September 16, 2013
During my Opening Address and follow-up email last month, I outlined important questions that would guide campus visioning discussions this fall.
To begin this dialog, we have established a series of opportunities to join in critical conversations around the issues of greatest importance to the future of Winthrop at this time.
Our first step is to hold Town Hall meetings to review and refine the questions. Then, we will gather in smaller groups to continue those discussions on a deeper level and give time and attention to those issues of greatest importance as we move forward in the visioning process.
To accommodate your varied schedules, we will offer three Town Hall sessions in Dina's Place in the campus center.
- Monday, September 23 at 5:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, September 24 at 11 a.m.
- Wednesday, September 25 at 9:00 a.m.
The questions we will review and refine are:
- What strategies will help us grow our enrollment and position ourselves to provide improved access to a Winthrop University education for both traditional and post-traditional undergraduate students?
- What additional initiatives would help us produce retention and graduation rates that rival those of other top-ranked public comprehensives in the South? What will get us to an 82% freshman-to sophomore retention rate in five years?
- What methods of course delivery and scheduling should we adopt in order to increase our ability to attract and retain post-traditional and veteran students? How can we better accommodate the unique needs of these student populations?
- How can we make a Winthrop University education more affordable? What steps must we take so that we are able to meet 80% of undergraduate students' financial need? What changes, unrelated to the cost of tuition, should we make in order to make a Winthrop University degree more affordable?
- How can we strengthen our student life and community engagement efforts, including increasing alumni involvement in community engagement?
- How do we create a broader menu of affordable study abroad options and provide financial support for them?
- How do we leverage our success with graduate programs and determine what additional certificate and degree program offerings would serve our constituents well?
- What role could and should technology play in each of these strategic areas?
The remaining two questions about campus culture and football posed during my opening address will be handled as separate conversations.
To get us started on assessing campus culture, Lisa Cowart, Associate VP of Human Resources, enrolled Winthrop in the Great Colleges To Work For survey program I mentioned in my Opening Address. This is a free service provided by the Chronicle of Higher Education that will permit us to conduct a confidential survey among faculty and staff to discover what we think about our campus work environment in multiple areas including Collaborative Governance, Compensation and Benefits, Confidence in Senior Leadership, Job Satisfaction, Diversity, Respect and Appreciation, Teaching Environment, and Work-Life Balance. We will use the survey results to make needed improvements in each of the areas. As the start time for the survey draws closer, we will provide a reminder and how-to instructions to access the survey. In the meantime, we also will begin forming a staff assembly.
We know there are substantial costs associated with adding football. But, before we pursue any action toward building a viable funding model, we need to first make a decision about whether or not football is right for Winthrop at this time. Therefore, I have asked Tom Hickman, Director of Athletics, to gather information from institutions that have added football programs (with marching bands) in the recent past. Tom and his work group will investigate the impact of adding a football team and marching band on applications, yield rates, retention rates, male-to-female ratio, student conduct, alumni engagement, etc.
We also need to update the previously completed study about the cost of developing a football program, including the Title IX implications of balancing men’s and women’s sports. Once we have this information, we will establish additional Town Hall discussions about football.
I hope you are as excited as I am to begin the campus visioning process. Please consider any and all opportunities for you to join in the conversations.
I look forward to seeing you on one of these occasions.