Roundtable Discussion reveals list of community principles

By Verones Padilla
SC Staff Writer

President Marcia Welsh hosted another series of “Roundtable Discussions,” on Friday, April 18 and Monday, April 21. The third draft of East Stroudsburg University’s Strategic Plan has been released and includes a list of community principles for the institution.

The list outlines ten points that complement the goals and missions of our university officials. It was written by various task forces that make up the strategic plan’s steering committee.

The first principle asserts the school’s primary responsibility is the students. The principle commits to provide a quality and affordable education at all levels of higher learning.

The principles set a guideline to develop a challenging environment that uses opportunities and resources wisely for “high-impact teaching and learning.” The participants spent some time discussing what would constitute “high-impact teaching and learning.”

One of the roundtable participants said the general consensus was the university should gear teaching “to meet students where they are, not where we wished they were.”

Another participant pushed for innovative and engaging instruction that addresses audiences and focuses on real world examples. The end result would be an investment in workforce development.

“This doesn’t mean we’re going to kill the liberal arts,” said one participant, who wanted to clarify their goals. “There is a very important place for the humanities; we are just trying developing a road map for a better-rounded student.”

The rest of the principles focus on building a diverse campus that is inclusive, giving back to the community while promoting healthy lifestyles.  The principles also propose to maintain a close partnership with Alumni and other external constituencies.

Among the additions to the Strategic Plan was a new task force made of staff members.  This task force will focus on what contributions staff and faculty able to provide as well as what their expectations are of the university.

There was discussion about using technology purposefully and focusing on building a strong Master’s program at the university. There was some tension when the discussion turned to Graduate Assistantships. Some committee members suggested lavish use of them in the past.

The participants agreed that the first step to a successful Graduate College is leadership and consistency in the Dean’s office. There have been four Deans in the last six years, which participants suggested added to a lack of cohesiveness in marketing, recruiting and retaining graduate students.

The contract that sets up MBA programs in partnership with Shippensburg University is in the process of renegotiations because “neither party is happy with the current arrangements.”

The list of principles and the strategic plan are not finalized. President Welsh was adamant about having more faculty and students involved in the discussions and revisions of this plan.  “This isn’t my plan.  This is our plan,” she said.

Once the plan is complete, it will take time to become fully implemented. With ESU’s budget issues still a reality, President Welsh said the plan will start with a $200,000 budget.

When the fiscal requirements of the university allow, funds will be added to further the roll out of the plan. Ultimately, Welsh hopes for one percent of the university’s overall budget to be dedicated to implementing and carrying out the finalized plan.

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