisfied on all levels fairly equally.

Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 7:14 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : What a fantastic plan. I am truly happy to have played a small part in its formation. It is enlightening to see the overall draft.

I do have a few comments: There is a lot of great discussion about academic programs and prioritization of programs that might bring about sustainability, economic development, promoting tourism, and about how Western can impact and serve the region. I am really happy to see environment, sustainability, and tourism prioritized but it is very important to note the importance in our curriculum of the role of the public sector and nonprofit sectors in what is an integral part of community development, economic development, and planning. We already have a history of producing graduates that become city managers, government officials, and nonprofit leaders that do the very things that are in this plan. Our alums serve at places like the Land of Sky Council, the Southwestern Commission, planning departments, local governments, and as leaders of service and advocacy related non profits. Economic development, plans for tourism, and plans for building vibrant commmunities are not done without public servants and those skilled in public policy. Our current generation of public servants is retiring and there is a huge succession problem that is discussed at conferences around the state of public and nonprofit sector leaders. The retiring generation of public sector leaders is also largely white and male. The brain drain of competent public administrators and planners has always been a problem in Appalachia. We do not educate enough people and we do not find ways to attract and keep them. While MPA, planning, and MSW programs have filled this void around the state, we need to do much more now or any policy efforts directed at sustainable growth, community development, and promotion of tourism (as examples) will be done haphazardly, without effective leadership, and without effective public/private sector collaborations that can form effective policies.

Economic development occurs in collaborations and partnerships of public sector, nonprofit leaders, business leaders, and citizens. Our 2020 plan focuses well in the third section on building community ties, but we must also educate future public servants committed to improving our region in a thoughtful, planned, and participatory way. To do this, WCU needs to continue its efforts at civic engagements and service learning, but it needs much more than that. We must commit to training effective public and non-profit leaders. This commitment, dedicated to service, needs to be in our plan as we strive to train a diverse, forward thinking, skilled, and ethical generation of leaders to serve this region.

Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 3:25 PM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : pay should be based on performance ,not friendship, relationships, or family tree, it should be based on college wide pay scales, Raleigh staff should not be paid more for the same position than Cullowhee.

Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 7:08 AM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : I realize that food on campus is contracted out and perhaps nothing can be done about prices, but the charges at the uc cafe are outrageous! I stopped in before a concert last night to purchase a small candy bar and could not believe what I was going to be charged so I promptly put it back on the shelf. Granted, I don't need to be eating candy, but it reminded me of the time two years ago when I stopped in before another concert for a coke, something that eases my headaches and was told that only Pepsi products were sold. So, not only are students not allowed choices, but in my humble opinion, they are being gouged. We all love this campus and do not want anything to taint perceptions of how students are cared for. A candy bar that costs twice what it would in a grocery store is such a little thing, but I left with a "bad taste in my mouth."

Sent: Friday, February 10, 2012 2:31 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Our strategic plan should include initiatives that strongly encourage students to participate in course- or service-related travel experiences, preferably internationally. Many of our students have not travelled much; some have barely been out of NC. A university degree should help them with this gap. Immersion in different landscapes, cultures, and socioeconomic settings can transform their world view and even shape their career goals (think QEP!). Bonding with students and faculty during this type of experience will improve the students' perception of their education's value and even bond them with WCU (think recruiting and retention!).

Faculty and staff who are willing to design and run such experiences should be rewarded and supported, with access to funds to offset student travel costs. My experience is that new travelers are more willing to go in a group than on their own, and for a short time rather than a whole semester. Study abroad programs are currently emphasized at WCU, and are probably better suited for those that have traveled more (or whose parents have).

Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 12:59 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : As an administrator, one of the biggest challenges in the past 3 years has been trying to keep talented staff retained. Over the last 3 years, staff who hit and achieve success, or unit goals, in an exceedingly good and valuable way for WCU, are actually losing ground in terms of compensation. Successful units do not have many opportunities for advancement, so most likely when you lose staff, the issue is them is they desire to make more money and advance their career. Good managers can only keep them engaged and challenged in these successful ways for so long before it becomes a constant under-current of malaise. 3 years of no COLA has also removed any illusion of advancement on the salary front. I have worked in public sector administration most of my adult life, and know that there are ways to incentivize and keep very talented staff, even financially. Merit often goes unrewarded, and where due, should be built into budgets and systems to further the mission of WCU. While it is true that having a job in this economy is better than not having one, for intelligent staff members it is not enough to just say "be glad you have a job". Fear does not work well in public institutions, especially if you want quality and excellence. It also had negative consequences to the campus community, and I think we saw plenty of proof of that with the previous administration. It is true that involved and engaging quality management that is meaningful to people and their needs can go a long way to creating a personable and successful unit. Investing in excellence does insure future success, especially if one has a longer term future focus.

Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 7:55 AM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Please do not leave athletics out of the process.

Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:52 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : developing a WCU research agenda

  • “Research at WCU was described as disjointed with some faculty not really understanding how to maneuver the somewhat complex process” is insulting. Many faculty have well-organized research agendas with respectable productivity. The infrastructure, establishing a realistic balance with teaching time, and financial support is what makes things complex.
  • The university cannot choose topics for research. That’s a top down approach that will alienate and discourage faculty. It’s not the topics but the way in which faculty distinguish themselves in their field, the type of opportunities they offer undergraduate researchers and graduate students, and the resulting publications and grants that matter. Let the faculty individually decide that, and the reputation of WCU will follow.
  • WCU should value having viable and active research programs which involve undergraduate researchers and high-quality graduate programs. Rewarding and supporting faculty who do this will establish a “research university” culture that still prioritizes undergraduate education.

The MOST IMPORTANT way to support faculty research activities are

  • Hire well-trained, experienced staff for the grants office and related offices. Offer more money to attract the good ones. Read the results of the survey from 2010-2011!!!
  • Establish a well-funded internal funding program. Faculty choose not to write all the little grants that build to the big grants – or that address feedback for rejected proposals – b/c of the commitment to teaching. Faculty who demonstrate that they are making progress, creating peer-reviewed works, and write external grant proposals should be getting moderate funding to allow their research to continue. Eventually the first grant will come. For example, the every 7 years spacing for summer grants is ridiculous.

These attitudes will help attract and keep high-quality scholars who recognize the commitment to education, but who also want to maintain a viable research program. It will acknowledge that our teaching load is not compatible with a “major research institution”, but we value the scholarship enough to support it ourselves.

Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:49 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : CREATING THE RIGHT MIX OF ACADEMIC and RESEARCH PROGRAMS identify a few areas of academic excellence

  • We need to stay a full university. Forcing programs to mold themselves to some externally-defined area might make them less relevant in their disciplines and will not attract or retain faculty.

Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:48 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : "CREATING THE RIGHT MIX OF ACADEMIC and RESEARCH PROGRAMS Eliminate low demand programs"

  • Enrollment # is relative!! Some programs are small nation-wide.
  • Productivity includes a lot of things; the types of things faculty do with smaller major groups is impressive and would be lost

Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 8:31 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Thank you for collecting our voices and keep us in your decisions. I hope this is not another idea that goes up in smoke. Too many times we had initiatives that were never finished. Make some decisions and stick to them. What is your timeline for this? What are we going to do if deadlines cannot be met? There needs to be some responsibility for not achieving what we hope to achieve.

You need to do something about the morale here. Lots of people are leaving because they cannot get raises, are tired of all of the …., and there is no reason to stay in a place that it is falling apart. The faculty low morale is felt by staff and students.

Consider expanding online education. I know that it is difficult because we do not have infrastructures and money, but we need this here. Other institutions are taking our students! Why not be the first one to offer a PhD fully online (or with low residency, so we fill out the campus in the summer)? I know of several students who have families/jobs and are giving up their education because they cannot move. We offer several MA degrees here- can we also offer more PhD?
Consider offering foreign languages. Actually MAKE it a requirement for graduation. And not just the few we offer here. We want our students to understand globalization- how can they do it without knowing a foreign language? We offer many abroad trips, yet students are not required to take a basic course in languages (maybe an intensive course, like 2-3 weeks, to at least know how to say thank you or basic questions). We tell our students that abroad they represent WCU, yet, what tools do we give them to show others that we do care about globalization? We have international students here, yet we often do not understand them (language, culture and religion). To open the doors to globalization means to take care of things here first.

The campus has changed a lot in the past 10 years. New buildings, areas, and a new look. This is nice. However, think where the students go and what they do. New dorms, dining hall, FPAC and UC are all great. But we also need good facilities for music (have you seen the building where they practice?), for labs and to study (I am thinking the library).

Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 8:41 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : The gender equity study requested by the campus chapter of the American Association of University Women draws attention to a persistent problem at our university: Inequality limits advancement for women at the university and prevents equal compensation for the work that they do. Although we work with many accomplished women with excellent jobs in the upper tiers of the administration, it seems that they frequently lack the resources they need. Because they lack these resources, and are tasked with consistently increasing responsibilities, they seem to suffer the burden of many women on this campus who feel that they do the bulk of the work without the compensation or room for advancement afforded men. Rather than increasing a woman’s leadership profile on campus, these added duties actually seem to prevent her from engaging with the campus community. On the academic side of the aisle, there are few female deans or department heads. The strategic plan, therefore, should include a commitment to gender equity. This study needs to be implemented at the highest levels of the administration for a number of reasons, not least among them the realization of our place within a global culture: The United Nations adopted women’s equality and empowerment as a millennium project goal because educated and valued women create better, safer communities. More to our purpose here, though, is the advice offered by the UN’s development fund for solving a culture of inequity: gender equality should include “…intentional measures to incorporate a gender perspective in planning and budgeting frameworks and concrete investment in addressing gender gaps.” In an October 9, 2011, New York Times article, Phyllis Korkki concurs; sexism that prevents women from achieving senior positions is entrenched and largely unconscious. As a result, Korkki writes, managers must be held “accountable for promoting women and actively measuring their progress.”

At the institutional level this kind of commitment would do much to change the culture of the University, a culture that permits a kind of good-old-boy sexism in which a generation of older men easily ignores the input of up-and-coming young women (with threatening degrees and scholarship). There is a generation of younger men here as well who think that adding “Ooops, that was probably inappropriate” to inappropriate remarks serves as an ironic and humorous disclaimer. The recent sexual harassment training had all of the earmarks of a cursory fix. Since I’ve never had this kind of training here before, I rather cynically assumed there was some oversight that needed to be immediately addressed. The taped reading of the federal guidelines was so tedious that it seemed almost insulting, as if no one could find a woman on campus and ask her what kind of issues plague her on a daily basis. I could easily run through a similar scenario as the one described above on the problems with the lack of diversity on campus, from a feeling of intolerance towards non-Christians to stories of discrimination against people of color, people with foreign accents, etc. But I would still draw this conclusion: I think proper training is important, and increased training at all levels and for a variety of reasons is one practice that I want to encourage the committee to fund, when it starts to apply the goals and values decided on by the Commission.

In July 2011, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an issue on “The Academic Workplace,” offering an analysis of successful academic workplaces. This is an interesting section, which I’ve attached. The successful university takes responsibility for the professional development of its faculty and staff. At the junior level, mentoring is increasingly important—not just at an early workshop but consistently—and training mentors is important as well (training them in diversity and equality issues at this institution is key). Duke University, for example, funds professional staff development institutes on management, supervisor-employee relationships, etc. We might think about funding workshops for local communities as well, or at least sponsoring them. There are some horrible stories about students of color receiving less than a warm welcome at area stores. At more senior levels, workshops about making the transition to full professor; training for new administrators, and training for those who might want to be administrators; and, management training for department heads could shift the culture of the institution radically and remind individuals of best practices.

Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 9:35 AM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : The parking is awful and needs to be addressed!

Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2012 1:36 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I thank the committee for their efforts on drafting a new strategic plan for WCU. I have a few comments that I beg the committee to consider as they continue drafting the plan:

The new WCU mission statement ostensibly omits mention of the global or international dimension of the WCU curriculum, which the current mission contains.

Surely the committee knows that the UNC system recently appointed a vice-president with responsibility to provide increased global connections for the UNC the system through educational activities. This person is seeking to establish not just economic but academic relationships with institutions in China, Taiwan, India and Africa. The UNC council on international programs, with a representative Senior International Officer (SIO) from each institution, has been working on internationalizing teacher education with Education deans at the 17 state universities and recently completed a new website to recruit international students to North Carolina:

Some WCU departments and colleges know full well the importance of educating our students to be culturally aware of foreign societies and to learn about the economic, social, political, philosophical, anthropological and academic processes in those countries. If our students are not knowledgeable of these, they will not get jobs in companies that have subsidiaries and other connections in countries around the world. Additionally, students realize the importance of learning another language and WCU has experienced an increase of students studying languages in Asian and European countries in the last few years.

