BY KATHY FABIE
President Judy Hample presented her short-term goals for implementing a $25 million strategic plan, calling for increased revenue and enrollment among other plans in an address to the University of Mary Washington community last Wednesday.
From her podium on the stage of Dodd Auditorium, Hample sketched out a list of goals she intends to undertake within the next two years.
Hample was quick to caution her audience that these accomplishments would not be the responsibility of just a few people, but would take the efforts of many to be successful.
The UMW Strategic Plan, endorsed by the Board of Visitors this past November, is the result of a 10 month project involving representatives of the entire university community.
The plan’s executive summary states that it will “guide our efforts to maintain and advance the academic excellence, outstanding faculty, [and] commitment to our students… that have and will continue to define the university.”
Hample began by referencing the budget cuts at the state level that will result in UMW receiving as little as 20 percent of its budget from state funds by 2012. The budget shortfall means UMW and other state institutions will see increased reliance on student tuition and fees along with other revenue sources in the coming academic years.
Hample referred to the state budget outlook as a “depressing situation,” and said it influenced her decision to focus objectives in the plan that could be completed within the next two years.
Hample said additional revenue sources for the university could include the internal reallocation of resources where applicable, enrollment growth, multi-year tuition increases and a move toward the increased productivity and efficiency of business processes.
Also, revenue drawn from bond financing, public and private partnerships and private gifts will all be pursued as additional ways to pay for the enhancements, Hample explained.
Enrollment could be increased “slightly, over time,” Hample said, with an increase of about 100 students for the fall 2011 term.
Students listening to the address had mixed feelings. Senior Jonathan Shields said that he thought this year might be a good time to be leaving with so many changes, but “it’s also an exciting time with Eagle Village coming in.”
“It is hard enough to get into classes you need now so it is hard to see how they can find the money to have more classes and staff,” he said.
Hample discussed some of the “obstacles” facing the Strategic Planning Committee. As a result of its new University status beginning in 2004, UMW has additional obligations to expand education programs as well as specific credential requirements for faculty. She said these changes must be in place before the next accreditation review of UMW by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2013.
In looking at which specific areas to include in the short-term goals, Hample emphasized that she applied the same “filter” for selecting the final objectives. Each objective must “contribute to student achievement and success,” must “adhere to a standard of excellence established by the university,” and must “enhance institutional productivity.”
Hample’s objectives for the next two years include implementation of the Campus Safety Task Force recommendations due this spring. Other goals include a review of the structure of the University.
This anticipates the formation of a College of Education and a College of Business along with the existing College of Arts and Sciences. These, combined with the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, and oversight of an educational facility at Dahlgren may necessitate a university-wide system of governance.
At the request of the Board of Governors, the current curriculum and academic programs of the university will be reviewed for content and an eye toward new classes and programs that should be added over the next three to five years. Efforts will be made to increase the diversity of the university in both its student body and faculty and to increase the university’s national rankings.
Hample went on to say that she intends to pursue permission to build an additional athletic field which would ensure increased student access to athletic facilities.
The renovation of residence halls will continue and include enhanced “living/learning” spaces.
The audience reacted enthusiastically to Hample’s announcement that she will allocate funds to the university’s library function.
Assistant Professor of English Colin Rafferty echoed the audience’s sentiment, saying he was “pleasantly surprised by [Hample’s] support of the library.”
Asked about his reaction to the possibility of increased class sizes, Rafferty seemed optimistic that UMW will “continue to be an excellent institution.”
Rafferty cited his past experience teaching at a large Midwestern school where an increase in enrollment demonstrated that “schools can bring in large numbers of students and still function well” if the necessary resources are allocated.
Hample stated that, while the University does not have funds for the plan yet, part of the challenge will be to develop funding while proceeding with implementation.