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BU asks for input on future

Nov. 5, 2010

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Baylor entered the community reflection phase of its strategic planning process this month, and on Wednesday launched a website that will soon enable members of Baylor Nation to submit their own feedback for consideration.

"We really are encouraging this month of November as a time of reflection," said Dr. Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost, who is heading the strategic planning efforts. "We don't want quick reactions. We want people to really think about the character of Baylor, where we've been and what we've accomplished in the recent past and provide some thoughtful input about where we need to go next."

Until feedback submissions are available on Dec. 1, Davis said members of the Baylor community are encouraged to use the website to become better informed about the university's past and how to plan for the future.

"There's a lot of information that's on the website that folks haven't necessarily thought about in terms of planning the next 10 to 15 years, given what changes are occurring in higher education and our economy and things like that," Davis said. "So we just want folks to have enough time to kind of get up to speed and then start providing input."

Student Body President and Houston senior Michael Wright said he hopes to see students participating in the reflection process, becoming informed and familiarizing themselves with the documents on the new website.

"I just would like to encourage students to rise up to the occasion and use this opportunity to make a huge impact on the future of this university," Wright said. "As current students, we've been asked to share our input, and it is a great example of shared governance in which students have the opportunity for input on a broader scale of the university decision-making process. I would love to see students utilize this opportunity to its fullest potential."

Between Dec. 1 and April 30, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the university will be able to submit their thoughts and ideas through the website.

Obtaining a broad level of input from these constituents will be important in making the strategic planning process as effective as possible, Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life, said.

"In order to truly create a strategic planning process that can be most effective in moving the institution forward into the future, you need as many of your best thinkers as possible providing input," Jackson said. "That's the whole notion of strategy. You want to get your best, deepest, most strategic thinkers to provide you with good information. And then it's out of that information that you'll see themes starting to emerge. And those themes then can begin to guide you in your planning."

Davis said getting input from the Baylor family will also help to facilitate wider acceptance of the final plan.

"The more people can feel engaged in a process, the greater the acceptance and the buy-in into where our next 10- to 15-year vision comes out," Davis said. "The goal is not to do it for buy-in, but part of the process is getting people engaged in what it means to be Baylor University and what is so important for Baylor to do, and we just want folks to have a chance to be a part of that instead of having somebody tell them what's going to happen. We want people to feel free to say, 'This is what I think should happen.'"

Input that individuals submit through the website will not be made publicly available, because it would be difficult to manage and upload the large amounts of input expected for public access and because there is not a system in place to verify who submits the input, Davis said. However, documents prepared by student groups, faculty groups and administrative offices will be uploaded for the public to view.