I agree that WCU is here to support and develop the region, but additionally, we must prepare students for jobs they will find in the state, the nation, and the world. Dr. E. Gordon Gee, President of Ohio State University, recently wrote: "For centuries, the world around us has largely been an afterthought in the education of young Americans. Today, we can reap the incomparable benefits of teaching a global perspective to the next generation of American thinkers and doers. For college and university presidents, no less than students, it is time to think bigger." I urge the committee to do the same.

Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 10:59 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Two questions that come to mind in reviewing the draft of the strategic plan:
a) with an emphasis on the state and region, how might the point about emphasizing preparedness among our student body be (1) enacted and (2) relevant? (p.s., I am in favor in preparing students to be prepared in a global political-economy)

b) with reference to garnering support and optimizing financial resources to meet the strategic vision, will Colleges have the autonomy to solicit funding without constraints by the university advancement office that may be dedicated to college-specific needs?

Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 8:51 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Support a "qualified faculty"? How about support an excellent faculty?

We can do this by providing a competitive salary structure with salary advancement and further opportunities for professional development. Currently, we are one of the least financially competitive universities (for salaries) in the UNC system. Can we strategically plan to recruit the best faculty and then strategically plan to keep them by rewarding great work in the classroom and in research?

Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2012 2:58 PM
Affiliation : Community Member

Comments : Edmonds Consulting Corporation helped to establish the partnership between the Brazilian company VSE and WCU. The idea is to foster the growth of a center of excellence in the area of gas turbines in western North Carolina. The strategic plan should include this type of methodology as the way of promoting community growth rather than general statements. A university that strives to become good at everything will result in mediocrity. WCU should define specific areas of excellence and create the supporting infrastructure to foster its growth.

Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2012 9:57 AM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : First, I would like to say that the time that I spent at WCU was wonderful and enriching to my life. I made many great friends and met my wife. The only problem that I see with the university is retention. I had many friends leave the university because they were "bored."

Boredom, simply put, runs many students away from the university. Many of the kids that I seen leave WCU were great students and an assets to the university community. They simply left because many of the comforts of home were not available at the university. To draw students from heavily populated urban environments and keep them, you need to give them the comforts of home. These comforts are mutually beneficial to the University. They will keep the retention rate higher and will create economic opportunity for the university and the surrounding community.

My suggestions:
-Create a 24 hour C store or restaurant on campus. This will also keep people off the roads late at night.
-Allow the library to be open until 2am during the week. Many times have I head students complain. "At a big college they stay open all night."
-Find a way to allow ABC sales on or near campus. This is a difficult one. It, however, can be achieved by:
-Incorporating Cullowhee. (Difficult but only incorporate certain portions of the university that have not residents that may vote. )
-Allow Sylva to incorporate certain areas where businesses may open. I’m sure that a cash strapped local city would be willing to collect more taxes and water sales.
-Or, allow Forrest Hills (incorporated small area) to annex small areas of the campus where business may be placed. This will keep people from worrying about students becoming elected to the government of Forest Hills.

Lastly, none of this can be achieved if the university does not reach out the community more. Many times I have heard people condemn the university students and staff members. I worked at the Lowes of Sylva while getting my degree. Launch a P.R. campaign to the community. It’s almost as if the university is a separate entity, divided from the community is surrounds.

WCU is a great school in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. It saddens me to hear people say “WCU stinks.” They only reason they say this is because they are "bored." Let the comforts of home in at WCU and keep the retention rate higher. Let it attract more and more people to its walls. No matter how superficial my argument may sound, we can make WCU the envy of the UNC system!! I am proud to be Catamount!

Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 9:19 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I think engineering is absolutely essential to be mentioned in educational needs.

"technology" is not the same as "engineering" which is specific and a higher level of rigor "Commit to Liberal education"? Liberal education does not mean much. Broad based education, integrated, globally aware perhaps more specific.

"assist in economic development" is a weak statement and not proactive. "be an agent of EC"? stimulate EC, transformational agent of EC. Something with more energetic. Active rather than passive.

Sent: Monday, January 09, 2012 4:26 PM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : I'm sure this is being addressed but just in case...

My suggestion is that each and every strategic planning initiative requiring financial support be honestly evaluated and prioritized for funding as some initiatives may or may not be marketable within our next fundraising capital campaign. This means there must be a solid plan in place to underwrite the cost associated with each specific initiative if they are to be included on the final draft. To safeguard the financial obligations of the university, we should either already have the money secured prior to implementation or have an iron-clad means to secure adequate funding PRIOR to inclusion on the final draft (with an additional Plan B for funding the full initiative). We can ill-afford to omit ALL "carrying costs" associated with implementation for all initiatives requiring funding.

Sent: Monday, January 09, 2012 7:55 AM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Somewhere in the document it would be nice if you would refer to military students. In your section (Fulfill the Educational Needs of the State and Region) might be a good place to put it.

Sent: Saturday, January 07, 2012 2:29 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Online education continues to grow. Touch-pad applications are changing the way we access information. WCU can increase revenue and create a regional high-tech workforce by opening an online store to market and sell digital education modules created by faculty, staff, and students.

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 7:25 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I'm concerned with how prominent the phrase "economic development" is in the proposed mission statement. The grammatical structure of the statement indicates that it is one of the three central parts of the university's mission (along with "improving individual lives" and "community development"). This seems bizarre to me. Surely the University's mission, as a *university*, is the creation and transmission of knowledge, and our primary service to the public is the dissemination of that knowledge through the publication of research and the graduation of well- and broadly-educated students. To put things in terms of economic development as centrally as this statement does is to allow the further coopting of a public good (we're a state university!) by private economic interests. Of course as tuition continues to go up, this is happening increasingly anyway, but why would we want to exacerbate the situation? Shouldn't we acknowledge that a university should exist primarily to serve the growth of knowledge rather than mammon? As written, that's not at all clear here.

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 4:36 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : The commission has quickly crafted a broad and impressive statement that capitalizes on many of the strengths of WCU (e.g. highly engaged learning and our beautiful setting). The opportunity for all members of the institution and broader community to comment reflects an important and inclusive process.

While the document is quite impressive as it stands, a reading spurred a couple of thoughts from my vantage that I believe could modestly strengthen some portions.

First, in the listing of "foundational...strategic directions," while there is reference to "excellence in teaching and learning" and also a later reference to student "research opportunities" under the "Enrich the Total Student Experience" segment, I would contend that an additional explicit inclusion of something like "scholarly and research activity" is foundational to university level education. While some may regard that as implicit in "teaching and learning," others may not. Thus a strong statement to the effect that scholarship is at the foundation of all else that faculty and students do would strengthen the "foundational" statement.

The other area that struck me as meriting strengthening was the listing of broad areas that our curricula address. It seemed that social science and policy programs were not as clearly reflected in the curricular direction of the university as they are in practice and that I hope will continue to be. There are many ways this could be summarized, but perhaps something to the effect of "understanding issues, policies, and justice within the fabric of social institutions" would clarify the contributions of disciplines such as political science, criminal justice and criminology, social work, sociology and other social science disciplines.

Thanks to the committee for timely and generally comprehensive work. Hopefully this framework will provide an opportunity for WCU to emerge from difficult times a stronger and more successful institution than ever.

Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 10:03 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I think we might consider using a broader term such as health or health and well-being insteaad of just Health care. It encompasses even more of what I see we are hoping to accomplish in our community and region.

Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 4:30 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Here's a problem that's been grating on my nerves for 15 years: Why do the women's bathrooms at WCU not include vending dispensers for feminine products? When I brought this up in the past, I was told that the dispensers malfunctioned, so they stopped using them. It's barbaric to not include these in the women's bathrooms at a public university. Is there another another university in the system that does this? I'd be surprised. The majority of the population at WCU is female and most of them don't have offices where they can store their supplies. Our students shouldn't be expected to have to plan for this by carrying a tampon with them everywhere. It's ridiculous and very insensitive to the female population!

Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 5:51 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I commend the 2020 Commission members on their hard work. It is clear that the commission has spent a lot of time listening to the community. Here are my off the top of the head comments on the various pieces of the document. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to be critical rather than to have to have been involved in all your hard work.

Vision. While I understand the commitment the university has made to the term “engagement,” those who have not had a drink of the Carnegie Kool Aid are going to need some help if this statement is going to have real meaning. The first use of engagement needs an object. Engaged with what and whom and how? The use of “engaged university” will not have inherent meaning to those unfamiliar with the jargon. Given the time the commission and the Chancellor have taken to reach out to the community, it would be a shame if the vision was unclear to them.

The vision of becoming a “national model” of student learning is ambitious. I have nothing against us being ambitious. However, I have worked on several national projects on learning in my own discipline. The fiscal, physical, and time resources required are considerable. I do not see evidence in the Strategic Directions of the kind of commitment required to become such a model. In fact, the rather rapid increase in class size over the past few years in response to budget cuts and faculty desire for increased discretionary time provides just one example of our lack of a commitment to such efforts. Since Barney Coulter’s time, there has been little sign that the university really wants to make teaching and learning a major focus. It might be a good thing to do, but it will need to be done very mindfully.

Mission. I see shades here of the old CIML (Center for the Improvement of Mountain Living for those without sufficient institutional memory) problem. People do not want to be “improved.” We need to be a resource and a stimulus, not plastic surgeons. Our core mission is to use the accumulated and accumulating knowledge (and occasional wisdom) of the university community to stimulate the intellectual development of our students and faculty and to serve our region and state.

The phrase “engaged learning opportunities” will not convey meaning to most of our external constituents and many of our internal constituents.

Core Values. It is hard to argue with these values. However, I think an important one is missing. Going back many mission statements, Western once made clear that fundamental to everything we do is scholarship (in its broadest sense). When it gets down to it, all we really have to offer the world is the disciplinary expertise of the faculty. That needs to show up in one way or another in mission, values and foundations.

Foundations. I like the idea of distinctiveness, but distinct from what and whom? We should be good stewards, but of what? Transparency and Best Practice sound like consultant jargon. Can we say what we mean?

Strategic Directions. There is some very good stuff here. I will not go into a detailed critique here since groups are going to be dealing with these in detail. However, I have two general comments.

First, there seem to be two different kinds of strategies here. One kind includes strategies we want out front for both the public and ourselves. They include “Serve (my editing) the educational needs of the state and region,” “Enrich the student experience,” and “enhance community collaboration.” The others are sausage making. They are about enhancing the operations of the university (some of the bullets under the previously mentioned strategies also fall into this category). Surely the university will need to invest in faculty and staff, invest in our core resources, and get support for our vision. But these latter activities are support strategies. They need to be stated somewhere, but I do not believe they belong as major strategic directions (rational tenure and promotion processes? C’mon man).

Second, there is a lack of specificity here. I know documents like this are generally general. But if the 2020 Commission wants to catch the attention and imagination of the university community and region, there need to be some very clear suggestions about what w are going to do in the very few years left before 2020. The best higher education consultant I ever met was the late George Keller of the University of Pennsylvania. When he came to Cullowhee (he came twice), he brought a thorough understanding of our institution and our regional needs. When he left, he gave us very specific ideas about what we could be and should be doing. Our university ignored almost all of them (to our detriment in my opinion). But we could have used most of them to make us a better institution. We need some concrete ideas about where we should go. What should we be doing with public PreK-12 education? How should we be celebrating our location? How can we assist economic development? I suppose the small groups will put some meat on the bones, but I think they should be as specific as they can be, or little is likely to come from the document.

Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 2:59 PM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Does "optimize our technology" include the increasing needs in academic technology as well as the core infrastructure needed to support technology for all campus operations, including disaster recovery?

Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 2:25 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I hope that the article in the paper about developing a football team was an exaggeration. WCU needs stronger academic programs and more service-oriented student activities. Please poll your students. I doubt that football ranks high on the list of where we need to place our emphasis.

Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 2:23 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I think that WCU has an opportunity to brand itself as the "cool" university. Our western Carolina mountains and rivers are some of the most prized and visited landscapes in America. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts more visitors than any other park in the country. Do these millions of visitors see something we are missing? I have talked to many students who are pleasantly surprised to find unsurpassed beauty and recreation to be a part of their university experience. This was an unexpected find, since the university has not promoted the region as an asset to residential life. We have a chance at “sports” that no other school can promote: kayaking, hiking, wilderness activity. There are not too many universities in the county that are situated in such a place. With new thinking, our “sense of place” can play a positive role in attracting students and retaining them.

Sent: Monday, December 19, 2011 9:38 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : The draft looks very good. I suggest adding two things.

1. Strategic Directions - Invest in Faculty and Staff - add "Competitive salaries when compared to peer institutions." It's been years since we've had raises. We're losing good faculty, in part because of that, I believe.
2. Strategic Directions - enhance community partnerships - add "Provide support to schools in our service area." I think we already do this, and it should be listed as a goal.

