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Faculty / Staff Conversation - Session 11

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
  • Location

Strengths:

  • Location
  • 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

Weaknesses:

  • 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:


Students:
  • Increase enrollment and retention particularly areas where students can get jobs
  • Since we are growing, we need to have better transportation and classes
  • Quality:
  • 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
  • Class size:
  • 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
  • Program Mix:
  • 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
  • Scholarship:

    • We need more national recognition for scholarship
    • There is no funding or support available for staff to engage in scholarship

    Campus Size:

    • 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:

    Positive aspects
  • Sincere interest in Dillsboro
  • Major employer
  • Gives residents the opportunity for higher education due to higher costs of living in larger communities
  • Negative aspects
  • 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
     

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