Workgroup review committee plans future meetings

Brooke Schwartz, Administration Reporter

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On Friday, the review committee that is continuing to look at Vitalization Workgroups no. 8 and 9 met for the first time to set up a plan of action for future meetings.

During the vitalization project, Workgroup no. 8 looked at developing new programs to increase enrollment. Workgroup no. 9 looked at changing the organization of the university’s academic colleges, schools and departments, and different learning platforms and tuition models that could be used.

This review committee has been discussed for the majority of this semester, but was just staffed at a Faculty Senate meeting Oct.17, with ten faculty members having been elected to serve on the committee.

At the committee meeting, biological sciences professor Billy Hung was elected as the chair and put in charge of organizing and keeping track of future meetings and agendas.

The meetings will continue to be open, with discussion still being had about whether or not the committee will invite speakers to present.

This week, members of Student Senate and Staff Senate will be invited to sit in on the meetings to provide input to the committee. Neither the Student nor Staff Senate will be able to vote or make any other decisions.

The committee has to share their recommendations and feedback to the provost no later than Jan.15. These recommendations will be up for further discussion at the President’s Council.

The committee will have approximately 10 weeks to review the work of Workgroups no. 8 and 9.

Provost Jay Gatrell, vice president for academic affairs, said the importance of this committee is that it focuses on Eastern’s future.

“At the macro level, I really would like your best read and sense of what makes sense to the campus culture, to its historical trajectory, and where we as an institution want to be in the next three to five years,” Gatrell said.

Hung said he thought that setting a goal of progress during the next three to five years would be a good way to implement different actions, as he wants to see what is discussed happen within a couple of years.

However, committee member Stephen Lucas, the interim associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, said he has a problem with such a short outlook in the goal of the committee.

Getting the committee’s priorities straight, and a potential chronology about the programs, would be a good idea, he said.

“I think we need to look ten years out, because I’ve been here 12 years and we haven’t changed enough in those 12 years and I think that’s a mistake,” Lucas said.

Gatrell said the committee should not just repeat what Workgroups no. 8 and 9 said, but combine the common themes of the two workgroups together and to implement those ideas.

The committee has decided to take the next week to read Workgroups no. 8 and 9’s final recommendations, and to come to its next meeting with reading notes and what they want to prioritize.

The time and date of the next meeting has not been decided yet.

The three criteria with which the committee will be judging the workgroups recommendations are their “merits, priorities, and overall feasibility,” according to the committee’s charge, which was given to members before the meeting.

Gatrell said he wants the committee to focus purely on “vision over arithmetic,” and on improving the campus.

He added that he does not want them to worry too much over a lack of resources, but to focus on providing quality recommendations that will benefit the university as a whole.

Many of the members, including Hung, said they nominated themselves for this committee to be an active part of improving the campus around them and students’ overall experience at Eastern.

“I volunteered to be on this committee because I think a lot of the recommendations (in Workgroups no. 8 and 9) are really profound suggestions for our institution, and I wanted to be a part of the conversation to talk about these processes,” Hung said. “I want to see our committee come up with a kind of cohesive statement about our university’s near future.”

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]