Sent: Saturday, December 17, 2011 1:59 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : If one of the goals for this committee is to explore cultural diversity and equal opportunity, then I think one goal should be very clear. The status of the LGBTQIA+ community on this campus is not where it should be. Transgender students in particular suffer the most due to health issues and housing issues on this campus and many other campuses throughout the country. Why don't we make WCU a better place, or even an example of what decent human beings should do for each other? Fix the housing issues and fix the healthcare to cover more transgender issues.

Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 10:34 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : Does anyone else think it's ridiculous how much money goes into athletics in comparison to education and technology? How about instead of sticking it to your students with a 17% tuition increase, the WCU administration can cut the outrageous budgeted athletic fund? As a graduating Biology major from WCU we did not go on one single field trip. But there is money for 80 football players to have a catered supper and breakfast every week rather than eat in the dining hall like the rest of us peasants. Considering that we live in such an ecologically diverse area I feel that that is a pity. Also I agree with an earlier post that mentioned how sad it is that WCU hands out full rides for athletes and leaves us students who graduated high school with 4.0+ GPA's and hours of community service a partial scholarship of only $1,000 a year. SHAME! Future prospects of WCU beware! WCU looks like a budget college, but you don't get anywhere near your $ worth in education.

Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 3:00 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : On the draft document: references to lifelong learning do not mention educational services to aging population, gerontology. Near the end, suggested partnerships with regional industries should also include partnerships with regional cultural institutions and small businesses.

Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 1:41 PM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Thank you for asking and reviewing our comments.

I believe that WCU needs to strengthen and focus on their customer service efforts. Communication is also a large part of this. Budget cuts have been in place, yes, but there are small things that we can implement here on campus to better serve not only our students, but each other with high respect. It takes too long to hear from other departments. And how am I supposed to have good service in my office, when I can't even see any missed calls on my phone? What, I have to pay $1000 out of my department funds to purchase a current phone? Even this $600 I have in my office barely has a call log.

Collaboration between departments. Are people really wanting to collaborate w/ the students in mind? Do people really know what Collaboration means??

Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 12:09 PM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : I think,
"Fulfill the Educational Needs of the State and Region"
should say
"Fulfill the Educational Needs of the Region and State"

Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 11:55 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Most of this strategic vision is generic and so broadly constructed that I am not sure how it really helps WCU plan for the future. It is not very forward-looking but resembles things we already do. I anticipate better versions of the strategic vision as the WCU community reads this draft and starts thinking about what we want to be.

Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 10:35 PM
Affiliation : Other

Comments : Do you guys have an ROTC Program, if so what branch? If not, may I ask why?

Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 8:47 AM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Just a few things which struck me about what the 2020 Commission has shared in draft form thus far:
1. I didn’t see economic/community development and yet see that as a pretty fundamental raison d’etre for WCU. There may be thinking that this is such an overarching part of our mission that it encompasses a lot of the details which are emerging. Just curious.

2. I had a thought (maybe a bad one) that we use as a filter the elimination of the things the university is going to do anyway – regardless of whether or not it appears in the strategic plan. There may be value in not filtering for that this go around inasmuch as people need to see some of these things as valued and concrete commitments at WCU.

3. The inclusion of “revitalization of communities” puzzles, concerns, and pleases me all at the same time. First, I do think the university has a role to play. Second, though, we can’t launch a Dillsboro-type undertaking for every WNC town that needs bolstering; too, I worry that the university is seen as THE savior for communities when that can’t be the case – people have to own their own towns’ situations and revitalization. Finally, how will we determine which towns need revitalizing and which not? Don’t mean to discourage this thinking, but it did furrow my brows – maybe there are some broad things we can do as a resource for multiple communities.

4. Absence of diversity.

Of course, there was much that was very good about the doc – I’m just listing the items here which are question marks for me.

Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 10:28 AM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : First let me say that since the arrival of our new Chancellor and his wife, I have received/heard more positive comments about WCU in the community in general. Thank you Chancellor and Mrs. Belcher for your efforts on WCU's behalf!

Many of us hope that the Strategic Planning Committee will guide WCU in correcting several existing issues and/or inequities on campus.

WCU pays a large sum of money for 15,000 UG applications. We admit 5,000 (1/3) of those applicants and we see 1,500 (1/9) of those total applicants enroll. Considering the fee, the salaries, and the supplies and other administrative costs it takes to process 15,000 applications, is this a good return on our money and efforts?

When WCU committed to Career Banding a few years ago, the SPA staff categories were given various priorities and then banded in phases. The IT and Health and Safety personnel were given the highest priority and also given the largest percentage increase in salary towards what they should be earning.

Since the majority of available funds were spent in the highest priority class, the remaining categories of personnel were banded and given a token increase towards what they should be earning. The personnel in the lower priorities of career banding need to have the salary inequity corrected by more funds being dedicated for and given to those lower priority classes.

What represents WCU to the community? We have a "swish." (Who identifies with a swish?) We have a catamount. We also have cat eyes. The most memorable of the three is the cat eyes but we don't use them very often.

WCU must be consistent in its publications to help us build recognition. We need to have our three letter insignia, WCU, present in our advertising so that it's seen and recognized even at 60+ mph on the highway.

WCU needs to have a presence in the local towns. How many WCU anything do you see in Sylva, Webster, Dillsboro? Visitors to our area may not even realize we have a university just down the road.

We need to update A&F and HR business processes and then publish them.

Sent: Friday, December 09, 2011 3:53 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : As a student at Western Carolina University one of the many problems of the campus lies in its structure of priorities. As a student at WCU I could care less about the football team. The only thing that they are good for is saying that WCU has a team. I would suggest cutting the program and focusing more on academics. Use the money for something that matters in the future. Promote research opportunities and ways to set WCU apart from other campuses. I would suggest keeping the basketball team because they are consistently decent and provide a good experience for students. Ways the football program lacks is..

1. Football tailgating is a joke. Having ridiculous police enforcement destroys the atmosphere and promotes nothing but police bullying.
2. Tailgating should be all day, regardless of whether we win or lose, we can socialize with alumni and bond with our fellow classmates.

Allowing alcohol sales in Cullowhee is a no brainer. I would love to see businesses come into WCU's community and provide the students with a place to relax with one another.

My hopeful goals for WCU are to see an increase in qualifications for admittance and see more research.

Sent: Friday, December 09, 2011 11:16 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : University strategic support for graduate education at WCU has got to be a high priority sooner than later! Dollars for providing the financial support of our adult community and international students has been eroding since 2003. WCU is losing twenty-five to thirty top applicants each year because the a lack of fellowship award dollars (need and merit-based)and competitive assistantship stipends, remissions and other attractive benefits (health insurance, Graduate Assistant parking, office space and venues to conduct their important work). Many of our graduate students are community leaders and important contributors and entrepreneurs in the state of North Carolina. What better investment can Western make than to invest in those who are, at present, or will become tomorrow's innovators and creative artists.

Sent: Friday, December 09, 2011 11:04 AM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Faculty and student research has got to move from "silos" to collaborative interdisciplinary, inter-institutional applied research designed to solve the regions "big problems" that would have implications for global application. No longer can faculty focus on individual funding initiatives that are not sustainable and mission-focused. Sponsored research on campus should target grants (not limited contracts that are not mission-related) that will provide the money to sustain and grow mission-focused (Health Sciences, Environment/Biodiversity, Arts, Tourism to name a few) research. Indirect monies generated by grant awards should be distributed to faculty and staff generating the awards and units supporting grant development and administration.

Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2011 3:32 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I recently viewed Chancellor Belcher's interview with Chan. 62. As always I was impressed by his comments and his commitment to providing a high quality educational experience for WCU students. I did find his comments on Athletics to be either disingenuous, unthoughtful, or misinformed. Sure, big time athletics is a tradition at WCU and across the nation. However, it is a relic of a different era in US higher education history. It dates to a time where we could provide top level academic labs and programs AND provide gladiators for the entertainment of our students. Now we cannot afford to do all this, and choices have to be made. Our gladiators are often emerging from our institutions in worse shape than they entered, not as academically enriched as their classmates, and in sports like football, with bodies and brains that are damaged. Is there any part of our institution where university personnel could intentionally create environments which endanger students emotionally, cognitively, and physically? Where is the IRB that oversees athletics?

In sum, we cannot be all things to all people. We have to make choices. We need academic leaders with the courage to resist the siren call of big athletics.

Sent: Monday, December 05, 2011 6:07 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : This place should not be a dry town. If this school is ever going to be something, they need to create a realistic lifestyle, people get bored very easily.

Sent: Friday, December 02, 2011 10:36 AM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : I suggest, in conjunction with our nursing and health care programs, we start the process with the Board of Trustees, BOD etc., towards establishing a Physicians Assistants degree program. PA's, are a very significant part of the health services rendered in especially rural areas of Western North Carolina, NE Georgia, and South Carolina.

Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2011 11:56 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : we need a major effort, involving all of the faculty, to increase the general awareness of just where we are. We are in the heart of Cherokee country. Someone somewhere along the line decided that Cullowhee means Land of the Lillies. That is sheer nonsense. Cullowhee comes from the Cherokee word Jul'calla whee, meaning the place of the slant-eyed giant. We need to destroy that sign on Old Cullowhee Road with the Lillies definition on it. We need to emphasize the fact that our campus is sitting on top of an old Cherokee town.

Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2011 11:30 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : We need to find ways to increase Cherokee enrollment at WCU and to improve WCU's image on the Qualla Boundary. One way to do both of those things at the same time would be to have a Cherokee Studies building on campus. That would be a strong signal to the Cherokees that WCU cares about Cherokees and Cherokee Studies. It will be said that we do not have sufficient Cherokee Studies enrollment to justify such a thing, but I believe that it is like the ball field in Field of Dreams. Build it and they will come. We need a building to house all Cherokee Studies faculty offices, provide classroom space, a lounge and a library. Such a thing will not only attract the Cherokee students but will also attract other Indian students from around: Seminoles, perhaps even Mohawks from up north and others. Indians are attracted to a place that proves its interest in them. We need to make the first move.

Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 6:39 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : The high cost of the athletic teams is a burden. $344 per semester just so a bunch of athletes with no relation to my academic studies can play? If they really want to play so much, they can fund the trips themselves, and not through a mandatory fee tacked on to every student's bill.

Honestly, think about how many students there are, then think about how many actually go to the baseball, track and field, or golf games.

This is a university, for academic development, not a place for developing athletic prowess. If the students want to do that it's fine, but I don't want to have to pay for it.

Thank you for your time.

Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 7:10 AM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : 1. Create a list of the many things WCU already does for the community. This could serve as a jumping off place for future endeavors. I will mention just a few. a.The marvelous track which I am on most days. The surface is ideal for those with any sort of arthritis. B. free concerts sponsored by the school of music. These do not receive nearly the attention they deserve. c...A gorgeous campus enhanced by the landscape staff. d. Faculty, Staff, Students who donate their time to community efforts. I'm sure a brainstorming session would create an impressive list.

Use the new health facility to contribute to community health. Monthly blood pressure screenings would be great. And much more needs to be done to educate about Alzheimer’s disease.

I expect that my next comment will fall on deaf ears, but I feel very strongly about it. WCU is positioned to take a Long hard look at the athletic program and re-orient the way athletics is integrated into the entire campus community. A balance is needed so that all athletes receive the same amount of attention and publicity. A balance is needed between athletics and all programs on campus. Athletes need to integrate into a seamless campus community, not be separate from it. Take a lesson from PA and start building something that brings pride, not just from winning, but for a comprehensive program that fosters the whole athlete. I have never understood why our athletes are put into the position of being slaughtered by teams they have no chance against. My son tells me that it is for the money. If that is true what kind of message is that sending to students? It smacks of usury.

Finally, much more attention needs to be paid to the school of Music.

I look forward to your report.

Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 5:06 PM
Affiliation : Student

Comments : I am completing my MSHR degree in December. This program has been exactly what I needed in my career and offered me all online opportunities, which other, larger, more expensive schools in North Carolina could not compare to. The staff has been incredible, the learning has directly transferred to my profession, and the overall experience has been outstanding.

I believe that programs like this bring great awareness and credibility to the university. I have personally had at least 20-30 conversations about WCU (and you'd be surprised how many in North Carolina don't know about WCU!) just in talking about the flexability and knowledge transfer of my program.

Please make sure this program gets any funding or additional headcount that might be needed now, or in the future to continue to grow! It's an awesome program for those in the HR profession!

Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2011 5:26 PM
Affiliation : Staff

Comments : As a regional institution, there are increasing opportunities to attract place-bound adults to WCU, to engage in university studies through high-quality, rigorous, evening, weekend, and online/distance programs. Even in challenging budget times we cannot forget the undergraduate and graduate, and community populations that cannot come to campus during ‘normal business hours.’ By strategically investing in alternative delivery options, including an online liberal studies or special studies adult degree completion program, (undergraduate and graduate) we would further expand our outreach response to the region we serve, impact economic development by increasing the educational levels and employability of citizens, and, most importantly bring the university to the citizens of the region and beyond.

