By Carole Burkett
Where do you see Denison in ten years? Twenty? The Hill’s community is once again involved in looking forward, through the strategic planning process. Involving most faculty and administrators, as well as staff and students, this process serves to create a long-term trajectory for the campus we all call home.
When Dr. Adam Weinberg arrived on campus for his term as university president, the process began. During the fall, he began getting acquainted with the community by meeting with student groups in the cozy living room of Monomoy Place, as well as physical plant staff, faculty and administrators.
Weinberg collected this information in a paper which were compiled with papers by each of the university’s vice presidents, the dean of first year students, and athletic director. This 115-page document that was shared with the faculty.
But this initial document will not be released to the whole campus community. The choice was made not to keep the campus in the dark, but to keep Denison’s competitive edge in the upcoming admissions season, according to Kennedy. “The papers are chock-full of data, and frankly, a lot of it’s proprietary data,” she said.
The campus-wide evaluation is similar to the re-accreditation process, which last occurred in 2009-10. It involved the production and publication of a comprehensive document that was submitted to the accreditation agency and is published on the website here.
The next step in this year’s project is the formation of ten staff and faculty-led focus groups who are addressing specific questions raised by the document. The campus community will be included through surveys and conversations.
Director of Campus Leadership and Engagement Natalie Pariano is leading one group, which is discussing civic engagement at Denison. At bi-weekly meetings, a gathering of faculty, staff, and two students work to “inventory what works,” according to Pariano, and consider the possibilities and opportunities to develop organizations on campus.
Classics professor Rebecca Kennedy is part of a group focusing on facilitating faculty as teacher-scholars. “We’re enjoying being a little messy,” she said, calling this time an “idea generating phase.” And some of the ideas they’ve discussed could drastically change Denison student opportunities.
Kennedy said she’d like to see humanities professors be able to hire students as research assistants, instead of the current system for student summer research, which asks students to formulate ideas for their own projects.
Focus groups and surveys for specific questions will be held throughout the next few weeks, and DCGA has designated a task force who will gather campus opinions and write up reports.
This collected information will be submitted in the form of recommendations on April 25. These will be reviewed at the faculty retreat after the semester concludes in May, and a final plan will be presented to the Board of Trustees at their annual meeting in October.
Photo courtesy Katie Jenko