The framework for the new strategic plan represents a crossroads for the University.
The plan, which will define the University for years to come, seeks to develop the University’s future in four key areas: globalization, policy and governance, interdisciplinary work and citizenship. It will affect every aspect of the institution, from faculty tenure to residential life.
Students also have the ability to shape the outcome of this innovative blueprint through online forums.
It is essential that students take advantage of this unique opportunity and provide input during this critical stage in the formation of the strategic plan.
Students who hear about the strategic plan may feel that they have no reason to contribute and participate in the process, or that their input is not of value. And while the effects of the strategic plan will not likely be directly felt until current students graduate, it will have a significant impact on the future stature of the entire institution, directly influencing the value of a GW degree.
To help improve the quality of student feedback, the University can also work to make using the online comment portal more approachable for students.
The University created different portals for each area of the strategic plan, where specific questions about a particular topic in the blueprint could be posed. This would make it easier for students to provide feedback, as they could be primed to respond to a certain issue. Specific questions could also be targeted to students from different schools, allowing them to discuss issues most pertinent to their fields of study.
The University should continue to hold town halls with students, similar to the recent meeting about the strategic plan with Student Association leaders. These town halls could also be modeled on the outreach program that was used for the athletic strategic review, which garnered feedback from a variety of students involved with athletics, club sports and recreation health and wellness.
Students can voice their opinion on questions such as whether or not their abroad experience would have been enhanced if they traveled oversees with a professor, or if they had taken additional classes online.
And as the University looks to expand study abroad opportunities, those returning from a foreign country can provide insight into ways to improve or strengthen their particular programs.
It is not often that students have the ability to influence the future of the institution, and it is critical that the University’s most important stakeholders take advantage of this opportunity.