Community talks seek university direction, goals for next five years

Mallory Johnston


The W is looking for opinions about where it should be heading in the next five years. 

The university is considering feedback from some of its most important people ─ faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders ─ as it examines the most important issues facing the school. 

A series of sessions titled the Universities Priorities Conversations took place Oct. 20 and 21 on campus and gave people the opportunity to voice their recommendations and ideas. 

"People were given the opportunity to talk about how they see the university's future," said Maridith Geuder, executive director of University Relations for the university.

"We've had a lot to build on, so now it's what are our strengths at this point?" she said. "What can we make stronger? What do we need to do to show off areas that are really thriving and growing and are successful?"

The university has established a list of priorities that have undergone a lot of work over the past four years. The priorities ─ graduating students, regional stewardship, being a 21st-century university and advancement excellence ─ can help guide leadership in the next steps for the university.

"You can't do everything at one time," said university president Dr. Jim Borsig. "Sometimes you have to do something before you can do something else, and so these conversations next week are to talk about the university, talk about what these planning processes on campus have suggested are the next steps for the university, and just get some feedback from faculty, staff, students, alums and community leaders about what those next steps should be. There's a university priorities committee that's faculty, staff and students that began work back in August and so this is part of the input, I guess to that group as they finalize what the suggested priorities are for the university to consider."

The University Priorities Conversations are a continuation of a program done much like it by a group based out of Pensacola, Fla. idGroup USA, who came to the campus in 2012, conducted a similar project with the campus with approximately 160 alumni, faculty, staff and community front-runners who were asked one thing: How would they describe the university, and how did they imagine it in the future? Hours of feedback and questions led to the idgroup USA forming common themes that would define Mississippi University for Women. These themes included, but were not limited to, the culture and history, uniqueness, social environment, experienced faculty and tuition value. People at this conference valued an emphasis on student life, feasibility of athletics and increased intramural participation, and provision of measure of quality assurance throughout the institution as key areas of moving The W forward in their status.

"It's not eh same thing exactly as a strategic plan, but it's to determine what priorities we should try to accomplish in these next five years," Borsig said.

Those involved in the conversations sat at tables in groups. There were two- and three-hour sessions beginning at 10 a.m. each day. The conversations were open to any and all faculty, staff, alumni, students and community members. Dr. Jim Borsig led the conversations with a summary as a starter.