By SARAH DENBY
Students may not recognize the University of Mary Washington five years from now with all the construction and renovation on campus.
The UMW Steering Committee released its third draft of the strategic plan for the university for the next five years. The plan includes eight goals, each including several objectives that have been created by the committee as guidelines to follow for the next five to eight years.
The Steering Committee created 14 discussion groups last spring. These discussion groups, consisted of some faculty, staff and students as well as individuals affiliated with UMW.
Each group covered a variety of topics and submitted final reports, each with their own recommendations to the committee in April. In June, the Steering Committee was able to create with these reports the first working draft.
English Professor and Faculty Senate President Mary Rigsby, who is a member of the Steering Committee, is happy with the results of the strategic plan.
“I like it,” Rigsby said. “The process by which it has been drafted has been the best process ever here at Mary Washington. The community was involved. It was a large group effort.”
The eight goals focus on a variety of factors such as academics, diversity, school spirit, student life and financing.
Beginning this fall and continuing into the spring semester of 2010, the Committee will go through the current courses offered to see which need improvement and development, as well as getting rid of courses that are no longer useful to make the curriculum more defining. The Committee has also stated within the plan to increase funding for experimental and service learning, internships and undergraduate research.
The Committee stated in the plan to further establish the new College of Business and College of Education, which has already been endorsed. An objective in the plan for the College of Business is to try to achieve AACSB, or Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation, which is known as the highest standard of achievement for business schools.
Senior Olivia Newman, a business major, is taking Organizational and Developmental Change, as an elective course toward her major this semester. The class is implementing the strategic planning of the College of Business. In regards to the AACSB accreditation, Newman thinks that this would be a great success.
“I think, if implemented correctly, the College of Business would be a huge strength for Mary Washington. The AACSB accreditation would be a huge benefit for the students. Our school would get a lot more recognition,” she said.
The strategic plan calls for continuing to improve student life on campus, which would include creating a student center that would, according to the plan “serve as the heart of campus for student interaction and involvement.”
This student center would house Judicial Affairs and Residence Life, along with offices of Student Activities and student organizations. The student center would provide food and a place for students to hang out and relax.
Although this may sound like a great idea, senior Jim Platner thinks that this isn’t really necessary.
“I guess combining the Student Activities, Residence Life, etcetera would be ‘more ideal’, but they did just revamp Lee Hall so it seems like a bit of a waste of money,” Platner said. “Also, it would be much more cost effective to expand the hours and quality of food at one of the preexisting locations.
The Steering Committee has also provided objectives for UMW to find more sources of revenue, as well as increasing state funding for the operating budget.
They also looked over the tuition history of the university. Some objectives within the plan will try to increase the number of “need based scholarships”, along with improving the affordability of the university.