Sent: Friday, November 18, 2011 10:42 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Notes Towards a 21st Century University:
“I feel that in the last three years of college I have not learned $30,000 worth of material. Yes, some of that falls on my shoulders but the majority doesn’t. I just hope that my college experience will lead to something better than just debt.” --WCU junior’s journal entry (3.58 cumulative GPA)

1. Academic quality is the key to institutional survival and it is the key to our students’ survival in an increasingly competitive region, country, and world. Students and parents understand that academic quality and the perceived value of the degree are essential; this is why students and parents choose one university over another, it’s why the student works 30 or 40 hours a week to stay in school or why parents take out loans they cannot afford. We owe them the highest academic quality we can attain.

2. Academic quality is achieved by focusing all university resources to support the student/faculty partnership. What distinguishes WCU from NC State or the University of Phoenix is meaningful contact with faculty members, even for the first-year student. Lose bureaucratic empires, athletic teams, or the rock concerts on the lawn before you let student/faculty partnerships erode or disappear.

3. Academic quality comes from the best possible alignment of recruitment (bring the right students), faculty (supported in teaching and professional development), advising (a function that should largely return to the faculty), student services (arrayed to support the academic enterprise, not dictate it), and assessment that focuses on what happens to our students after they graduate.

4. Academic quality requires that the institution has an academic identity in the region, state, or nation. NC State is known as the tech school. UNCG is the performing arts school. UNCW is known for marine biology and film. WCU has no academic identity now. What will it be? Given our location, we should be the kings of environmental study in all its forms (for example, art, business, education, engineering, health, literature, and philosophy.)

5. Academic quality requires institutional focus. Enhance programs that can go from good to great; disinvest in the mediocre for the sake of students who might be stuck with a mediocre degree. We cannot do everything, but what we choose to do must be done very well.

6. Academic quality requires apprenticeship opportunities for students. All students should have on-campus internships and then one or two off-campus co-ops; all of these experiences, ideally, will be related to the student’s chosen field.

7. Academic quality is enhanced by the university’s careful relationship to the region. Cullowhee, for example, should be the university’s first choice for student internship and research. The state of “Old Cullowhee” is a reflection on the state of WCU. We have no town. Let us all partner with the community on our borders and make Cullowhee a wonderful place in which to play, work, and live. Let us, too, not forget how much we have to learn from such diverse destinations as Cherokee, Dillsboro, Highlands, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

8. Academic quality demands our better understanding of the world. Our students face a global race for intellectual capital unheard of even a decade ago. We must change our curricula and enhance our Modern Foreign Language Department so our students will acquire second language skills. Our students fear to go abroad because most of them know only English. How will they compete in a world of college graduates who speak two or more languages and who routinely travel from one country to another?

9. Academic quality means no longer succumbing to the old Myths of Athletics. Nationally, almost all athletic programs lose money. The few programs that do make money attract horrific scandals. Every private dollar desperately raised to keep the athletic enterprise afloat is a dollar diverted from the academic enterprise. Students pay high fees to support a program most of them have little interest in (check student attendance at all games and football attendance after the band is done playing; check the pressure to tailgate from alumni, even when the game is on). Almost all of the full-ride scholarships at WCU go to athletes, while our top students (read: 4.0 GPAs) receive partial scholarships or nothing at all. In China and India, where top systems of higher education are being created, money is not pouring into team sports or football scoreboards—overseas, they are pouring money into classrooms, technology, and world-class faculty.

10. Academic quality requires that we provide more real leadership opportunities for our students. We speak of the student-centered classroom. Now is the time for the student-centered administration. Give students more power to make real decisions about their campus—this is where meaningful Purple Pride will come from. When students have ideas, let them try them out. It’s time to end the Culture of No on this campus.

11. Academic quality demands that the campus is the best place in society for free speech and the free exchange of ideas, allowing opportunities for active critical thinking. Students and faculty should have the right to put up a banner or poster on campus without asking a bureaucrat for permission. How can students learn anything about civil discourse on an artificially antiseptic campus? Let us allow a real student newspaper (investigative journalism?) and college radio station (time to end 1970s hairband music?). Let us be a place for diverse ideas and intelligent expression.

We are dream-makers or breakers—the students who do the work and graduate need us to guide them to real achievement in careers and graduate school.

Friday, November 11, 2011 3:14 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I offer three suggestions. First, the university needs a proper, recurring budget. With excessive reliance on one-time funding that often appears at the last minute, planning is very difficult which can lead to "knee jerk" decisions that sometimes end up costing more money in the long run. Departments need to know from year to year approximately how much money they have to spend. While this amount may fluctuate it is still better than not knowing how much, if any, funds one will have to work with each year.

Second, plan to provide proper library support. My department lacks adequate journals to support our curriculum. Recent cuts have worsened the situation. Wireless access in the library is so bad that I often avoid working there. There is little point in spending millions of dollars on online library materials if the infrastructure to access and use these resources is inadequate.

Finally, look at our core mission in light of regional needs and focus our efforts where they will do the most good. Rather than duplicate programs across campuses let's work to build those programs that will directly benefit the area. This will result in success for our students and should generate community support for WCU.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 11:51 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Remember that WCU is first of all a *university* (not just a trade school), and as such our first goal should be to produce genuinely well-educated and well-rounded students, rather than narrowly focused individuals who have done all their work in preparation for a specific vocation (which they may only end up in for 3 or 4 years anyway, given current economic realities)! Too many majors are now requiring *far* too many courses, far in excess of even the most generous interpretation of accreditation standards in their fields, and that excess is now threatening to eat into the core curriculum. If we are simply preparing students for a particular job, without providing them with the kinds of skills and knowledge (from the traditional core arts and sciences) that will allow them to succeed in a variety of vocational contexts and are, moreover, essential to informed future leaders of their communities, then we are not really a university, we're just a technical or trade school, and we should be honest about that fact. By contrast, if we aspire to be a stronger institution that produces genuinely critical-thinking citizen leaders in whatever field they're in (as opposed to worker-bees), we should be requiring *more* from our liberal studies program, not contemplating cutting it further.

Friday, November 04, 2011 7:25 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I very much hope that the Commission will work to address issues of salary inequity, both within our institution and with regard to our peer institutions and the UNC system.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011 4:12 PM
Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Offer more teaching scholarships for science and math.

We are getting farther and farther behind the rest of the developed world.

Monday, October 31, 2011 10:19 AM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I teach in the School of Music. Some priorities I would like to see considered in the Strategic Plan for the future are:

1) More scholarship funds to attract the best students.
2) The development of a strings program to allow our students to gain experience in an orchestral setting.
3) A new building for the School of Music, with ample and well-suited spaces for teaching and performing.

With regard to 1 and 2 above: each year, I lose highly talented recruits because of our lack of scholarship funds compared to other institutions and/or our lack of orchestral playing opportunities.

Friday, October 28, 2011 4:23 PM
Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Please consider the importance of maintaining and upgrading our IT infrastructure as we move forward. Also, because faculty computer refresh is now in the hands of the colleges, there is great inequity across campus. Some faculty are working on 6 year old computers. Please centralize this in IT and get the campus on a refresh cycle.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : I love the University-wide focus on the poverty project. I think having a unifying theme for the campus that can engage students, as well as faculty, staff, and potentially community folks, is a great idea! Perhaps each campaign can last a year or two. I could see focusing on literacy, democracy and voting, sustainability, affordable and quality health care, etc. I think that retention of students and employees could be improved by providing this avenue for meaningful volunteerism, dialog and learning.

Affiliation : Student

Comments : It is a shame that the chancellor and others in the administration of the school feel there is no need to publish an email address that they can be reached at.

Affiliation : Student Comments : I am a senior in anthropology and wanted to take a moment to say what a shame it is that a graduate program has yet to be developed in the discipline. There are news articles that declare that a graduate program would be developed by 2007 or so. Anthropology might not have the largest student enrollment on the campus, but at 150+ students the anthropology department is probably not the smallest either. A good number of these students are within the forensic anthropology concentration and have literally come from all over the country. That is because they have access to a research facility that to date is only available at 3 other universities. The faculty within the forensic anthropology concentration are not only proven educators, but are also either board certified or aspire to be board certified in the field that over the course of 34 years has only granted board certification to a total of 88 individuals. I think it would be safe to say the majority of the students within the major could care less if the university had a football, basketball, or any other sports team here. We are here to get an education and unfortunately we will also have to leave and continue our education at other institutions. In doing so we leave behind valuable research capabilities that often are not available elsewhere. Furthermore, it is wrong to subsidize athletic programs on the backs of students that feel no identity related to the school through such programs.

I am a Catamount not because of the dismal sports teams, but because of the education and future that Western Carolina University has afforded me. I do feel that it is a shame that I have to move to further my education in my desired field. Especially since there is only 1 possibly 2 other schools that can say they have as qualified individuals providing instruction.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Sports are a vital part of the college experience, whether that be as an athelete or as a student/faculty/alumni fan. A successful athletic program promotes greater involvement, loyalty and support from both students, alumni and the surrounding community. WCU should consider all options to become more competitive with the programs we offer. One option may be to change the conference affiliation to the Big South. In reference to football, this would allow WCU to compete in the same football classification as it does now while perhaps offering an opportunity to be more competitive than it has been in the Southern Conference.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : There should be an ROTC program at WCU. Perhaps an Air Force ROTC program that could somehow incorporate use of a flight training program. This could be an enrollment driver as well as another scholarship avenue for students considering a military career.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : I would like to second a notion mentioned below. Students come to our campus for its academic programs, primarily. But a secondary motive for them is to find their first independent HOME. We push hard to draw people to the natural beauty of the area and its outdoor activity potential, but students from Charlotte (I'd love to see how many students we get from there, I'm sure it is high) still need the basics they get from a city. This would include public transportation, shopping, night clubs and social events that are GEARED TO YOUNG PEOPLE. Some of this is pointing at infrastructure improvements, which is proven economically to stimulate local economy. We host a Galaxy of Stars, which I think is wonderful, but they have 7 times the number of events for older generations than LMP is able to put on for college students, which outnumber fac/staff 8 to 1. Permitting alcohol would also be a step in the right direction.

Creating an environment with some of the flavors and conveniences of an urban lifestyle WON'T kill the charm of our setting. We need to get the local towns to welcome what students want and the business they bring rather than labeling them a destructive force and restricting their adventuresome nature. We should welcome art events, music venues, dance studios, bars, arcades, paintball arenas, and others by supporting their businesses and helping them ensure the entertainment and safety of our students. How many times has a local business been shut down due to one bad incident and a lot of local harassment? If WCU takes an interest in students' social lives and the businesses surrounding them, these businesses will feel like they have a community ally and work hard to meet WCU's encouragement with results.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : As Staff and Alumni, I work in a field where a diploma is just a check box on a job application. "Do you have a degree?" "Yes." "Great! What have you done with it?"

I have colleagues that spent 5 to 7 years working their way up to doing what they wanted to do right out of college because employers were too afraid to hire an inexperienced candidate.

Local businesses need help, either driving in more business or dealing with the business they have on a slim budget. I say we should loan them a hand in the form of internships to give our students valuable experience and giving our businesses assistance. Many internships result in jobs or at least connections, further guaranteeing the success of our students and our local economy.

To surmise, we need to pursue internships aggressively and make sure students leverage this experience to build a resume.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : We need to promote the beautiful location of our campus, promote how close we are to the national parks, promote we are the western most campus of the UNC system, so that we can attract those students who really want to live and experience this area of the state for four years. Alumni have been commenting; they do not want to come back to campus to see a losing football team. Maybe we need to have more family friendly events on the weekends, not just during the week. We need to find other ways to bring Alumni back to campus, if only to have a celebration of how beautiful the center of campus is now. Hopefully, this would make them feel welcomed back to the campus community again and this in return would help with donations for scholarships. We need to help promote and use the services of our Alumni businesses, and then in return they can then help with donations. Let’s face it the financial situation is not getting better anytime soon in this country and we all need to help out.

