GSS looks to University’s strategic plan, plans for next year

At their last meeting of the year on Friday, the Graduate Student Senate recapped this year and previewed the upcoming year. University President Carol Cartwright spoke about the administration’s strategic plan for the University, and she asked GSS to endorse what the planning committee has done so far and plans to do in the next few months. ‘[We’re] looking for endorsement that we’re going in the right direction,’ Cartwright said. There are four planning phases of the strategic plan, and three have been completed so far. The first two, strategic planning readiness and community engagement, were completed by September 2008. The third, strategy development and prioritization, was completed this March, and the fourth, plan execution, is slated as on-going, following the Board of Trustees’ approval of the plan. The strategic plan started under University President Ribeau, and Cartwright said not much has changed from his original game plan. In a cross-representation of faculty and staff, more than 200 ideas were submitted on what the strategic plan should focus on. Of those 200, Cartwright said they narrowed it down to seven priorities, which include ideas on expanding enrollment, enhancing the University’s capacity for conducting research, increasing diversity and aligning the goals of the individual and institution. ‘So, that’s the plan,’ Cartwright said. Pending the Board of Trustees approving the plan, Cartwright said it will be sent to all academic and administration personnel. The second guest speaker at the meeting was Lisa Chavers, the assistant dean of the Graduate College. Chavers spoke about the innovations in online learning, and how the University is adding degrees to the Web. Over the next three to five years, master’s degrees including communication studies, food and nutrition and history will be added to online learning. ‘Distance learning is not going away,’ Chavers said. ‘It’s definitely an emerging opportunity.’ But some senators thought taking only online courses are not enough preparation for jobs after school ends. Chavers said that would depend on the program and the individual, but it will need to be looked at. GSS also passed two pieces of legislation, one for supporting an optional $5 green fee for students, and one in support of adding dental insurance options for grad students. President Emmanual Guillory discussed changes that would happen next year. A 2.86 percent increase in housing costs will hit incoming and returning students looking to live on campus. ‘This will affect grad students because grad students can now live on campus,’ Guillory said. Twenty-seven spaces in Founders have been reserved for grad students, which hasn’t happened since 1991, he said. He also went over enrollment, and said the University is poised to hit 9200 admissions with a new fall class of 3200 students who decide to accept and come. Guillory updated the senate on the top 10 concerns of graduate students, and said they changed what they could this year, including getting the option for dental insurance for grad students, and what they couldn’t change will continue to be an issue next year. ‘Parking is still an issue,’ he said. ‘The conversations about parking still need to continue.’