Officials strategize for University’s next steps

For the rest of the 2014-15 academic year, Murray State officials will plan initiatives for the University to aspire to for the next seven years.

Using students, faculty and staff input, the strategic initiatives executive committee will expand and approve goals based on reports from four different, individual committees. The committees all focus on six components of the University: academic excellence, student success, scholarship, research, creative thought and community engagement.

After holding town hall meetings for the four individual committees, the executive committee heard initial propositions. Jay Morgan, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said all the town hall meetings haven’t been for nothing.

“The town hall meetings have been lofty and aspiring, but realistic,” Morgan said.

However, little student participation in the town hall meetings has been a setback.

In response, the committee may develop a student-centered town hall meeting in which all four committees will attend and students can hear and suggest initiatives to be added for the plan. A date for the meeting has not been established, but will be held in conjunction with the Student Government Association in January.

The committees created a minimum of six objectives based on their town hall meetings, and Morgan said each town hall meeting had approximately 40 attendees.

Academic excellence committee objectives include recruitment and retention of faculty and staff, promoting community and international academic involvement, enhancing academic curricular and co-curricular activities and enhancing learning and teaching environments by providing developmental opportunities.

One important topic the executive committee highlighted was finding 35 percent of new employees’ spouses a local job within the first six months of employment. Morgan said the idea, however, strayed away from the University’s ability to do so.

“It would be a good goal to have,” he said, “but it’s not one the University would be involved with.”

Morgan said the University would be involved in dual career hiring, but could not guarantee employment for new employee spouses outside of the University.

The student success committee developed 13 objectives, including attracting and enrolling diverse and qualified students, improving graduation rates and a review of the University Studies policies.

According to the Murray State website, “the University Studies component of the Murray State undergraduate program provides students with a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences education as a foundation for their academic specialty.”

The program’s last re-evaluation took place in 2005, almost 10 years ago.

The scholarship, research and creative thought committee highlighted a need for more undergraduate and graduate research and recognition for projects for both student and faculty.

Additionally, the committee agreed upon further expanding goals for creative thought, and specifically the arts.

The community engagement committee covered objectives such as engaging more K-12 students, providing more educational opportunities through extended campus sites, partnerships with non- profits and organizations for economic development and raising the educational attainment level in all 18 counties in the region.

The committee focused on raising the educational attainment level, because only two of the 18 service region counties, Calloway and McCracken, meet state averages in baccalaureate degree education level.

Even though the executive committee reviewed all of the proposed objectives, revisions and additions are still possible in the coming months.

All individual committees and the executive committee welcome suggestions, and placed boxes in buildings such as the Curris Center and the Business Building.

Additionally, suggestions can be entered at the Murray State website. The committee has received 15 website responses as of Nov. 18.

Finalization of initiatives won’t begin until March, and the final presentation to the Board of Regents will be June 5.

Story by Mary BradleyEditor-in-Chief