Workgroup No.8 discusses town hall meetings

Cassie Buchman, News Editor


Workgroup no.8, Academic Visioning I, discussed sharing their group’s preliminary discussions online and having a town hall meeting next semester for the public to give feedback on them at their meeting Monday.

An online draft of the group’s preliminary discussions will be posted on the vitalization project’s webpage.

The draft put online will be the same one that is shared with Eastern President David Glassman.

“Everyone will have access to that,” Workgroup chair Jeff Stowell said. “We are not making recommendations at this point; these are just preliminary discussions. We have not prioritized any initiatives. We are still learning about new programs.”

In the online draft there will be data from multiple sources that have been shared with Stowell, including information about labor statistics, the community, staff members and admissions data, as well as from national trends and public reports.

There will also be a list of topics the group has discussed, such as healthcare-related fields, agricultural programs and how they fit in with neighboring community colleges and disciplines.

“The general date hopefully presents themes that support at least the programs we have discussed,” he said.

The Workgroup anticipates having a “town hall meeting” for each of the four academic colleges to talk about these discussions.

Stowell said a town hall would be important to get people’s personal interactions and feelings on the preliminary draft.

“People (can) generate ideas, hear each other’s ideas, get the emotional feedback of what’s happening,” he said.

Members of Academic Visioning I will take notes on what people at the town hall meeting say, which Stowell said will help them with the prioritization of their ideas.

Technology professor Peter Ping Liu said a town hall meeting would be more conducive as they would have a chance to meet with faculty and other stakeholders in the programs they are talking about.

“We can learn from the reactions,” Liu said.

Ryan Hendrickson, interim dean of the graduate school, said he liked the idea of a survey, but not a “scientific” one.

“I just mean a way to solicit additional input by asking faculty and students if they want to contribute in a different way,” he said. “I don’t mean survey as a public opinion poll. I just meant it as another way to reach out to people.

He said it would be an efficient and easy way to reach out to a wider audience of people.

“Nearly all the other Workgroups have put out a survey,” Hendrickson said.

He said he wanted to call what the Workgroup was putting online a set of “preliminary discussions” instead of proposals.

“(After) eight or nine individual proposals, I don’t think we’ve said as a committee here is the direction we want to go,” Hendrickson said. “I don’t know if we’re at recommendation or even proposal stage.”

He said the preliminary discussion draft would instead just show what the group is thinking of.

Biological sciences professor Britto Nathan said since it is a preliminary draft the group is putting online, it can be changed.

“That’s the real honest truth,” Nathan said.

Stowell said next semester, the group would talk more about micro degrees.

A survey option for those who cannot attend the town hall meeting will give them a chance to ask different questions as an easy way to collect data, Stowell said.

“There will be some overlap, but (we’ll ask) slightly different questions that can be hard to do when taking notes from 50 people,” he said.

The group has been learning about programs through proposals people have given on ideas they have for their areas.

“The proposals are a chance for people who are passionate about programs to explain real needs (and where) they see opportunities for real growth,” Stowell said.

He said the Workgroup has been open to anyone’s ideas.

“Our group is trying to evaluate, and we will need to prioritize which (ideas) are going to be the biggest draw for the university in building our prestige and attracting students,” she said.

The Workgroup will submit their preliminary draft on Thursday, Dec.15.

By mid-next week, Stowell said he hopes to revise what Renee Kidd-Marshall, director of the nursing program, told him at the meeting about the idea for Master’s programs in nursing related fields.

“All the stuff we’ve been discussing in our meeting, we will have a mention of every single one of them in the report,” Stowell said.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].