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Strategic Direction #1 – Academic Excellence

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

Deliver high-quality academic programs (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) designed to fulfill the educational needs of the State and region, and promote regional, economic and community development.

Initiative 1.1.1: Undertake a rigorous and inclusive process to prioritize all academic programs in alignment with the university mission based on the following criteria: Program History and Development, and Expectations of the Program; External Demand for the Program; Internal Demand for the Program; Quality of Program Inputs and Processes; Quality of Program Outcomes; Equipment, Facilities, and Other Resources;  Size, Scope, and Productivity of the Program; Revenue and Other Resources Generated by the Program; Costs and Other Expenses Associated with the Program; and Impact, Justification, and Overall Essentiality of the Program.

Initiative 1.1.2: Develop visionary academic strategic plans through an inclusive process to:
1) Position and market WCU as the cultural heart of Western North Carolina in the creative arts.
2) Fulfill WCU’s historic and continuing commitment to be the regional leader in education.
3) Assume regional leadership in the study of the environment and environmental policy.
4) Position WCU as the premier regional provider of baccalaureate and graduate education in the health professions with an emphasis on culturally sensitive, integrative, and intergenerational health care.
5) Establish WCU as a hub of innovation, facilitating interdisciplinary connections among academic programs in such disciplines as business, the sciences, engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship and external collaboration with industry, start-up companies, research institutes, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
6) Advance the recreation and tourism industries of Western North Carolina.

Fully integrate into the liberal studies program and into each major and minor at both undergraduate and graduate levels an emphasis on those core abilities expected of all WCU students: integrate information from a variety of contexts; solve complex problems; communicate effectively and responsibly; practice civic engagement; and clarify and act on purpose and values.

Initiative 1.2.1: Create and implement a new assessment plan for the revised Liberal Studies student learning outcomes.

Embed and support realization of WCU's areas of distinction: A. Cultural and environmental immersion; B. Service and outreach; and C. Experience-based learning.

Initiative 1.3.1: Expand opportunities to engage students directly with the natural landscape and cultural heritage of the campus community and the Southern Appalachian region.

Initiative 1.3.2: Increase availability and participation in service opportunities and community partnerships.

Initiative 1.3.3: Increase participation in high impact practices such as student research, project-based learning in upper-level courses, and on- and off-campus internships.

Enhance programs that include cross-curricular, applied, and international/global awareness opportunities for all students.

Initiative 1.4.1: Reduce, and where possible eliminate, bureaucratic and financial barriers to cross-curricular design, team-teaching, and international/global curricula.

Initiative 1.4.2: Expand international experiences to enhance a wider cultural/global understanding for all WCU students and enhance integration of international components into existing and new curricula.

Initiative 1.4.3 Provide international professional development opportunities to faculty.

Eliminate barriers to student access through coordinated endeavors with Birth-12 (B-12) and community college partners.

Initiative 1.5.1: Expand networks of regional advisory committees to enhance communication and collaboration among B‐12, community college, and WCU in the areas of 1) curriculum goals and transferability; 2) the benefits of higher education and the best strategies for marketing and recruiting; and 3) admissions and financial aid.

Initiative 1.5.2: Expand opportunities for WCU staff, faculty, and students to communicate with B‐12 and community college students regarding the importance and value of higher education; the affordable avenues for individuals to access and benefit from higher education; and the processes and programs at WCU.

Make WCU (the Cullowhee campus and the Biltmore Park Instructional Site) a destination for short-term, educationally based programs, activities, and events, including summer session, continuing education, camps, conferences, and personal enrichment opportunities.

Initiative 1.6.1: Expand the number of resident and distance summer session offerings for a wide variety of learners, including college level, B-12 students, and life-long learners; expand summer school enrollment by 25 percent by 2020.

Initiative 1.6.2: Assess the campus climate on expansion of camps and conferences including identifying types of appropriate programs.

Initiative 1.6.3: Develop and implement a coordinated marketing plan to promote WCU's Cullowhee campus and its programs in Asheville at Biltmore Park as conference destinations.

Refine WCU's student enrollment strategy to ensure continuing balance of access, diversity and student success, mission and sustainable revenue sources.

Initiative 1.7.1: Establish headcount targets consistent with institutional priorities.

Initiative 1.7.2: Refine and adapt the strategic enrollment plan to meet student enrollment targets including a focus on academic rigor.

Initiative 1.7.3: Increase and track student diversity, ensuring that support services are in place to enroll and meet the needs of a diverse student body that reflects state, national, and international demographic trends.

Initiative 1.7.4: Develop and implement rigorous tracking at the individual level using GradesFirst to clearly determine non-completed and reason-for-exit for each student.

Initiative 1.7.5: Develop innovative data-driven methods of monitoring and enhancing student success at the individual level.

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