Dear Campus Community:
As I wrote last week, I will send out brief reflections over the coming weeks on aspects of our new strategic plan. These reflections provide a context for the focus areas of the plan and are meant to underscore the significance of the plan and why each focus area is crucial to EWU’s success.
Reflection on the EWU Strategic Plan: 2018-2023
Goal: We Ignite Change
In describing our 21st Century environment, I borrow the military acronym VUCA: our world is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Every sector of our economy and society is experiencing extreme disturbance: from newspapers to the music industry, from healthcare to retail, from taxicabs to the Post Office, the world we know is fundamentally changing from the way it had been for many decades.
Certainly, our region and our university have always been changing: we’re not the college we were 50 years ago or even the university of 15 years ago. However, the pace of change is accelerating and shows no sign of slowing down. If EWU is to survive and thrive and also to excel at its mission, it must embrace change. Moreover, in key areas, the university must ignite change: we will be the change agent itself, rather than simply responding to upheavals and disruptions in our environment.
Thus, We Ignite Change is one of the four major goals of the new planning document.
As a key change agent in our region, EWU will help ensure its own continuing success and contribute even more significantly to the growing success of our region. The new strategic plan addresses a number of critical issues related to change. I list two here.
Critical issue: Despite a rapidly changing workforce that demands high-level skills, only a small percentage of people in our region achieve a university education. EWU can’t wait passively for prepared, diverse students to come to us: we must help to change the culture that deters people from considering the university as an option.
We will reach out to schools, tribes, and other groups and organizations, not only to inspire young people to prepare for college but also to provide well-designed programs and opportunities that help pave students’ path to success. Our strategic plan emphasizes summer programing for middle and high school students, a STEM resource center, and strong partnership with local tribes. Our fundraising efforts will focus on significantly increasing resources for student scholarships.
EWU is committed to changing lives. We will impact the college-going rate as well.
Critical Issue: Businesses and organizations in our region frequently struggle with the lack of a professional workforce, issues of size and scale, and insufficient expertise in areas such as planning, marketing, changing technologies, and communication strategies. Meanwhile, many EWU faculty and staff have knowledge, skills, and experience that can assist local businesses, and our students seek applied experiences and business connections that will prepare them for careers. We will bring the university into closer alignment with local businesses and organizations.
An EWU Center for Applied Research and Economic Development will encourage collaboration between the university and employers and organizations. It will facilitate useful research, promote interdisciplinary curricula, and develop a brain trust and creative think-tank that will greatly benefit our region as well as the university itself.
EWU plays a significant role in the local economy. We will help ignite changes that support our university mission as well as our region’s overall economic health and long-term success.
Next week I will reflect on a second goal of our plan: We Embrace Equity and Social Justice.