Campuswide forum discusses progress of MU's strategic plan

Thursday, April 19, 2012 | 7:14 p.m. CDT; updated 7:26 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 19, 2012

COLUMBIA — The first campuswide meeting that discussed the progress of MU's  strategic plan, which is titled "One Mizzou: 2020 Vision for Excellence," was held in the Mark Twain Ballroom in Memorial Union on Thursday.

More than 50 faculty and staff members attended the event.

"The large presence is indicative of the fact that you care about what is happening at the university, and that you want to have some impact," Michael Middleton said as he addressed the crowd. Middleton, who is the deputy chancellor and MU professor of law sat in for Chancellor Brady Deaton, who arrived late because of a meeting with Gov. Jay Nixon.

Patricia Okker, chair of the Strategic Planning and Resource Advisory Council, began by outlining the unique characteristics of the strategic plan on campus. She said the plan is "a living document that will undergo continuous and frequent updates," which will be available for viewing on the website created for the plan.

The idea to implement the plan came as a way of ensuring that regular campuswide opportunities are available to discuss the plan and its progress over time, she said.

Another major goal of the plan is to encourage broad participation among faculty members, staff, students and administrators, she said.

The event was co-sponsored by Deaton, Provost Brian Foster, Faculty Council, Staff Advisory Council, Missouri Students Association, Graduate and Professional Council, and Strategic Planning and Resource Advisory Council.

Okker said the range of organizations involved was a good example of the "broad participation" that is of the plan's main goals.

She said the planning committee is dedicated to emphasizing MU's unique strengths and to making sure the plan was specific enough to MU that it would not be interchangeable with plans of other research-based universities. 

The plan has three major goals, which contain a total of more than 50 specific objectives. Each objective lists the actions that are needed to be done and the actions that have been taken, Okker said.

The three main goals are to:

  • Enhance all programs at the university that would improve the lives of those living in Missouri, the nation and the world.
  • Build on Mizzou Advantage, a program made up of five initiatives including: food for the future; media of the future; one health, one medicine; sustainable energy and managing innovation.
  • Make sure sufficient infrastructure, human and financial resources are in place to support the future of teaching, research, outreach and economic development.

Because the website provides detailed information on the progress of the objectives, members of the panel offered only brief descriptions of the progress in specific areas like diversity, staff interests in compensation and training, and Mizzou Advantage. Those areas served as examples of the work that has been underway since the plan was implemented last fall.

Xavier Billingsley, president of the Missouri Students Association, discussed the first objective of the third goal, which is "(to) build and continually strengthen, in all university programs, a diverse, safe and inclusive culture that encourages and rewards interaction across demographic, social and interpersonal differences."

"We have a plethora of resources for students of all different backgrounds," Billingsley said. "Mizzou is far ahead when it comes to its SEC counterparts with the diversity program," he said.

MU is one of the few universities among the SEC schools to have an LGBTQ Center and only one of the two that has a Women's Center, he said.

Harry Tyrer, chairman of the Faculty Council and professor of computer and electrical engineering, said he was impressed with Billingsley's presentation and his dedication to promoting diversity issues on campus.

"Students are so actively involved and we need to hear what they have to say," he said. 

Marijo Dixon, the lead member of the Staff Advisory Council task force, encouraged those present to share opinions, even if it was a "germ of an idea" or just a thought, during the forum or through email. 

Kathryn Chval, associate dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Education, was one of the faculty members who attended the forum. She said it is important for everyone on campus to have an opportunity to get involved and voice their ideas.

She attributed the variety of organizations involved to the structure of the plan and its transparent nature, which she said motivates people to participate.

"The more transparent the process and the more you communicate, the more you increase the likelihood of people getting involved," she said. "It feels like a safe space in which we can rethink how to be more efficient and innovative."

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