In preparation for K-State's next accreditation review by the Higher Learning Commission, North Central Region, and to develop new strategic directions for the university, a campus committee has identified a number of new priorities. This document has been endorsed by K-State's Faculty Senate.
At the core of these priorities is K-State's new mission statement, which was approved by various entities, including final approval by the Kansas Board of Regents: "The mission of Kansas State University is to foster excellent teaching, research, and service that develop a highly skilled and educated citizenry necessary to advancing the well-being of Kansas, the nation and the international community. The university embraces diversity, encourages engagement and is committed to the discovery of knowledge, the education of undergraduate and graduate students, and improvement in the quality of life and standard of living of those we serve."
The 2008-2012 University Strategic Plan, developed by a 15-member task force convened by the provost, lays out the themes on which the university will focus in the near future. Within the university community, it serves as a guide to individual units as they establish more detailed plans and goals of their own. This document also communicates the university's plan to external constituents, such as the Higher Learning Commission and other accrediting agencies.
Listed in no particular order, the new themes are:
* Recruit, retain and develop high quality faculty;
* Recruit, retain and develop high quality professional and classified staff members;
* Strengthen the teaching, learning and student life environment;
* Enhance graduate education and research programs;
* Improve 21st century academic research library collections, services and facilities;
* Provide access to technology for information exchange and for the creation of new knowledge;
* Foster a diverse multicultural environment;
* Enhance international emphases; and
* Contribute to the state's economic development and environmental health.
In addition to identifying the themes themselves, the committee also identified specific action items for each one.
For instance, to strengthen the teaching, learning and student life environment included: providing an outstanding education experience in every degree program that is based on university student learning outcomes and sound, research-based principles of assessment; creating a unified first-year experience for all freshman and transfer students; enhancing the effectiveness of the university's advising system; investing in improved and expanded classroom space to meet future teaching needs and integrate state-of-the-art technology; integrating international experiences into the academic life of K-State students; enhancing interdisciplinary and collaborative programs in undergraduate education; and supporting programs, initiatives, and curricula that emphasize leadership development and civic engagement.
All action items may be viewed at http://www.k-state.edu/provost/planning/strategy/index.htm
Senior members of K-State's central administrative team will work in concert with college deans, department heads, faculty members, unit directors, support staff and other important internal and external stakeholders of K-State to develop specific initiatives to address action items for each planning theme. At the same time, the budget challenges that are being faced at the university, state and national level may delay implementation of some of these key themes and related action items.
The plan's overarching purpose is to guide the direction of the university during the next five years. The strategic plan is an important component of the review that takes place for the university accreditation process. That process takes place every 10 years with K-State set for reaccreditation in 2011.
"Accreditation is vital to ensuring K-State is offering the most relevant education it can to help students compete in the global marketplace," said M. Duane Nellis, K-State's provost and senior vice president. "It is a validation of the quality of education we offer, as well as an indicator of the outstanding quality of teaching at K-State."
A university committee to begin planning for the next accreditation visit will be established in the fall.
Nellis led the 2008-2012 Strategic Planning Committee, which was comprised of Roger Adams, Pat Bosco, Fred Cholick, Kelli Cox, Ruth Dyer, Lori Goetsch, Rebecca Gould, David Hartnett, Dennis Kuhlman, Lucas Maddy, Larry Rodgers, Bruce Shubert, W. Franklin Spikes, Be Stoney and Matt Wagner.
Photo: Timothy Williams Jr. studies in front of Hale Library. Strengthening the "teaching, learning and student life environment" is among K-State's strategic goals. Courtesy of K-State Photo Services