Panel sets goals for new SASS setup

Technology, customer service and student life services will be the major priorities of a Student and Academic Support Services strategic planning committee as it draws up recommendations to present to the Board of Trustees this winter.

The panel, led by Assistant Vice President for SASS Special Services LeNorman Strong and including student and faculty representatives, was created earlier this semester after the division underwent a massive reorganization that SASS officials say will make it more responsive to student needs.

Dubbed by administrators as the “Troika,” the committee is examining the needs of different constituencies within the student population and attempting to identify priorities for funding and improvements.

“Our main focus is to look simultaneously at two important issues – what SASS is doing now . and at the same time get feedback from the University community about the perception of SASS and what students need,” Strong said.

Robert Chernak, the University’s vice president for SASS, set the strategic planning committee’s priorities at its meeting Friday.

“We should set an example for other units in the University that collective efforts can result in better decision making,” Chernak said. “A lot of issues this group will be engaging in are focused on what SASS is and what it should be.”

Chernak called the process “outcome oriented” and said he is excited about the chance to change the way SASS works with students.

“We’re going to have to make some hard decisions for allocations,” Chernak said. “We will adjust our needs in alignment with students’ wants.”

At Friday’s meeting, the committee pointed to technology as one of its first priorities.

Douglas Gale, assistant vice president for information systems and services, said the percentage of GW’s budget spent on academic computing is average for a university of its size.

“In our case, average is probably good enough,” Gale said.

He admitted that GW is behind the technology curve, adding that 76 percent of schools in GW’s “market basket” – schools with services comparable to GW’s and to which GW students often apply – have wired residence halls.

Group members had suggested other topics to concentrate on, which were merged into two larger subheads: customer service and student life services.

A Web page soon will be introduced featuring a survey that will allow students and staff to express comments and concerns about SASS’s involvement in University life.

Strong said the group will use the information gleaned from the Web site to help it choose priorities.

All meetings of the strategic planning committee are open, and participation from all University community members is encouraged, Strong said.

Strong said the committee will present its final recommendations in February.

“The recommendations, if enacted, will significantly enhance student life and increase the impact of the GW educational experience on its students,” Strong said.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.