Assege HaileMariam, Ken Baker and I invite the campus community to participate in the 2011 strategic planning process. We hope to have stimulating, productive discussions that will prepare us to educate the next generation of students and help us build a sustainable future for EIU. William Weber

Making sense of the issues:
Six strategic themes

About the Process

In March and April, working in teams of two or three, the steering committee members facilitated more than 60 planning discussions with the campus community and external constituents. More than 900 people participated in the process. Summaries of the discussions are posted on the Engagement Schedule and Results page.

The steering committee members met for an all-day "sense-making" meeting on Tuesday, May 10. For each major stakeholder group (e.g., faculty, students), steering committee members gave reports on the planning engagements. The group as a whole then brainstormed on the important themes they heard <link to new page with this document>. This was followed by a group processes design to develop a set of strategic themes. Steering committee members, working in subgroups, discussed the engagement results and generated 30 possible options for our strategic themes. Steering committee members then worked to arrange these 30 theme ideas into coherent groupings. From this process, six strategic themes emerged which will form the basis of Eastern's strategic plan.

Honor Our Heritage:
Academic Excellence

Bob Augustine - Chairperson
Andy McNitt
Assege HaileMariam
John Divel
Kraig Wheeler
Mike Mulvaney

Nearly universal support for and appreciation of the academic quality at Eastern exists among students, faculty, staff and external constituents. Most respondents see small class sizes, student-faculty interactions, and integrative learning as university strengths. Some respondents stress the importance of general education and employment-related skills, while others express perceptions of uneven quality of courses (especially, off-campus and online courses) and insufficient support for faculty research and creative activity. The desire to raise admissions standards and enhance academic rigor is a consistent theme among faculty respondents.

Enhance and Strengthen:
Marketing and Communication

Cay Kolling - Chairperson
Jody Stone
John Pommier
Ken Baker
Paul Johnston
Vicki Woodard

Another strong theme that emerges from our discussions with both on- and off-campus constituents is the perception that the university needs to do more to promote and market its efforts. Eastern has many success stories to share, but many respondents believe that these messages need to reach wider audiences. The need to improve internal communications and better share information among units is noted by some campus constituents.

Enhance and Strengthen:
Campus and Community Life

Hether Webb - Chairperson
Ashley Aardsma
Janet Werden
Terri Fredrick
Tina Jenkins
Tony Oliver

Constituents recognize that a vibrant campus and community life is essential to attract the best students, faculty and staff. They note that Eastern has some excellent facilities (e.g., the Renewable Energy Center, the Doudna Fine Arts Center), while other facilities are dated and could use significant improvement (e.g., the Life Sciences building, Coleman Hall). While some stakeholders appreciate the comfort and safety offered by Charleston, others want more options for shopping, dining and transportation. The need to strengthen school pride is also a strong theme among student respondents. External constituents are nearly universal in their desire to strengthen strategic partnerships with EIU.

Navigate the Future:
Financial Sustainability

Mike Dobbs - Chairperson
Bill Weber
Grant Sterling
Mike Maurer
Ryan Siegel

Both internal and external constituents recognize the severity of the state's fiscal challenges and their impact on tuition rates and the university's financial sustainability. Affordability and accessibility to an Eastern education remain high priorities for constituents. Performance-based state funding is identified as a new opportunity for the university. Respondents mention several strategies for ensuring our financial sustainability, including identification of alternative revenue sources, enhanced fundraising efforts and reallocation of funds.

Navigate the Future:
Emerging Technologies

Roger Beck – Chairperson
Amy Edwards
Assege HaileMariam
Karen Drage
Kathy Reed
Tiffany Leschke

Internal constituents are particularly mindful of the impact that technology has on educating today's and tomorrow's students. Faculty and administrators emphasize that technology is changing students' learning styles and attitudes. While technology has many dimensions, respondents most frequently raise issues related to online learning. In particular, quality control of online courses is a concern to the faculty at large and some students. Administrators and other respondents stress that alternative education delivery has created new competition from for-profit institutions. Other technology-related issues mentioned by constituents include the quality of laboratories and other facilities and the expectation of constructing a new science building.

Navigate the Future:
Global Competition and Changing Demographics

Dawn VanGunten - Chairperson
Brenda Major
Gene Deerman
Jocelyn Tipton
Kaninika Bhatnagar

A final emergent theme is the need to adapt to increased globalization and diversification. Respondents are aware of the reality of competing in global markets and the importance of preparing the future workforce to be competitive both at home and globally. International programs, study abroad and cultural enrichment are seen by many as essential to students' educations. Most understand that educating the diverse citizenry must be coupled with cultivating the benefits offered by human and cultural diversity. Further, many constituents see these benefits as a key component to recruiting and retaining the best students, faculty and staff, as changing demographics for these groups strengthen the expectation for a culturally diverse educational environment.

Next Steps

During the summer, steering committee members will research and prepare concept papers on each of the strategic themes. Each concept papers will be about 5–7 pages in length and is intended to provide an accessible introduction to the strategic theme, with information such as background, lessons learned and national and global trends. The concept papers will be vetted with the campus community early in the fall semester.

The concept papers will be the foundation for a late September meeting called the Vision Conference. About 60 constituent representatives, both internal and external, will meet to review and discuss the six strategic themes and develop a shared vision for the university.