Thursday, October 27, 2011

SMU plans for future

By Emma Stenzel
Managing & Advertising Editor

The Saint Mary’s University Strategic Planning Committee began planning early October for the future of the university and its students, staff and faculty.

Brother William Mann, members of the President’s Cabinet, the committee’s co-chairs and 40 of SMU’s faculty and staff from both the Winona and Twin Cities campuses met with Patrick Sanaghan, consultant on strategic planning, to learn various methods of gathering data from university stakeholders.

Brother Patrick Conway, co-chair of the committee and assistant professor of education and interdisciplinary studies, said that the committee will divide in pairs and gather stakeholder data. This includes thoughts and opinions from current and prospective students and parents, current and retired faculty and staff members, SMU alumni, diocesan officials, civic leaders, post-secondary high school counselors and the Board of Trustees. The committee will use its findings to determine long-term university goals.

“This process is going to be very transparent, so once data is collected, it will be posted online all along the way,” said Brother Patrick.

The committee has established four specific data gathering “designs” which they will use to communicate with SMU stakeholders, focusing on past university accomplishments; current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; feedback retrieved through stakeholder interviews; and comments received regarding the university’s future timeline.

Brother Patrick said that the opinions of the university’s stakeholders are crucial in determining how SMU will grow, develop and thrive in the future.

“It’s a collaborative effort,” said Brother Patrick. “The stakeholders’ voices will be heard. I believe that people will be excited and willing to take ownership because they will be a part of this.”

Brother Patrick said that October’s assembly was the first of five meetings to be held during the 2011-2012 academic year. Once the committee gathers its data, it will meet again in December to evaluate the results and assess the issues and trends that SMU could be confronted with in the future. It will meet in February and March to determine its vision and goals before the committee presents to the Board of Trustees in May and June.

“SMU has a wonderful story and we hope to get that story out,” said Brother Patrick. “We need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we get that story out to the public?’ That’s one thing I’d like to know.”

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