Staff employees on campus are usually treated as second rate to the faculty and administrators. The staff people are the hub of this university; we keep the faculty, administrators and the students going around in the right direction. In the past several years, because we are in bad budget times, we as staff are always the first area of employees to lose our positions. Yet, we are expected to keep everything going, by taking on extra job responsibilities, so that we can still provide the best service to the students, faculty and administrators. Which we have gladly done to support the students, but the other areas of employees on campus have not been cut equally. Several years ago we went to six colleges, which added a lot of upper management and yet these area have not been cut. Since we now have all of these interim positions, we should be looking at combing colleges and departments to cut the upper management positions. Let’s be realistic by cutting one or two upper management positions we could be saving at least 5 or 6 staff positions. There are units/departments on this campus that have around 12 employees, have large budgets and service less than 100 students. Then on the flip side we have units/departments on this campus, which have 2 employees and service 300 students with small budgets. If a program is not producing enough students/graduates, to justify the salaries of employees then, shouldn’t this program be cut back or eliminated? We keep adding degree programs, but do we ever go back and look at programs which need to be eliminated. Do we ever evaluated the degree programs, to see which programs are doing a good job retaining/graduating students and those programs who do not do a good job. How can upper management justify not looking at everything equally and I’m hoping Dr. Belcher will be looking at all of the units/departments/degree programs across campus equally.

Transportation and parking needs to be address on campus. We keep adding all of these wonderful new buildings and no new parking lots.

I‘m hoping now that we have a new Chancellor, the communication on campus will be equally communicated to all levels of employees.

I believe no matter what your affiliation is on campus; staff, faculty or administrator, it is your responsibility to promote the university, recruit students, engage students, help students and retain students for the university. We all need to make this part of our job responsibilities, because let’s face it, no students, means no job. If you are only interested in sitting in your office/classroom and collecting a pay check, then maybe you need to find another job elsewhere.

Dr. Belcher, thank you for implementing the 2020 commission and considering everyone’s opinions on campus. I want to thank the people who are serving on the 2020 committee and those people who are facilitating the meetings. I’m glad the staff opinions are finally being asked for and we are not paying a lot of money for consultants.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : First and foremost, only admit students who are capable of doing college-level work. In my 8-10 years at Western, the overall quality of student writing is, at best, "poor". If WCU does not want to do this, then the name of the University should be changed to more accurately reflect the reality---a sample name change could be: "Western Carolina Trade School". Secondly, determine what the University values and then direct precious resources to the stated values. For example, is it appropriate and/or ethical (or even legal) for students to be required to subsidize 2/3rds of the athletic department budget as part of their "student fees"? According to the NC Constitution, the state shall make every effort to ensure that higher education is affordable. Again, if the University values "entertainment" over "academics" then simply admit it, change its mission, and perhaps change its name to: "Western Carolina Entertainment Center"....Anything less is, quite frankly, an embarrassment to the very notion of higher education and the academy itself.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Focus on true community engagement.

The university has a nearly non-existent relationship with Jackson and Haywood county. We need to seriously build our ties beyond Cullowhee: Sylva, Dillsboro, Wayneville etc...

One way to improve community relationships is the radio station. Especially if WCU is granted the 95.3 frequency. With WRGC gone, Jackson county is lacking radio service. WCU is left with a golden opportunity for community at the moment- We need to meet that community need with a true local radio service.

A new station can also be a great asset for student engagement in various programs. I am not talking about free-form "college radio", but something more thoughtful, directed, and professional, but still community focused.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : OIEP numbers clearly indicate the university needs to earnestly focus on increasing diversity. Diversity as a goal should be defined broadly(ethnic, racial, gender, geography, sexuality, spirituality, etc...)

WCU should aspire to have a campus community (students and faculty/staff) that more closely resembles the demographics North Carolina or even the larger Southeast region.

To partly address this, we need to recruit more seriously in the counties east of Raleigh and Charlotte. Not only do we lack students from those counties, but by default we are missing out on diversity by not having a presence of ENC students (Western counties tend to be less diverse).

Building a community that actually "looks" like the state of NC will inherently provide a better education as students will be exposed to the diversity they will SURELY deal with in their post WCU careers.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : It appears that WCU is disengaged from the many economically struggling western North Carolina counties surrounding the University. Why do we not see students doing research or outreach work in these communities to improve the quality of life in these communities or why does the University provide grants to accomplish meaningful work in these communities rather than building the sprawling campus it now is?

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : We often hear that we "can't be all things to all people." It is past time to decide what WCU really stands for, which means we will need to make some very hard decisions about how to reallocate our resources. One strategy is to focus on our strengths, our geographic location, and on the needs of the community, however we define it. For example, we have some excellent health related programs that are also meeting the needs of the region. Other natural strengths seem to be programs that focus on the environment and outdoor recreation. Historically we are also known for producing excellent teachers.

It would also be VERY helpful to have a strong marketing department to help us to professionally market our programs and recruit good students, instead of leaving it up to individual departments.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : WCU has great disparity in salaries and compensation between faculty and staff, upper level staff and lower level staff and the national and regional levels for similar careers of staff. The "new" banding needs to be implemented throughout the university not just by the better supervisors. Supervisors need training in competent leadership and fairness.

Affiliation : Community Member

Comments : I. Intentionally region-engaging activities that can, by definition, affect the region.

A. Work with other arms of the university and local employers in aggressively marketing business internship opportunities in the region. Perhaps a two-internship requirement, with one being in WNC, can be considered.

B. Take the lead through faculty and grad students to apply a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding current and future regional trends—and solutions appropriate to WCU capabilities. This could help existing and new businesses perceive more and yet unrecognized business opportunity in the region. A result can be more and better jobs so that natives and others will have the option of living and rearing their families here, if they but had the opportunity.

1. Integration of regional and global data. Specifically, I think regional economic data factored in with more global data can be examined in light of political and government factors—and further refined with a sociological review of who’s here, what they’re like, who’s coming and what their likes are likely to do. I imagine some institutions near what was once rural Florida could help with both the structure of evaluation and what to expect.

2. Topics only a committed university might address for the long haul. For example, if the population in the six far western counties increases X% in the next 25 years, what might be the business, service, and professional needs of the new total population? How are local governments currently reacting? What will happen if newcomers are in such numbers that they clearly outnumber and dominate locals who have historically been of a different political party? How do political affiliation, age, and socio-economic levels affect the business environment? Are there proactive efforts that could be explored in a non-threatening way via a local government or local leader’s organization (kind of 21st Century WNC Tomorrow in its best days)?

Or more simply, are there now underway conditions that will cause property now used by tourist attractions to be sold because of the land value? Could that diminish public rafting in the Nantahala Gorge or the Tuckasegee River? How would such a loss affect other tourism-based businesses?

How would a 1940-level flood affect Jackson County where WCU is located?

Are there trends in the National Park Service or other venues that can increase or diminish the attractiveness of Great Smoky Mountains National Park—the most visited in the nation—that affects the regional economy?

What about the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, the largest and most rapidly growing economic engine in the region? What will its youth who begin at 18 with $250+K affect the region? If the regional economic development leaders don't understand them, they're playing a game in which they're missing half the rules and can’t see the biggest player.

How will the current, second, and third generations of Hispanic immigrants factor into the equations of business, politics, and other forms of decision-making? Note: the second generation is already here. Do business majors need to join astute construction management majors in minoring in Spanish?

Ensure that all of the Masters of Public Affairs students understand how they in government can affect business, perhaps with unintended consequences that harm their government or the businesses that provide much of its operating capital. Also, help ‘em understand the underlying reasons why business can’t be left without fetters.

Does WCU train journalists? Can you train those who are generally not the strongest in math (and I include my journalism major self!) to cover business—and government—in more accurate and insightful ways? If you think an institute is there, I know in 1980 Bank of America was talking with USC (So Cal) about how to approach that very topic.

And of course, what do teachers know about business and then convey to inquiring or at least captive minds about it? WCU trains many teachers, I understand.

Instead of a photo-simulation, can you make a society simulation? How about a Sim-WNC computer game? It could be based on data from business, sociology, state geologists (steep slopes), National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, USDA Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Macon County, psychology, utilities, local governments, health care—and of course the computer science and high tech graphic folks. Imagine aerial views of real places and such convergences as population size, age, health care costs, taxes, affordability for high school or recent college grads!

Take leaders to meet their counterparts who live in places where current trends will likely go. Alternatively, create some forum for informed dialogue with those who have firsthand experience with foreseeable issues. For example, help leaders hear what happens when there are no zoning rules in high growth areas where land prices are escalating. The same for areas that include increasingly higher numbers of persons 65+.

C. Make it Easier to Get Business Students. Work with SCC, TCC, Haywood, and AB-Tech to ensure appropriate courses leading to ease of transfer. Don’t just leave it to registrars at all institutions to work it out if this is a worthwhile endeavor.

D. Learn how the on-campus Small Business Development Center helps regionally and how the business school can collaborate further with it. Such collaborative work could include fact sheets on current and anticipated business growth areas, internship development, and assistance to small businesses by faculty and staff.

E. Do one economic development marketing activity well. My candidate is to fish where the tourist fish are. For example, we have about 200,000 people per year stop at the Smoky Mountain Hosts Welcome Center in south Macon County. More than that goes down the Nantahala Gorge. More than that comes to Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. How about creating a brochure “How to live and work here—instead of just visiting—if you mean business.” It could list business-help resources including state economic development, WCU, community colleges, Advantage West, and on-line resources.

Sure, others have bits and pieces, but I’ve never seen anyone put it together with the aim of motivating a vacationing business leader to consider how they could be in this region. I bet a smart grant writer could get a lot of this funded too. Such brochures or other media could be tailored to various homogeneous regions in WNC, perhaps using he same areas as the Host groups. Might even get this doc linked to various tourism websites, too. In 2011 maybe that’s an app for a smart phone, iPad and the like.

F. Create the leading tourism development applied research institute in the Southeast. Yes, applied. Do the research and reports. Then have conferences that help those in the tourism industry understand how to apply it for their greater success. You’ve got capable staff, students for inexpensive labor, computing power, and are surrounded by the tourists. Help tourism businesses not only improve their hospitality skills, thanks to the curriculum in place, but also apply the basics of marketing to attract and get repeat business. Terminate the institute if it doesn’t produce results that improve the local economy.

G. Besides business school and science majors, consider the potential of other areas of academic study. Here are just a few examples under the WCU umbrella:

1. PR/Communications—learn not only that these skills are used in the promotion part of the marketing mix, but also some understanding of how to make such employees more effective for the organization and how they affect the bottom line.

2. Video production—WCU student projects already meet academic requirements and some community needs. With more focus and community support, such video could be used for tourism promotion (websites & apps), historical documentation, and to bring understanding of current situations.

3. Various Environmental Majors—how growing environmental/scientific knowledge changes business standards, regulations, costs, and activities. It would be good to understand the links between scientific knowledge and public policy—and why and how businesses can be appropriately involved. Learn about the NC Chamber of Commerce, for example, and how good science doesn’t always win in business or in regulatory agencies. I think it is hard for those not directly concerned to understand how science, public concerns, and legislative action give birth to public policy that can have both intended and unintended consequences. (Welcome to the real world!)

II. Even more personal—help students become better people. College graduates exist as individuals in families, wrestling with personal finances, perhaps trying not to be part of the 50% who divorce. Is there a way to teach life skills to help them become more successful people—and thereby more focused and productive workers, making their businesses more competitive?

I’d require personal finance for every college student and if that’s not possible, at least business majors. That course would include a bit on the business of marriage, importance of volunteer services, contributions to non-profits, and even why we need citizens in the all levels of government, ranging from a local town, the Peace Corps, and the military.

Another way to look at the individual as a business unit in society is show the net contribution of a family. Example: the need for balance. If Dad works long hours, earns a lot and Mom and he get divorced, sending Bud and Sis into tailspins, did any one, including society at large, gain? If Dad overeats and dies in his peak earning years, was there a net gain? Who pays when people and their interpersonal units break down? (Well, could be an interesting thesis, book, and talk show segment!)

I guess what I’m trying to get at is the correctness of John Donne’s “no man is an island” and also interconnectedness of all knowledge. There’s so much that a few years in the grove of the academy can’t cover it all. However, my sense is that many of our young don’t understand that WCU’s various majors are organized for convenience of learning and that there are relationships between business, performing arts, environmental sciences, accounting, elementary ed, physical therapy, history, English, outdoor recreation, and nursing, etc.

Perhaps one truly dynamic teacher with an appropriate platform can cover how it all fits together, changing some students’ lives.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Strategic Plan for the School of Art and Design: To establish an Artist in Residence Program

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Please stop stating each year that this year's students are better than last (based on standardized test scores, etc.). While I am sure statements like that look great in reports within the UNC System, it is offensive to current students who see those messages and makes you believe that the institution no longer considers you good enough.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Marketing and Education
What is the first image or thought when someone mentions WCU?
Are we going to focus on educational programs? Which programs?
We should focus on the surrounding community including community colleges and high schools.
Are we going to focus on football?
We need to maximize the skills of the players, and make sure the players have positive mentors.
Are we maximizing the skills of staff?
I have a master's degree. How can I be useful other than my current position?
Moreover, I am an alumni that wants to see WCU prosper.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Embrace our location - celebrate it, don't hide it like we had to for years.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Do an all out university wide push to develop Old Cullowhee. Help from the College of Business, help from Political Science, help from the Development Office, help from the Alumni Office and EVERYONE ELSE. It could be a vibrant village down there and that would help with both recruitment and retention.

