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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Planners Discuss Goals

On Monday, March 10, 2003 the University Planning Council held the first open meeting to inform the University community and to be informed by the University community on goals and issues at UMB.

In November of 2002 Chancellor Jo Ann Gora formed the council, giving them instructions to provide a University priority and actions guide plan for the next five years. The main objective, mentioned many times throughout the meeting, was to take action instead of “just talking.” Chancellor Gora’s initial presentation to the council clarified a few basic assumptions 1) the student body will not grow in size, 2) the diversity on campus will be maintained or increased, and 3) the state financial resources will not grow.

Peter Langer led the meeting by introducing various speakers and acting as mediator during the discussion section. He referred to an e-mail that was distributed throughout the University that mentioned goals, but no action plans to meet the goals. First to speak was Provost Paul Fonteyn, chair of the council. He mentioned that a closed meeting had been held by the council members prior to the open meeting to discuss “what should be presented and not presented.”

Next to speak, and by far the most organized with a 3-page document describing her goals, was Vice Provost Theresa Mortimer. The vice provost is the chair of group 1, the Strategic Planning Sub-group on serving the students, which can be broken up into 3 main goals: 1) fostering an appropriate learning environment, 2) sustaining a challenging curriculum for the academic programs, and 3) campus life.

The vice provost was careful to mention that with her group of 27 individuals, “we know we don’t have the best ideas for the whole University,” but they tried to think of global issues. She wants to identify what students need to learn, and develop criteria for an action plan.

Within her 3 page document, each goal has 4 to 6 objectives with 2 to 6 action plans to meet each objective. In particular the group is in support of learning beyond the traditional classroom and plans to increase internships and co-op placements in addition to increasing partnerships between academic programs and external institutes.

Also, the group would like to improve the “physical environment and material resources for learning.” The actions for this plan are to “develop a comprehensive master plan for the physical environment that serves the academic and social needs of the university’s communities [and to] establish better integration of library and information technology usage.”

An action plan towards improving campus life is the construction of residence halls “designed to house undergraduate and graduate students.” A concern voiced later during discussion was the use of these for out-of-state academic achievers. Paul Fonteyn was quick to point out that this “was not a goal” and that this was something the media had created.

Other action plans described to improve campus life are to “provide everyday services, such as a bank, a dry cleaner, hair salon, and a restaurant.” In addition, they described adding “fun locations, such as a coffee house, a TV lounge, a movie screening room, and a beach.”

A common theme in both the vice provost’s speech and document describing the goals of her group is the concept of collaboration and communication. She stressed the importance of various departments working together towards the greater good of the University. An audience member inquired about the connection between CURE, Council of University on Revenues and Expenditures, and the University Planning Council, to which Provost Paul Fonteyn was quick to reply, being connected with both, that they will collaborate and coordinate the efforts.

A common theme for the entire meeting was the notion of 3 peaks of a crown for UMB; the first two peaks being Environmental Studies and Public Policy. The meeting was opened for discussion by asking the audience what the third peak should be. Suggestions for the third peak were as specific as the Beacon Leadership Program by Heather Dawood and as broad as “Urban Mission” by Professor Rob Beattie.

Another suggestion from the audience was formulating a method of cultivating new faculty leaders. A gentleman mentioned that within a few years “many of us will be gone.” Much of the audience seemed to agree with the idea, yet no specific actions were revealed.

By far, graduate student Tanya Anderson made the most thundering statement of the entire meeting: “We need to practice what we teach.” By stating that Environmental Studies is a peak in the crown, it is imperative that the University have more green design and practices. She went on to illustrate how this type of integration would attract active motivated students. The finale of her speech was the applause of support from the audience – the only applause given.

The University Planning Council has a discussion forum available from the “Strategic Planning” shortcut off of the UMB home page.