Group commented on what they liked about WCU:
- How we value students. They are not just a number.
- Investment of the staff
- Interest in student success
- Employees work together to reach a goal
- Willingness to try new things
- Small class sizes
- Student focused
- Open to change. We have creative people who are looking for new opportunities to reach students.
- We have a niche in the UNC system. We have a variety of strong programs that we offer that no other university in the system offers.
- Right size of a university
- Good reputation
- Unique that we offer campus tours to anybody on any day
- Restrictive Budget
- Don’t have the same amenities on campus as other colleges
- Feel isolated. We have few restaurants, shopping, or entertainment close to campus. Many students who come here from larger cities experience culture shock because due to a lack of amenities in the surrounding areas.
- We should focus on what the outdoors can offer
- We don’t have a good funding base to offer professional development for staff or faculty
- Student scholarships suffer due to the inability to offer scholarship packages
- Understaffed; many of us are overworked
- We need to invest in the infrastructure of what we already have instead of focusing on only what is new
- Our history has been that we go from initiative to initiative with little time to follow through
- We talk about community outreach but we don’t always do it
- There is a division between faculty and staff
- It is not conveyed that staff are needed as much as faculty and administration
- We need to find a better balance the personal touch with students and allowing them to become adults. We tend to cripple the students by walking them through every step.
- It is difficult to offer real world experiences because the local region is “dried up.”
- Salaries are not competitive
- We lack the infrastructure in the community. i.e.: transportation, healthcare, etc.
Barriers to developing off campus relationships:
- Where would you have the relationships? We would need to be extremely creative with the location.
- Who would be the leader, us or the community?
- What is our community? Jackson, Cherokee, Swain, Clay, Macon, etc.
- How much do we value our relationship?
Priorities and vision:
- Accept students and graduate them with a high quality degree to ensure job placement
- Retention rates need to improve since that will determine our future budget
- Focus on healthcare education to ensure higher paying jobs
- Possibly offer “emporiums” like other universities so students could take classes as needed rather than setting a standard number of hours. (UNC-Charlotte offers a Calculus Emporium)
WCU in 5-10 years:
Increase enrollment and retention particularly areas where students can get jobs Since we are growing, we need to have better transportation and classes
Growth in student engagement Inspire the students rather than “teach” them Focus our resources on what we do well instead of trying to do everything. Determine which programs are working and graduating students Grow Honors and Service Learning
Since we have cut positions, our classes are already too large and we have maxed out classrooms The students need to experience the large classroom environment and learn those skills as well as the small classes Determine the best class size based on the program Look at the pass/fail rates. High fail rates should have smaller classes Offer supplemental instruction throughout the year, not just in the summer
Reduce the number of programs and concentrate on the programs that are successful Offer more concentrations rather than so many programs Offer more diversity Some of the smaller programs should be retained because they are supportive to other programs and are unique to the university Determine if the programs are supportive in getting jobs
- We need more national recognition for scholarship
- There is no funding or support available for staff to engage in scholarship
- We can only grow with what we can support
- We need to start building up rather than out
- Grow smart. Determine what is needed and focus on what is best for the students. Build a hub so students can “live” here.
WCU role in the community and region:
Sincere interest in Dillsboro Major employer Gives residents the opportunity for higher education due to higher costs of living in larger communities
Community partner building. We ask for their help but offer nothing in return. Help the community with what we know and work within the community to offer sustainability Help do more to bring in industry
Concrete steps to better serve:
Mend our relationship with local government. Students have a negative impact on the area. Officials and residents believe that the students are a group of young people who disrupt the community. Encourage students to enjoy and support the town
What would you like for WCU to initiate?
- Mend relationships
- We should ask the community what they want
- Become sensitive to diversity. It isn’t acknowledged in the correct way.
- Attract businesses and support the ones that are already here
Message to the 2020 Commission:
- We need to follow through with what comes from this analysis
- Understand that IT is a critical infrastructure and necessary for instruction and university operations.
- Assign departments and individuals with specific tasks
- Hire more staff to help implementation because we are already overworked
- We appreciate the opportunity to give feedback
- Employees are a great resource. Their voice holds value.
- Need to focus on the strategic plan and give it time to change. Give us the framework so we can restructure our responsibilities. Do a complete restructuring so we can redirect our focus instead of adding more work to what we already do.
- Define who we are
- Be consistent