How can we say that we are the economic engine of the region when our home is in such poor shape? CuRvE is trying but a project like this needs everyone to help.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : We are wasting too much money supporting the football team. It has been explained to me that we need a football team in order to provide a venue for our marching band. I initially thought this was a joke but have heard this rational so frequently I have come to believe it is true.

For a fraction of the cost of supporting 80 football players and their attendant coaches & trainers, we could have a very good men's basketball team (10players+2coaches+bus). I feel that a winning basketball team will raise as much money from alumni as a losing football team.

Also, The football field would be an ideal place to build a new science complex in the future.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Move Base Camp Cullowhee back to Einsteins and give them visibility, a budget and resources, new vans etc. Capitalize on the outdoor recreation around here.

Imagine what kind of program we could have if it was supported like the athletics programs are!

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Outdoor recreation is a large part of the economy of Western North Carolina. Outdoor recreation jobs cannot be outsourced. We have National Parks, State Parks, Wilderness Areas on our doorstep - why wouldn't we promote this?

Outdoor recreation students love Cullowhee - they don't leave after a semester

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Western Carolina University is a comprehensive regional university that has witnessed substantial growth in size and quality in recent years. The dire current budgetary scenario obviously necessitates prioritizing future directions. As painful as it is, such scrutiny can ultimately strengthen the university. I would argue that we should not lose sight of aspiring to new academic heights, for it is the quality of academic programs that define the university. Those academic programs that are in demand and demonstrate strong commitments to academic quality should provide the foundation for planning. WCU is best known for engaged teaching and that should continue among our highest priorities. Faculty scholarship must be encouraged, supported and rewarded, particularly in a format that involves students. By focusing on academic programs that attract students we will be able to have controlled growth that will enhance our budget and populate our important liberal studies framework as well as strong major fields of study.

The negative side of the equation is that respectable and interesting areas of study may have to fall by the wayside to strengthen the university as a whole. This is being done at universities around the country as well as within other portions of both the public and private sector. Sadly, we cannot be “all things to all people” as has been frequently pointed out. We can still be exceptional, indeed increasingly so, in many diverse fields of study. It is the potential for and commitment to academic excellence that should define our future, all in the context of a unique engaged learning environment that students cannot experience at other institutions, especially the large universities. Our range of focus on exceptional programs should include undergraduate, graduate, residential and online programs. It is the commitment to excel that should be the gauge to charting our future.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : As part of our campus and state university missions is a commitment to community outreach and communication. Online tools provide unprecedented means for interaction. An online database of community questions and campus and community responses that becomes grist for course syllabi would play a huge role in raising this relationship to new levels.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I think there are five areas in which WCU should seek to have a direct role. In each of these areas I think it is important for Western to have a role in preparing students and to provide a base of expertise in disciplinary scholarship. Also, in each of these areas it makes sense for faculty members at Western to develop special expertise in applications in rural areas, although we should not overly stress ruralness because many of our students will wind up in urban and suburban areas.

Education. In addition to preparing teachers and other school personnel, WCU ought to be the go-to resource for the region’s school when they have problems they need help in solving.

Health. Gerontology and rural health services seem like naturals.

The Environment. Included here are the physical and cultural environment and perhaps recreation and tourism.

Government support. WCU should be able to help local governments operate more efficiently.

Regional economic development. All the other areas are tied to this one. I think we need to be careful on this one not to be too directive. Choosing very specific areas to emphasize can be counterproductive. The “hot” item at one point may cool off rapidly.

I have heard a lot of talk about the importance of athletics in the strategic plan. Despite the facts that: (a) I love watching collegiate athletics; (b) I believe participation in athletics can greatly enhance an undergraduate education; (c) athletic events can enhance the campus climate; (d) I know for a fact that some of Westgern's most loyal alumni are former athletes; and (e) I have attended thousands of Catamount games, I believe it is time to reconsider the role of athletics at WCU. Our students pay far too much in athletic fees. The best arguments for keeping athletics at the current level are what they do for the diversity of the student body and attracting students who want to be in the band. Unless we can find a way to privatize intercollegiate athletics, I believe they should be deemphasized at WCU.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : I recommend that we increase the emphasis on providing quality undergraduate academic programs and deemphasize graduate academic programs. I think we should keep graduate academic programs only if they can attract a sufficient number of students without offering graduate assistantships. Keeping graduate programs that depend on graduate assistantships is not a wise use of our resources for three reasons: 1) the funds used for graduate assistantships are substantial and could be used for other goals of the university, 2) the faculty teaching the graduate courses can be redirected to teaching undergraduate courses (it is my experience that faculty often spend a disproportionate amount of time and effort on their graduate program to the detriment of their undergraduate students), and 3) in a number of cases, the fields that have graduate programs that depend on graduate assistantships, already have more people with the graduate degree, then there is economic demand for (so, in these cases, the graduate students are being prepared for careers that might not exist).

Within the increased emphasis on undergraduate academic programs, I recommend that the resources be targeted towards the classroom experience. Undergraduate research and out-of-classroom experiences are useful supplements. However, I think we have been focusing too much on them, when instead ensuring the a high quality experience in the regular classes is more important. In particular, I encourage us to renew the commitment to small class size that we have moved away from over the last few years. Small class size is a key factor in a high quality learning experience.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : WCU needs to answer a fundamental question - who are we? Without the answer to that, we can't make a solid plan. Are we a well-rounded educational option for students in the western part of the state? Are we defined by sports or service to the community or international study? Are we a pre-professional school? Are we a liberal arts college? Being something to everyone dilutes our effectiveness and ability to really shine.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : WCU received a substantial gift from BB&T to evaluate the morality of capitalism. At other universities, there are many sponsored activities related to the comparison between capitalism and other social systems. It appears that the faculty at WCU, especially in some departments, is adamantly opposed to open discussion of this issue. The first recipient of the endowed chair has left the university, and no replacement is presently planned. Is WCU serious about fully abiding by the agreement that accompanied the funds?

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Pay attention to the community colleges - great source of enrollment growth without putting such pressure on gen ed curriculum. There are many great com college students who aspire to a 4-year degree - we should be an avenue for them. Chapel Hill has a program called C-STEP related to their relationships with com colleges. Perhaps we should look at that model.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : WCU, like most universities, is a mission-based organization. Our mission drives the institution. However, good business practices MUST apply if WCU is going to - not just survive - but thrive as an institution. Funding has to be directed to priority programs and programs where the students are. If program enrollment trends decline or if the number of program graduates is negligible, the institution needs to consider closing the program or at least reducing the funding for the program and reallocating resources toward thriving units. The university cannot be a life-support system for dying fields or unimaginative leadership.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : WCU must maintain a focus on its historic grounding in public education. WCU should lead in building consortial relationships among the university, the area community colleges, and the public schools in WNC to address the disconnects in preparation of students in areas such as math and literacy. It's easy to blame the public schools, but who prepares the teachers? WCU does. We have to own responsibility for poor performance to some extent. But we also have to ensure that, for example, math faculty in public schools, community colleges, and our university are all on the same page regarding expectations. This approach is not unlike the vertical team approach in advanced placement where 6th-10th grade teachers in specific subject matter are all in alignment with what students need in order to be prepared for the junior-level AP course.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Whatever strategy is chosen, it needs to be pushed down at least through ALL CRDs. WCU's engagement focus has been weakly implemented. While CRDs may count engagement, it is done at best half-heartedly.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : An active placement services component for WCU graduates would be a REQUISITE.

The folks in career development are understaffed and spread too thin to pull it off.

Become nationally distinct. Cut the bs (BS?). Require 90% placement of graduates in a related field within three (3) years of graduation or review the degree program for discontinuance.

That would solve your enrollment problem and motivate faculty!!!

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Considering the proliferation of texts and national conversations centered on: The MFA is the new MBA, I am hopeful that Western Carolina shows strong leadership toward cultivating creativity in higher education, primarily through arts education. We need global problem solvers who "think different" and break the box. An open, cultured, arts and humanities founded mindset can lead us away from the current reductionist-thinking and short-sighted pathways that are universally detrimental. Let's begin an informed renaissance, originating right here in WNC.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Make your scholarship information more open and available to upcoming freshman.. I am a grandmother raising a granddaughter and I would appreciate professional help with this. I cannot afford to pay all of her college expenses and I am not computer literate in this area. Please provide all info. to local high schools.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : We need bike pathways into and on campus that would connect with the Greenway; maybe via a bridge across Cullowhee Creek behind the Greek Village.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : I know that we had one of the best Army ROTC programs around, and it ended at WCU in 1995. My question is, could we start the process of letting the Army know that we would like to be put on a list for consideration for an ROTC program in the near future?

The advantages of having an ROTC program:

a: The economy is challenging and many outstanding High School students are strongly considering a career in the military as officers, hence encouraging the recruitment of great students to WCU.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : We should get ROTC on Western's campus.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Highly recommend a comprehensive space utilization analysis to ensure that the univ is efficiently and effectively utilizing the space it has. Probably should happen in concert with a revision to the campus master plan. Space reallocations should result. We've had a lot of new buildings built. Need to ensure that best reutilization of freed up space.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Cullowhee has got to develop the kinds of amenities around the campus that college students expect. Not having them puts WCU at a competitive disadvantage in recruitment and retention.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : The state of NC and the country as a whole are calling for a huge emphasis on producing graduates in the STEM disciplines. WCU should respond to the call. One way of focusing the university on STEM would be to combine Kimmel with the sciences and math departments, pulling the latter out of Arts and Sciences. We shouldn't be paying attention to those members of the Arts and Sciences faculty who are afraid of losing their power because they won't have as many seats on Faculty Senate - that's ridiculous if what we REALLY are focused on is responding to state priorities.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : If you want the reputation of the school to grow, if you want more money to flow in, and if you want to grow the student enrollment, you MUST have a worthy football program. It has to be competitive. It has to have consistently winning seasons. The current football program is holding the university back. Time to look at leadership changes in athletics.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : The public perception of a university is formed by many factors, but probably the most significant factor is the status of the athletic programs. The athletic programs are the most visible part of the university. A successful athletic programs breeds positive media attention, alumni giving, student involvement, and community support. We need a major change in our athletics starting with the leadership(or lack thereof) in our athletic department.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Western exists in one of the most biologically diverse places in our country and has access to the kinds of research opportunities which would be the envy of universities worldwide - Coweeta Hydrlogic Lab, Highlands Biological Station, NC Arboretum. Is Western taking advantage of these opportunities in a thoughtful way or a haphazard one? If we really are committed to serving our region, shouldn't a focus on our natural environment rise to the top of our priorities. And, we're in a terrible economic situation - can't we still accomplish our research goals through partnering with these other orgs which have resources. Grant agencies are much more interested these days in partnering institutions applying together for funding - we should take advantage of this. Is anyone taking a stab at coordination or is Western stuck in silos which we say we abhor?

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Must improve research infrastructure/take a comprehensive look at the whole research and graduate studies area to restructure for maximum benefit and research support with greatest efficiency. More positions and jobs are not necessarily the answer. Start with a clean sheet of paper and start over.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : One of the few ways WCU can increase the student population, according to the Chancellor and GA, is through distance programs. I was amazed to see there is no one specifically representing distance learning on the 20/20 Commission. I hope this oversight can be remedied. Distance education is one of the MOST important challenges for the future of WCU.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Make use of degree productivity analysis as a means to streamlining the curriculum. If a degree program doesn't produce but a handful of graduates, why should the degree program continue to exist. Maybe it should go the way of Latin allowing Western to reallocate resources toward the productive programs which can attract more students and therefore state dollars.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Expand programs in Asheville/Buncombe County/ Henderson County area - huge growing area in WCU's service area. WCU should be Greater Asheville's graduate school, but it appears spotty. What does Asheville's Chamber of Commerce envision for its future? How are WCU's grad offerings aligned with that? We need a strong Asheville presence.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : This university has to get serious about online education. It is here to stay and if we don't get on board in a serious, concerted way committed to excellence in online instruction, we're going to have our lunch eaten. Time to get with it. What happened to the strong enrollments from several years ago?

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : In the recent past, it seems that the University has moved away from the "little things" that used to be in place to make faculty and staff feel recognized and appreciated. I was SO excited when I discovered that I could bring my family to see a home football game at no charge! It was a wonderful way to recognize the people who at times go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of providing exceptional customer service. I and my family felt SO special! I hope that there are more ways and opportunities explored to let us (faculty/staff)know that we are appreciated. The once a year Faculty and Staff Appreciation event that is held at the Ramsey Center falls way short of the mark when it comes to feeling appreciated. Many vendors don't show up, the gifts run out long before the line waiting to receive them does and the meal is often limited in available choices for the entree. We are the "engine" of this university, we keep things going and everyone knows that a "car" is only as good as the "engine" that makes it run. Take care of your "engine" and your "engine" will take care of the rest!!!!

