Graphic by Arielle Cabrera.
Dixie State University is in the process of solidifying its vision statement and goals for the 2020-2025 strategic plan.
According to the most recent version of the vision statement, “DSU will be a premier open and inclusive comprehensive polytechnic university distinguished through an ethos of innovation and entrepreneurship and the achievement of exceptional student learning and success.”
Provost Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs, said the goal of the last strategic plan was to establish the university’s stature, while the goal for the 2020-2025 plan is to define the university.
“Now that we’ve established the foundation for a university, which is stature, what kind of university should we become going forward?” Lacourse said.
Lacourse specifically focused on the terms open, inclusive and polytechnic from the vision statement. He said most people think being open just means open admissions, being inclusive is just about having a diverse campus population, and being polytechnic means focusing on STEM programs.
“That’s sort of the common understanding about what these three terms mean; however, none of that is true,” Lacourse said. “Those are all incomplete or incorrect definitions of what we’re talking about.”
Being an open university means collaboration, transparency, sharing information and building community, specifically focusing on the desire to learn, Lacourse said. Being inclusive is about providing access, support and success for under-served students, which is something DSU wants to do on a larger scale. Being a polytechnic university means being career-oriented and integrating humanities, math and science for a student-centered approach, though it will be STEM-intensive, he said.
“The vision seeks to create a picture of where you want to be in the next few years,” said John Welty, senior associate of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities-Penson.
Welty said the vision statement fuels the mission statement, which leads into the values, then the goals and finally the strategies used to achieve the goals of the strategic plan.
“Those goals essentially seek to answer the question of: ‘What do we have to do the next five years in order to fulfill the mission and vision and values that we’ve outlined for the university?’” Welty said.
The five goals currently being drafted are:
1. Academic Distinction — Increase open and inclusive pathways to graduation.
2. Strategic Enrollment Management — Increase university enrollment through strategic, innovative and data-informed initiatives and marketing focused on affordable lifelong learning opportunities, with a special emphasis on student retention, academic success and completion.
3. Institutional Capacity and Performance — Build a culture of evidence-based performance management to optimize financial, facility, human and information technology capital to elevate capacity and effectiveness.
4. Community as University — Integrate southern Utah’s vibrant and collaborative ethos with DSU to promote community and global engagement, career preparation and civic action.
5. Faculty and Staff Life — Cultivate a healthy and thriving faculty and staff life.
Faculty also had the opportunity to comment on the subgoals associated with each goal at the strategic plan community forum on Jan. 21, and most of the comments came when talking about goals two and five.
“It’s hard to recruit and keep students and faculty of diverse backgrounds when the nearest hairdressers who know how to deal with ethnic hair are in Las Vegas, among other reasons,” said Susan Ertel, associate professor of English. “And we need to focus on properly serving the students we currently have before we start recruiting new ones. Are we growing for a reason, or just to say we’re growing?”
Similar sentiments were expressed when discussing subgoals involving 100% percent participation and positivity from faculty, though Tiffany Draper, director of new student and family programs, acknowledged the subgoals weren’t necessarily final.
“We know 100% is probably unrealistic since there are always one or two unhappy faculty members, but that’s the number we’re going with for now,” Draper said.
Lacourse said it’s OK if not all subgoals are met over the course of the 2020-2025 strategic plan.
“There’s no expectation this will all be done in five years,” Lacourse said. “This is laying the foundation for the university.”
Ertel, who edited the previous strategic plan, said the plan may seem messy now, but it will eventually be edited into one cohesive document.
Anyone can submit comments and questions about the strategic plan at strategicplanning.dixie.edu. There will be another strategic planning meeting in late March.
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