By Janice Tieperman
Students, faculty and administration alike gathered on both Monday and Tuesday in the University Reception room to engage in a continued series of roundtable discussions over ESU’s current strategic plan.
A round table is defined as an academic discussion where participants agree upon a topic to discuss and debate.
Each person is given equal right to participate, hence the name “round table”.
It is a circular movement where everyone gets the chance to talk.
Before the meeting truly got underway, all attendees introduced themselves, with students providing their year of study and faculty and administration providing the amount of time they had been with the university.
To maintain the open environment of the meeting, thoughts and opinions of individuals discussed in meeting will remain anonymously attributed.
To open the meeting, President Marcia G. Welsh restated the goals that had been determined for the official strategic plan in the previous year.
“Last year’s strategic plan had four goals, with title Students First: Innovate ESU,” began Welsh.
“The first was students first, and putting student success at the university as priority.
Goal two was a strong sense of community, understanding and living our mission and values and building a commitment to our community and region both on-campus and off-campus.”
“Goal three,” Welsh continued, “was a reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship to develop a reputation for a curious, inventive and risk-taking culture, and goal four was innovative faculty developing a culture of research and scholarship and rethinking the preparation of successful graduates.”
The following discussion determined that while these four goals were a good starting point there was plenty of progress left to made in truly fulfilling the goals.
One of the biggest concerns addressed was the ability to speak freely about the issues that individuals felt were present within the university community.
A lack of open communication with the previous administration was acknowledged as everyone reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining a productive environment with fruitful feedback.
“The more we do these roundtables, hopefully more people will speak up, but up until that time, there was never a venue for open conversation,” spoke one attendant.
This discussion opened up the idea for an anonymous online “safe space” where people could submit their thoughts and suggestions for the university without the fear of confrontation.
A conversation discussing the cohesiveness of the faculty and students as a whole, leading to some breakthrough dialogue regarding the belief that the faculty did work very collectively.
The discussion frequently referenced the analogy of both individuals and small groups of faculty functioning as “silos,” or individual, fortified structures that lacked connection between one another.
Ultimately, one of the most prevalent themes of the roundtable was that the separations and tensions between the different communities on campus need to be
acknowledged before ESU’s strategic plan can make any further progress.
Regardless of everyone’s varying views, the attitude emerging from the meeting was one of optimism and growth for ESU’s future.
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