Affiliation : Community Member

Comments : Western and Jackson County share many important issues, concerns, and goals. And Jackson County is unique in the University's catchment area in that WCU is physically located here. Western's economic "health" is therefore tied to Jackson County's. For this reason the University must work closely in with Jackson County to encourage economic development in the local area.

In particular, the Cullowhee area is the geographic center of the county, but also the population center and the area showing the most population growth. Yet there are almost no economic development initiatives (besides off-campus apartments) relating to Cullowhee. The Millenial Initiative identified the need to grow public/private partnerships around the Western campus. This is important. The University has enormous resources that can be brought to bear to encourage commercial development around Cullowhee and needs to work with developers and professionals, and the county, to develop shops, restaurants, and other amenities around the campus. This will add local jobs, add to the tax base, and help WCU with recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students. A win/win.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Chancellor Belcher,
I live in Atlanta & will not be able to make it to the Waynesville forum or any of the other ones as well. For what it is worth my opinion, besides a winning season for our sports programs. Would be to lower the franchise fee for vendors who want to sell WCU merchandise. It obvious in Atlanta & sometimes around WNC that there is an apparent lack of our stuff because we have raised the bar to high to have to buy our products. I think it may help to promote our school to have more of our merchandise that people can buy in more stores and proudly wear in public at the loss of up front franchise fee that may be to high for some.

I would also recommend doing away with this corporate looking logo of the latest Catamount. It simply looks to generic & homogenized. I say we go back to a catamount that we designed because, I say we know how it should look. I think it should not be something that was designed by a marketing team in NY or somebody who does not have a sense of who, what & how we think & feel as unique group of people. I would even say respectfully that with all the changes that Dr. Bardo made, that it would be nice if we brought back the last logo for nostalgia to give a nod to our past because physically we have very little to remind us of who we are from all the new buildings.

One of the hardest things to do as an alumni group is to gather anywhere outside of Cullowhee. That is why when we come for any reason to Cullowhee. Especially a football game, that the police should be a little more respectful of that fact & NOT herd people away from socializing in the parking lots and into the game. These people who simply want to hang out after kick off are told and made to feel like criminals, they are told they have to pour their drinks out. You do not see this sort of police behavior in Athens or Atlanta GA. Gainesville FL, Tuscaloosa or Auburn AL to name a few places we have had the pleasure to travel in the last several years to watch Catamount Football games. Why on our own home turf do we have to be man handled?!? If some one is out of control & causing a disturbance then they should be treated accordingly. Yes, I know if we don't have fans in the game we can not cheer the team on and help them to have a home winning record. But we have not been putting out a winning product & we now discourage our fan base from ever wanting to return even if we have a winning team. If they are there & we happen to be winning maybe eventually they will go in but for years we have discouraged anyone from ever wanting to go to a homecoming. By using the police to force your agenda on a group even if they do not want to, is a huge mistake! Over the years we have driven people away under the auspices of it is against the law. Well a great deal of these people know from having gone to others schools that this simply is a unique situation in Cullowhee. It insults our intelligence that we are led to believe we as a fan base have a problem if we congregate after a kickoff in Cullowhee. When in fact it is obvious that Western police or whomever controlled them had a problem and thought that the solution was to stop the socializing. We went to a school that has beautiful scenery and in the fall football season, this beauty is even more apparent, which is hard to see or understand when you do not live here for any amount of time. I have lived long enough to experience that life in the south during fall is about congregating for a football game and is as much a part of the social fabric of who we are as people as say going to church on sunday. This fact can be seen all over the south on any given game day and on ESPN if you have never seen or done in person. To say we as an Alumni have a problem, is to say all those other schools around us have a problem as well and some how, we are going to be to only ones who try to change the DNA of who we are by disallowing something that was as ingrained in us as from the dawn of time..

Again, I feel when you promote one thing it may lead to bringing up another. All things are cyclical. I think our priorities have gone astray with trying to change the we are and the infrastructure of the campus and the culture. The old adage of change for change sake is bad, but change for improvement sake is good.. Some things are not so easy to manipulate, we need to encourage good behavior and reprimand bad. If we have out of control fans then we simply use our police to bring them under control not discourage and berate them for simply showing up. If we have alumni who come to support Western in Cullowhee then we should try to be as accommodating as we can and with the hope that our fan base will want to go in the game and support the team that happens to be playing, win or lose..

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : To my colleagues on the commission,

I would like to thank you for your service on this exciting and critical Commission to plan our future. While I have many thoughts about how I'd like to see our institution move forward, I would like to offer a few thoughts based on what attracted me here. I hope that they are useful in some way in this process.

One of the things that makes me proud to have joined the faculty is Western's impact on the community and it's commitment to public and community service. Emphasizing the importance of engagement and public service in our teaching, service, and research as faculty provides an important avenue that links us to our region and demonstrates the impact of our efforts to teach and serve. The Boyer Model makes us special and it makes our campus different by making engagement a part of work and culture. It also provides a lens by which we can consider who might be the best type of colleague to join us and be a part of Western. We should continue our emphasis on Boyer and assess its impact in this strategic plan.

I am proud to finally be at an institution that prides itself on engagement and i am proud to be surrounded by colleagues that value doing their work in a way that stretches the boundaries of WCU far off of our campus.

There are many institutions of the size of Western. Many pay lip service to engagement and service. Many of the institutions never strive to be much better than they are and the get lost among a long long list of colleges and universities in the United States.

Western is a leader in linking learning to engagement. Institutions come to Western to learn this model each year. And yet we could do some much more with aboyer by having it as a central part of our mission and strategic plan. Wiith all of the turn over in leadership, there is great opportunity but we could also lose this important part of us that makes us special. I would like to urge you to keep Boyer front and center in our strategic plan. Let's continue to demonstrate that we are committed to engagement and let's make greater strides in this direction.

Higher education institutions are suffering nationally from hard times. We are taking more and more cuts to our state shared budgets. I believe that we all do great work and deserve attention, but I also believe that higher education suffers from a disinterest, at times, in demonstrating our value to the world. While we believe that our value is self evident, many elected leaders and many citizens do not. We must do more to engage our communities and demonstrate our value. Our institution has adopted a model that directly addresses this problem. I hope we can continue to build on Boyer and enhance our commitment to impacting our region. Lets make it a major part of our culture.

Best and thank you for your service!

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : It is my hope that a future priority for our campus will include an update in technology and wireless access throughout campus. I teach an internet based, technology course in the Belk Building and there are not enough wireless access points in Belk for each student to gain online access. In the past, I have allowed students to leave class early so that they can spend time working on their projects at another location. However, this only increases their frustrations with learning new software if I am not there to help them navigate through trouble spots. Currently, I am bringing my class of 31 to the UC and asking them to spread out all over the building in order to gain internet access, while I float around between the 3 floors and offer assistance. This seems unfair to the students (and the faculty). I'd like to be an effective teacher, but it's impossible to do without the proper tools.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Please maintain clear and constant clear communication between administrators, deans, directors, faculty, and staff--even if it means saying "I don't know, but I'll find out and get back with you." Please be forthright, and ditch the politics. Treat one another with respect, and encourage creative solutions. Creativity and problem-solving are stifled when people are afraid of being ridiculed by their superiors, or when their ideas are greeted with silence. Poor leadership will cause good people to leave the best-paying of positions--even if it means transferring to lower-paying jobs or moving to another city or state. Respect, dignity, and creativity are the key ingredients to getting through the next several years. Thank you for listening.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : David,
I posted this a couple years ago. And advocated for thinking about it. I don’t think much of it went anywhere. Could you please share with the 2020 Commission?

Although intended for COB consideration much of it could be relevant to university strategic thinking:

ONLINE AND DISTANCE EDUCATION (Delivery of instruction online will experience substantial growth over the next several years.)
WCU Online/Distance Ed - (link no longer active; see
UNC Online -
Friday Center, Self-Paced courses -
Military education (e.g., WCU is now a designated GoArmyEd university) -

WSJ [premium brands going green, with some additional data] -
Green, Inc. Energy, Environment and the Bottom Line [From NYT] -
Cone survey on consumer perceptions of CSR -
Cone survey on consumer perceptions of environmentally responsibly products -

$650 million expansion at Harrah’s Cherokee -
“The Harrah’s Casino [Cherokee] draws another 4.5 million yearly visitors.” - (link no longer active)
[From Hotel newswire, 2008]

H&T, LEISURE, RETIREMENT, RECREATION, [S.M. Nat’l Park, NOC, other recreational opportunities]
Visitation: “More than 9 million recreational visits in 2008, which is the highest visitation of any of the 58 national parks. The second most heavily visited national park is Grand Canyon with 4.4 million visits…
Economic Impact: “The park provides an economic hub generating over $718 million a year for surrounding tourist communities. -
NC Center for Creative Retirement -
[Not researched is projected growth in regional recreational activities such as golf, skiing, rafting, hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing, etc.]

HEALTH/GERONTOLOGY – [regionally and on campus, e.g., WCU’s Health Information Administration program & new $47 million building]
North Carolina Health Careers -
“The elderly population (65 and over) will more than double [between 2000 and 2029], increasing from 969,000 in 2000 to 2.199 million by the year 2029. The very old population (85 and over) will also more than double during this time period, increasing from 105,000 in 2000 to more than 214,000 in the year 2029.” - - Last Update: May 4, 2009
Electronic Medical Records ($19 billion federal stimulus) - Wall Street Journal (article) -
Electronic patient records will force consolidation of health care (NYT article) -
Footnotes on change in population demographics; “Between April 2000 and July 2029, North Carolina's population is expected to grow by 4.723 million people (58.7 percent), reaching 12.770 million by the 2029. Roughly 65.4 percent of this growth, 3.091 million people, will be the result of net migration into the state. The rest will be due to natural increase (births minus deaths). The "White" population will grow by 3.373 million (56.0 percent). The "Other" population is projected to grow by 1.350 million people (66.8 percent). - - Last Update: May 4, 2009
“The Committee reviewed the annual fall enrollment report [2008] presented by Dr. Mabe. While growth was mixed on campuses, altogether the summed growth of the campuses was 6,633 students; from 209,059 in the fall of 2007 to 215,692 fall 2008 which was an overall growth rate of 3.2%. Minority enrollment continues to grow and is now 31.2% of the University’s enrollment where the diversity of the student is known. Of note is the growth of Hispanic students by 11.5%, but a decline in the percent of Hispanic high school graduates who enter the University. Enrollment in distance education was up 20.2%. The full report is on the Board web site [meeting materials, appendix]. (376th meeting, January 8, 2009)

Sustainability (This concern likely will be of greater importance to government and business with each passing year)
Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) - [Links to strategic planning examples incorporating sustainability considerations; PDF document]
Additional sustainability links -

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Please involve the staff on WCU in the process. THey are unlikely to join any faculty led meetings, so consider having one or two meetings that just involve staff. Also, consider online surveys (like this one) to include staff input. Many staff members like myself have many great ideas to contribute, but feel their voice gets lost amoungst the faculty.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : Offer online surveys (such as this one) to involve Alumni in the process, since they are not liking to be able to join any meeting on campus

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : "The Third Industrial Revolution" by Jeremy Rifkin. A bit new-agey in tone and language, but some interesting observations nevertheless:

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : I have attended several AAUW meetings and believe that equity from both organizational and financial perspectives is a university level priority. I believe that in order for resources to be allocated to research this topic it needs to be included as a priority in the strategic planning prcess.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Objective: Increase the number of sponsored research projects at WCU

Goal: Develop infrastructure that is needed to conduct sponsored research with limited finical resources.

Background: It is apparent that WCU wishes to increase its research profile and ultimately increase revenue from external funding. To achieve this objective, we must be prepared to compete against researchers from other institutions with well developed research infrastructure, as well as those from similar institutions as ours that see research as a way to boost scholastic status and revenue. I have recently heard presenters from NIH and NSF report that over the past several years their budgets have declined, while at the same time they have seen dramatic increases in grant submissions which has forced significant reductions in funding rates to < 10%. Among the most challenged are young/new investigators, especially those without mentors on the research team who have experience conducting sponsored research.

My understanding is that the survey conducted last year by the FSAC found that our faculty has interest in research, but has very limited experience in conducting sponsored research and identified an extreme lack of resources. Therefore, our faculty has potential desire, but our institution lacks the infrastructure needed to be successful in an extremely competitive environment. We will not be successful by just submitting more proposals. The reviewers and project managers are smart people, they want to put their money on a “sure bet”, which usually means funding projects that will have a significant impact and involve people they know are successful. Our strategic plan must include a way to develop critical research infrastructure with limited finical resources.


