Strategic plan charts three years of change to campus life

The small 27-page booklet may have a carefree blue mosaic cover that pictures students laughing, but within it is one of the most detailed set of changes planned for campus to be  released in over 20 years.

The Division of Student Affairs released their second three-year strategic plan this past Monday, Sept. 20.

It is the second plan released after their reintroduction in 2013, when the first one was released in over 20 years. It covers the current and the following two academic years.

The plan entails a large focus on improving access to resources for survivors of sexual assault and programs designed to prevent it. It contains a new focus on programs and resources for student’s mental health and well-being. The skills students acquire by graduation is also a new priority, and additions are planned for programs in the Case Western Reserve University Career Center and Center for Civic Engagement and Learning.

Greek Life may also see a number of changes to its structure and programs. School spirit and the formation of a campus identity are planned through changes in how the campus engages within itself but also in service to Cleveland. Thwing Center is to become the focal point of “student engagement” and “campus spirit”. The plan discusses changes to the building that will allow it to stay open overnight.

“[The plan’s] goals are pretty in line with President Snyder for the university as a whole and they are hitting on some key issues that the Student Presidents’ Roundtable has identified as a priority,” said Caroline Gray, chair of the Students Presidents’ Roundtable. “For example, wellness is [the SPR’s] top priority for the year. We talked a lot of unity, pride and school spirit. Preparedness is not one of our priorities of the year.”

She explained that the SPR had set their priorities for the year as wellness, traditions and one—not named yet—that focused on evaluating department programs. Gray was also chair in the fall of 2016. That semester, the Student Presidents’ Roundtable named Thwing as the “heart of campus.”

The SPR is made up of the heads of the Undergraduate Student Government, the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative, the University Media Board, the University Programming Board, the Interfraternity Congress, the Panhellenic Council, the Class Officer Collective and the Residence Hall Association.

The plan details three overarching “Strategic Goals” under which the rest of the plan expands: Unity, Wellness and Preparedness. Dennis Rupert, Associate Vice President of Operations and Planning, said that the Division of Student Affairs would retain half its focus on Unity, while the rest would remain equally on the other two goals. Rupert was charged with and put the plan together.

Ivy Petsinger, president of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and formerly the USG vice president of Student Life, discussed how Rupert came to a meeting last school year and had a discussion with the USG Student Life Committee. Petsinger was happy to see that “safety and security” was included in a portion of  plan, which had been a focus of the committee.

Garretson Oester, advisor to the SPR and formerly chair of the SPR in the spring of 2017, discussed how Rupert presented an update in the plan’s progress to the group in last academic year’s fall and spring.

“There are things that affect student life that do not fall under Student Affairs. Lighting, food and housing, they’re all in Campus Services,” said Oester. So, while I think this plan pushes towards a better [Student Affairs], and all the services it provides, I think it definitely shows where [other] things that really affect student life don’t appear in [any] strategic plan.”

Oester discussed how Auxiliary Services and Campus Parking have an impact on students daily, but don’t fall under the division.

Much like Student Affairs, the plan is made up of planes that work at an increasing level of attention. Within each of the main three “Strategic Goals” fall four “Outcomes” and a large number of actions and steps—“Strategies”—that can be implemented over the next three years to achieve each of those outcomes. In total, the plan lists 112 projects that would be completed at varying paces and range in specificity. One step under Unity names areas to “unify campus spirit in Thwing Center”. Another under Wellness states a goal to “create a holistic wellness program for the year in Multicultural Affairs.”

Rupert explained that there are a series of “metrics” that will measure the plan’s application; for example, one may be the “launch of a specific new program.”

A report on the plan’s implementation will be released yearly.