As a land-grant institution, West Virginia University is dedicated to providing students with the skills they need to become the leaders of tomorrow while it serves the entire state.
The 2020 Strategic Plan for the Future is already moving the University forward through a series of roundtables.
“We are responsible for promoting economic growth in our state,” said Nigel Clark, West Virginia University’s associate vice president for Academic Strategic Planning. “We want to provide support to communities through outreach. We want to strongly engage with the children of the state, which includes giving them a vision of the path they can take to a successful career.”
To realize the goals of the strategic plan, the University is forming roundtables: groups of approximately seven experts in a particular area, led by a chair.
These roundtables will advance the strategic plan’s goals of engaging students; excelling in research, creative activity, and innovation; fostering diversity; advancing international partnerships and engagement; and enhancing the quality of life of West Virginians.
So far, a research roundtable has been convened, led by Provost Michele Wheatly and Health Science Chancellor Christopher Colenda, as well as a global engagement roundtable, led by College of Business and Economics “Dean Jose V. “Zito Sartarelli.
“Our research roundtable is reviewing our resources, structures and practices to reach our Carnegie research ranking goal,” Wheatly said.
One of WVU’s goals in the research area is endeavoring to achieve the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching “Very High Research Activity” classification.
Sartarelli said developing a strong global presence will be good for the state, WVU and students. The roundtable’s overarching goal is for WVU to increase its global footprint, and there are several solutions being discussed to achieve that.
The University currently attracts approximately 1,400 of the 700,000 international students that study in the U.S. each year. Approximately 850 students at WVU travel abroad each year.
Those numbers should probably double in the next 5-10 years, Sartarelli said, if the University is to grow its influence and connections and reach the level of global engagement shown by peer public land-grant institutions.
A possible strategy would be to engage with countries that are or will be significant for their economy and population. Sartarelli said an option is to focus on G-20 countries that include Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and others. Focusing WVU’s international engagement will make the best of the University’s limited resources, he said.
WVU would continue outreach and initiatives with other countries, but could choose to focus on key countries.
To avoid reinventing the wheel, the global engagement roundtable will visit land-grant institutions with long histories of international outreach, such as The Ohio State University, Michigan State University and Pennsylvania State University.
A potential internal development for international engagement could be to bring all international programs, both study abroad and international student programs, together under one roof, he said.
Ultimately, increasing global engagement is about making the person across the negotiating table a Mountaineer.
“We’re teaching sons and daughters of the world to go back out and become partners of WVU and the U.S.,” he said.
Sartarelli expects to have a preliminary plan in place by mid-August that will lay out the strategy and structure for WVU’s international engagement.
In the area of excelling in education, a “Blueprint for Student Success” working group was already in existence under the guidance of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Dooley.
The group has already made advances that work to strengthen retention, especially for first-year students.
“Over the past ten months, more than 100 individuals on seven action teams representing Academic and Student Affairs, have come together to explore new ideas and strategies for enhancing student success,” Dooley said.
“As a result, we have set into motion an aggressive plan in support of undergraduate student success. Several initiatives, such as the Early Alert Program, the new First-Year Seminar for incoming students, a revised New Student Orientation, a new Virtual Orientation, and the First Year Academy— a formal transition program held the weekend before the first day of class— have been designed with the goal to improve and promote student success.”
The next roundtable to be formed will focus on engagement with the state, and pay particular attention to economic development and to the state’s youth. Clark expects to establish other roundtables around various outreach issues, graduate education, and diversity.
“The roundtables are composed of people with leadership experience who by and large are already involved in that area, but they are charged to advance the plan rather than adopt the status quo,” he said.
Each roundtable has the latitude to move as quickly as needed and solve problems as they arise.
“It’s not as if these implementation teams are going to ponder for a long time,” Clark said. “If something’s obvious, they’ll move ahead on that front and continue to deal with other business.”
And WVU takes action outside of the roundtables as necessary. The University continues toward its goal of 100 new faculty members as it hires the second group of 30 new positions. Clark said that there will be two more rounds of new faculty hires in key areas of the University. In support of the 2020 Strategic Plan’s commitment to excellence in research, Faculty Senate research grant funding has been increased and will more than double by 2012.
As the roundtables progress, they will report their findings to the Faculty Senate and post results to the University’s strategic planning website.
The Strategic Planning Council will play a continuing role as the steering committee for the strategic plan, and has the ability to make recommendations or alterations to the plan and its implementation.
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