1. The institution needs to establish one (maybe two) broad themes to our research that has significant impact on our region and our country (maybe even globally). An example might be research on Aging, which could include faculty/students from CHHS, the STEM disciplines, education, psychology, recreation, finance, fine arts and probably several others.

2. We need to acquire a faculty member that will act as a research mentor. That person should have an established record of conducting sustained sponsored research in the area that we decide is import to us as a university. This mentor would ideally be able to continue his/her research using existing technology and include faculty from several disciplines. That person should be here for the explicit purpose of conducting research AND mentoring/facilitating other faculty on their research. The mentor should be well known by one or more of the large funding agencies and help our faculty members in personally meeting the important people they need to know and guide them to becoming more independent researchers. People like this demand high salaries, but are capable of generating, either directly or indirectly, millions of dollars in funding. (I know someone like this who brought 65 million dollars to an institution over the past 4 years…no, I don’t think this person plans on moving…but, these people exist)

3. A fair share of the indirect funds must be used to reward the faculty, their department and college, to allow them to grow their research agenda. A portion of the indirect funds must be reserved to fund pilot research across the university (a committee of researchers would need to review these proposals in order to determine which projects have the best chance of leading to larger projects).

4. We must be prepared to accommodate workloads so that faculty can conduct research. Funded projects often require 50% or more workload commitment. Many of our faculty now have increased teaching loads and have not been given any indication that will ever change. At the same time, most of the faculty is doing their own research without doctoral students or post-docs.

5. Give credit for trying. Many proposals will not be funded, especially during the growth/development period. It takes a lot of work and scholarship to prepare a proposal…regardless of outcome; we must reward the work in the TPR process…this will get the young faculty onboard and grow a culture of research!

6. Researchers should be responsible for writing grants and doing the research. Other work needs to be handled by the Office of Sponsored Research. We are hiring a new head of research, hopefully that person will develop an office that has the high level of efficiency and competency that funding agencies are demanding.

Affiliation : Other

Comments : Strategic Planning is a very time intensive and effort consuming process, at every level of participation.

Due to individuals' high levels of personal & professional time and effort invested in the process, active participants will form emotional attachments, strong opinions, and expectations.
Having served on the Campus Strategic Planning Committee and having listened to faculty & staff feedback about the reasons for their general apathy towards strategic planning, the prevailing opinion is that getting involved isn't worth the time & effort because the university will always do what the chancellor, the state, and funding limits will allow to be done -- and that nothing they might suggest ultimately matters.

They became disenchanted in the planning process because never once have they seen a return on their investment of time, effort, and emotions. The contributed ideas and plans that were important to them never materialized (no matter how myopic, broad, short term, or long term). Resultantly, they decided disengaged from WCU.

Given our present and likely continuing budgetary struggles, we should be careful to educate and manage everyone's expectations up-front. Everyone should be constantly reminded and be made aware that their wants (even if they make it into the plan) may never happen.

Similarly, we should be cautious about potentially drawing in the community and forming community expectations, only to cause the community to later become disappointed and likewise disengage from WCU.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : WCU should play a central role in stimulating economic development.

Affiliation : Community Member

Comments : I am the vice chairman of the Asheville--Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition.

The EDC has identified a handful of business clusters that show great promise for job and economic growth in the region--healthcare, advanced manufacturing, climate, arts and design, and entrepreneurship. All of these clusters incorporate large elements of knowledge and education, which is an underlying cluster woven through all the other clusters.

WCU is one of the regions most important sources of well-educated students with science, technology, engineering, math and accounting/business skills. This relationship is not always obvious to the outside world, especially prospective employers who are considering moving a business to the Asheville area and are sensitive to the availability of knowledge resources.
It is important that WCU support the entire region, but it is also a fact of modern economic life that most STEM and knowledge jobs are migrating to urban areas, consistent with the community preferences of most young knowledge workers. It would be outstanding if WCU could be more closely integrated with Asheville to provide both more opportunities for its students but also increase the visibility of WCU grads to the employers considering growth in the Asheville area.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Engagement must be a focal point of the strategic plan; WCU is an engaged regional university. The committee should define what engagement means to the university and the greater community as well as how we should support and measure the impact of such engagement.

Affiliation : Alumni

Comments : 2020 initiatives should be focused on some of the following strategies:

  • Continued focus on community leadership and increased attention to on campus events and activities that involve both multiple audience segments (students, parents, alumni, community leaders) and can bring in additional revenue and exposure for the university.
  • Introduction of alumni leadership initiatives geared towards professional development and increasing relevant professional connections between alumni.
  • Introduction of a stronger children's program to strengthen kids relationship to WCU at a younger age.
  • Continued focus on health care and other careers that will see strong increases in hiring over the next few decades.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : Western is an economic engine within this area due to the faculty and staff that live within a 30 mile radius. The value of this spending base provides a tremendous economic boost to those communities. Without even trying WCU does as the mission statement says, “enhance economic development”.

However WCU does an extremely poor job in attracting the related economic boost to the imitate area due to its lack of making its presence known in Jackson County. Millions of cars per year that pass Dillsboro on HWY 441 or 19/23/74 don't even realize they are within 10 miles of a major university. Even those cars that do drive through Sylva still don't realize they are then only 6 miles from the university. The university could provide so much more of an economic boost to the area if they would create a joint effort with the Town of Sylva. Help Sylva become excited and be portrayed as a “College Town”. If visitors saw that image in town (purple and gold banners, cat paws, catamounts, photos, banners, etc) then they would be curious about what/where WCU was and come visit and become involved in events at the Fine and Performing Arts Center, the Ramsey Center and our sports venues.

This “College Town” experience would then cause people to stay and/or come back and spend money at shops, restaurants and lodging locations thus making Western an even more powerful enhancer of economic development for the area.

With the added tourist base more jobs would be created for residents and university students both at the existing businesses and potentially new businesses. These new businesses could even be ventures that would cater to students providing them more opportunities to gather and have fun and thus improve their feeling about staying at Western, helping retention.

Seems like a win win for ALL concerned.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : WCU needs to "plant the flag" for a primary research focus on land use, the changing climate and the environmental ecology of the region. Applied research focusing on the Southern Appalachia biodiversity and ecology of the region ought to be one of the 4-5 priorities included in the 20/20 Strategic Plan.

Affiliation : Faculty

Comments : Suggestions/Rationale

1. Heavy duty, first-year service-based classes and/or nature trails or working “farm”- based learning (as the content of entire classes) – perhaps modeled after Warren Wilson College.

Benefit/Rationale: WCU has 600+ acres and other donated property assets to utilize. Many college students often cite that a ‘gap’ year of travel, military enrollment and /or labor-based work after their senior year in high school and before first year of college does wonders for their maturity and world awareness. Why not make the freshmen year more like this ‘gap’ year? Have students physically engaged with the WCU environment -perhaps even paid or credited as a health class. Paired with intellectual research- labor/service-oriented work could even generate desirable results and public $upport for these results (such as a bike trails, a dog park, organic vegetables, reclamation of old Cullowhee etc. ). This could then sustain more scholarships etc.

Having 200-300 students needed to ‘work’ the land over summer months could up the liveliness of campus in summer. Additional courses in the summer could lead to graduating in 11 semesters and thus saving costs of a 4th year of residential living.

2. Explore reinstatement of a university school

Rationale: CEAP has really maxed out this area’s rural schools for clinical observation purposes. A K-12 University school would enable greater accessibility for our students to see high quality K-12 teachers at work and increased opportunity for faculty to do research- given proximity and blanket IRB-based permission forms from attending students.

Furthermore this could augment the millennial campus concept of a joint school/city site and solve some issues with overcrowding and transportation costs within Jackson Cty K-12 schools. (If/when NCCAT might become available – this would be a great site for a K-12 university school)

3. Re-define WCU’s relationship with community colleges

Rationale: a lot of professional programs at WCU suffer from the minced espirit du corps that junior/senior level entry entails. Hybridized classes in major (especially in foundation courses) are a wave of the future because academia is recognizing the future ‘workforce’ desirability for multi-media thinking and personal collaboration.

4. Poll alumni and students about possibly replacing football with soccer. If “yes” recruit so that games are high-level, exciting and perhaps even economically self-sustaining.

Rationale: This sport is moreworldly and could still involve the marching band.

5. Solidify and maintain long-term hires of faculty/staff

GA is supposedly making 10 yrs the ‘vestment” norm with more equitable salaries. WCU will have to match this practice with existing junior Faculty and Administrators of promise. WCU also needs to create a policy of not allowing frequent ‘role switching” of personnel. The efforts of our position searches often exceed their yield in terms of service years and it is taxing when seeking definitive answers to simple questions --- to learn that Person X has become Person Y but that person Y has been reorganized to do Task Z.

6. Enable the state-based “powers that be” to understand our students’ demographic and change their matrix of judgment as per retention. Hold GA to any past exemptions (such as UNCA having no cuts tot their liberal studies status) that in fact, is not entirely true.

Rationale- WCU is a regional comprehensive. I believe dominant student profiles include: low-medium parental income, high work and no-loan ethic, need to have car/gas, perception of college based upon parents’ experience (which may have been a M-F test/textbook mastery one) and a deep connection to one’s “home place…

7. Create something novel, innovative, natural and beautiful such as Japanese Garden or a salamander garden at WCU. Involve freshmen and new students in this endeavor. Designate duties in the way the military links aptitudes to further learning and application.

Affiliation : Student

Comments : I think that the most important part of this planning process is to keep WCU having that small campus feel, unlike a lot of universities in our system. There are ways we can do this and not hinder the growth of our school. Making sure we are keeping the class size small is the most important part of this, so as the student population grows so should the number of professors. We should also make sure we are utilizing all current buildings so we do not waste money on buildings we do not really need. For example, the Graham building, a very beautiful and usable building that is just sitting there not being used. It was at one point used for both classes and living purposes and could again be used for this. Also the way our campus is moderately spread out adds to that small campus feel, so we must make sure that we are keeping our new building and structures from becoming cramped.

Affiliation : Student

Comments : I’m not even sure if this it the right thing, but if this is for suggestions on campus...Purple bus cat tram markers, the map is confusing, laminated cutouts on lawn stakes would do ( temporarily, as likely to be stolen or blow away, but better than nothing) until metal cutouts with times could be posted.

Affiliation : Student

Comments : An abundance of misspent "workforce development" monies is allocated to the NC ESC from the US DOL. I have always felt that these "workforce development" funds should be more appropriately allocated to educational institutions that actually provide the services, rather than through third-party interlopers such as the ESC. Naturally, I would appreciate your not sharing my comments with the ESC for the time being, but I would be happy to review with you available channels of funding from the US DOL though the NC ESC that should be more appropriately applied to educational institutions such as WCU.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : The strategic planning process is very thorough, comprehensive, with obviously much thought given to detail and involvement of customers and stakeholders.

I would like to suggest that the planning process also include a perspective on the "Total Systems Thinking A-B-C-D-Model" by Stephen G. Haines (2000) which explores five basic questions:

A - Where do we want to be? (i.e., our ends, outcomes, purposes, goals, wholistic vision);
B - How will we know when we get there? (i.e., the customers' needs and wants connected to a quantifiable feedback/evaluation system;
C - Where are we now? (i.e., today's issues and problems);
D - How do we get there? (i.e., close the gap between C and A in a wholistic way);and
E - What is changing in the environment that we need to consider in terms of current and future trends?

My thanks to all who are and will be involved in this strategic plan.

Affiliation : Staff

Comments : As a staff member in the Office of Undergraduate Admission, I help out in the reception area for an hour every afternoon greeting visitors and checking in students/families for the 2:00 campus tour. I have the UNIQUE opportunity to overhear conversations amongst the potential students and their families that are seated in our lobby waiting for the tour. I will paraphrase some of the comments: "Theres nowhere to shop around here" "Its a pretty area but where do people go to party before games and on the weekends?" "I don't have a car, how am I supposed to get all the way into Sylva to get to the grocery store or the drug store?"

Those are the gist of the daily comments I hear. I am also asked directly and often about the public transportation into Sylva or Asheville and have to inform people that there is no public tansportation. Here is my point. These comments illustrate why, in part, students do not stay at WCU. The community around our campus has very little to offer to students in the way of shopping, social life and fun. This surely must contribute to why we have a RETENTION problem at WCU. I try to counteract these comments by pointing out our great climate and natural beauty of the area, emphasizing outdoor sporting activities, but I predict that a good part of our students come from cities, and they need other types of entertainment. I know that students are here to learn, but after all, they are college kids and they need to have fun, too! I truly hope that Chancellor Belcher can address these issues which negatively impact RETENTION and quite possibly cause potential students to choose other universities which offer a more vibrant and entertaining college experience.

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