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Students, alumni, faculty attend Strategic Visioning Summit

10/29/2013
Corrie Whitmer
Staff Writer

Staff, students and alumni gathered Monday in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex to discuss Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s future.

A draft of “The Vision for IUP’s Future,” composed as part of IUP’s ongoing strategic visioning process, was exposed to various IUP personnel. At least 350 students attended, according to IUP President Michael Driscoll.

“The strategic vision for a university is where we want to be, what we want to become,” said Michele Papakie, journalism department chair.

Papakie led the Strategic Visioning Project Team, which gathered the research featured in Monday’s summit.

Starting in February, Papakie and her 30-student undergraduate public relations course did research, developed a theme and came up with the drafted vision that was discussed at the summit, she said in an interview Thursday.

“Monday will be a day-long event when we run our findings past as many constituents as we can,” she said.

The event opened with an overview of the visioning initiative led by Driscoll and Timothy Moerland, provost and vice president for academic affairs at IUP.

Dr. Richard Morrill, chancellor and former president of the University of Richmond, gave the keynote address. He has written a book on strategic planning in universities, according to his page on the University of Richmond’s website.

Attendees then broke off into groups to discuss various themes addressed in the proposed vision. Since these discussions occurred simultaneously, each person could only attend one.

Driscoll, however, moved from panel to panel and said he found them all “really, really energizing.”

“I’m really pleased with the discussions,” Driscoll said in an interview during the summit.

SGA President Taylor Billman (senior, management) said the session he attended on “transforming students” included a “good mix” of participants, including undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, administration and staff support.

Julie Greenwalk, a nursing faculty member, said conversation in her session focused on the way that the Oak Grove and Sutton Hall form the center of IUP’s community but also how IUP’s community “expands and transcends borders.”

The panel on “keeping excellent education affordable” ranged in topics but focused on finding alternative revenue sources and keeping costs down, as well as on IUP’s ability to respond to financial difficulties.

“I don’t think we plan well; I think we react well,” said Nicholas Karatjas, economics department chairman, who attended the session.

While each session focused on different aspects of IUP’s vision draft, a number of themes emerged in the discussion. Some sessions spent time discussing whether IUP should continue to focus on western Pennsylvania or whether it ought to expand its focus to better include students from outside of the state and the country.

Another common theme was relationships, both those between IUP and alumni, students and professors and even IUP and Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Opinions on all of these matters varied heavily.

The sessions broke for lunch, and the day ended in a plenary session in which representatives from each discussion session described the outcomes of their session.

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