Walker addresses students about 10-year plan

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 at 4:27 PM
Walker addresses students about 10-year plan by Hannah McDonald
Photo: Hannah McDonald

Neither the promise of free lunch (build-your-own- nachos) nor the university update President H. Fred Walker planned to share brought students to Van Houten Dining Hall on Sept. 13. A three-person crowd gathered to hear Walker’s welcome back address.

The small crowd size led the president to do his presentation as a filming (for ETV), holding time for questions until the end, as opposed to the originally planned discussion with Walker and the attending students themselves.

This address was the second one of the week, the first having happened the previous evening. According to Fai Howard, the assistant vice president for academic success and student retention, the evening event on Sept. 12 was larger, drawing a crowd of roughly 20 students and community members.

The topic at hand was one that has been discussed many times before: the future of Edinboro University.

On Sept. 7, Walker announced the new 10-year plan for the university. His welcome back address to students was to share this message with those who may not have heard it before. “We have a great plan coming forward,” Walker said.

This plan is based on the information gathered by three working groups that were created in January. The focus of these groups were finances, academics and operations.

“These working groups were 15 people each group. We had a facilitator for each group. We had half of the group come from off-campus constituents and half come from on- campus constituents,” Walker said of the group makeup.

The groups worked together to develop a list of 33 questions that would be investigated. All of the questions and supporting documents are public. “Our goal was to have a very open and a very transparent process. And if you don’t have a credible process, then you’ll never have buy-in from the community,” Walker said.

This evaluation of the university, along with work done by NCHEMS — the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, a company based in Colorado that was hired to investigate the workings of the PASSHE system — are the foundation for the changes coming to Edinboro.

The array of academic programs offered is one of the largest changes on the horizon. There will be new online programs, program consolidations, and continued adjustments to faculty. Programs that are at high risk of consolidation are those with low enrollment. In regard to faculty downsize, tenure and tenure-track positions will not be considered. Edinboro is “more than liberal arts,” Walker said.

As a public, state university, Edinboro has an expectation to produce individuals who will help the commonwealth and economy thrive, he explained. The changes in academics are in favor of meeting this expectation. External forces, like local competition and future economic trends, are also influencing the adjustment of an array of academic offerings. It is not a choice based solely on enrollment.

Despite coming changes, Walker said students are still at the heart of the university.

“We need and want to focus all of our energy on ensuring that our students are successful,” Walker said.

Until the official plans come into action starting next fall, Walker is pushing for consistent messaging to the community and students alike.

Hannah McDonald is the assistant news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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