In the past year. St. Cloud State University has gone under what they call Strategic Plan Refresh, a way to revitalize academic curriculums to make the University adaptable to changing times.
While SCSU is working on revitalizing itself as a whole, the School of Public Affairs is one of the first departments within the University to start making changes to its curriculum, as they said they want to ensure students who are in SOPA get the best education the possibly can, aligning their mission as a school with SCSU as a whole.
On Wednesday, graduate students, professors, student government officials and former alumni all met at the SCSU Welcome Center to discuss the strategic plan and the schools future at SCSU.
Rick Osborne, College Senator for the School of Public Affairs said he thinks it’s a good idea to revitalize how they’re doing things right now and strive for improvements.
“It’s really a good idea to take a look at the core values because it really sets the stage for us at the University,” he said. “It’s a great thing to learn what’s going on inside the School of Public Affairs, just to see where we can go with it and figure out how we can represent the students and what they would like to see, it can benefit for years to come.”
Since the school opened in 2010, a strategic plan was implemented not long ago, but they said they really want to reestablish their core values. Some of these include:
- Maintaining Integrity
- Providing Experiential Learning
- Encouraging Life-Long Applied Learning
- Making academics student-centered
- Encouraging Global Citizenship
King Banaian, Dean for the School of Public Affairs said the process for the process for the first strategic plan was fully implemented in 2013, but a lot has changed since then.
“Four years later, we have a lot more experience of what our students are like, about what programs are working, how faculty are working together, it seemed like a very good time to go back and see what it is we should do now,” he said.
A big part of coming up with the core values for the strategic plan was stakeholder influence, meaning the student’s impression of the program and those who currently serve in it. They want to change some of the ways things function in SOPA to make it more student-oriented and figure out a level where they can be more involved in the department’s decision-making process.
“The students are the most privileged stakeholder,” the presenters said.
However, it’s not something that can happen overnight, as SCSU is struggling to maintain its student population, the United States is losing out – even with international students, a target demographic that makes up approximately 25 percent of SCSU’s student population, less are coming to America. Now, they’re finding places like China and Austrailia to be their primary host country. But those on board for the strategic plan want to encourage more opportunities for international experiences within SOPA, particularly with community engagement and really focusing on giving students a taste of what every day America is like, not just what’s going on in New York or Washington.
Another barrier for advancement presenters brought up was the treatment public Colleges and Universities like a business, rather than an institution for learning. Saying that Universities, in particular, are only looking at recruiting more students, increase class sizes and have them graduate from their institution and straying away from the focus of actual value on education.
Darla Hamann, a professor of Strategic Management for SOPA said she doesn’t believe there’s been any incentive for the school or the department to run programs like a business or an institution.
“We have a bottom line, but we are not trying to make a profit or graduating as many students as possible, our bottom line is our mission.”
This was only the first meeting for the strategic plan, two more are expected to come, but dates for those have not yet been released. Banaian said they want to fully implement everything in the plan in March of 2018.