by Josiah Van Wingerden | Staff Writer
During the 2010-11 academic year, Whitworth faculty, staff and administration members outlined eight broad goals in a 10-year vision plan that the university has endeavored to achieve.
Whitworth administration plans to restructure its budget and intends to free up approximately $3.7 million over the next three fiscal years. The university has made progress toward achieving its goals, but administration also realizes it is a 10-year plan for a reason, President Beck Taylor said.
“I am pleased with where the university is in a lot of areas, but we have a lot of work to do,” Taylor said. “If you look at some of the areas in our strategic plan that haven’t moved a lot in the last five years, we’re going to be turning our attention to those things and seeing what we can do and accomplish to ensure that by the time 2021 rolls around, we’re in good shape.”
The year the plan was created was Taylor’s first year as president of the institution. He took over the position after the 17-year tenure of Bill Robinson. Taylor formed his own university council, which included staff members, faculty and students. Together, they drafted the 2021 vision, Taylor said.
Greg Orwig, now the vice-president of admissions and financial aid, served as Taylor’s chief of staff in 2010 when the vision was created. He also was a key member of the budget prioritization committee and oversaw the entire process, Orwig said.
Six years later, Orwig said that the key performance indicators offered a “mixed report” in terms of tracking the university’s progress toward those goals.
Orwig highlighted student diversity as an objective the university has had success in, and now recruits a variety of students from multiple countries around the world.
For instance, there were 312 students from underrepresented countries, populations and ethnic backgrounds attending the university in 2011.
The university wanted to increase that number by 15 students each year, with the end goal being at least 462 students. In 2016-17, however, there are 537 students currently enrolled from underrepresented demographics, Orwig said.
“I think they are doing really well when it comes to recruiting and making Whitworth more diverse,” said sophomore Jeff Louissant, an Act Six scholar from Haiti, studying health sciences.
However, an area that is not making much progress is overall student enrollment, which has stagnated at about 2,200 students, Orwig said. The current student population is not growing and is 100 students shy of the goal. To achieve the objective, the university plans to implement customer relationship management software to help reach a broader body of students.
In addition to increasing the student population, the university administration wanted to provide faculty with raises and benefits, which made a reprioritized and reallocated budget, Orwig said.
“I believe Whitworth is on track toward achieving its 2021 goals and I think this process to identify resources that could be reallocated and invested toward strategic priorities will only help us to achieve those goals,” Orwig said.
In an attempt to elevate a liberal arts education, Whitworth plans to offer more programs that would encourage more students to come to the university.
Such programs include a new and more comprehensive engineering program and a women’s lacrosse team. Both are intended to be sources of revenue for the university, Taylor said.
Neither Taylor nor Orwig believe the budget reallocation will have significant impacts on recruitment, class sizes or quality of education. However, some departments, including political science, may experience some unique changes over the next few years. The Community Engagement and Transformation minor had been recommended for phasing out under the Political Science department.
“The one thing about a plan is that as soon as you write it, it’s immediately out of date,” Taylor said. “That’s true of any plan, because any plan assumes that the future is going to look exactly like the present. But we of course know that the future brings a lot of unanticipated surprises.”
Students with questions about the 2021 vision can visit Whitworth’s website. Whitworth administration also plans to introduce a revision of the plan during the April board meeting now that it is the halfway point.
Contact Josiah Van Wingerden at email@example.com