April 18, 2011
Present: Dick Wilson, Trey Short, Dan Klotzbach, Michael Thompson, Joerg Tiede, Lynda Duke, Mike Young, Dan Terkla, Tony Bankston, Bob Murray, Jenny Hand, Michael Seeborg, Kathy Cavins-Tull, Jerry Olson, Steve Lessaris. By telephone: Kathy Larey-Lewton, John Jordan.
President Wilson convened the meeting at 12:02 p.m. He mentioned that the notes from the April 4th meeting were sent out and approved electronically, so no further action is needed. He stated that there are two main items on the agenda for today: continuing the discussion on the Identity Goal update from the last meeting and an update regarding the Human Resources Goal, which had been distributed via email.
Identity Goal Update (continued)
Unfortunately, Matt Kurz was unable to be at this meeting. However, President Wilson presented the information from the PowerPoint previously distributed. Beginning with the slide entitled Communication Priorities, he noted that there were two emerging priorities: delivering our core messages in a consistent manner and focusing on outcomes, especially alumni success. He hoped that University constituencies would be informed about our priorities through concerted communication efforts, especially the University webpage and the IWU Magazine. He also noted that one of our biggest successes in internal communication has been Campus Weekly, to which several Committee members agreed.
Moving forward, special attention will be given to the following initiatives:
• Coordination and timing of existing publications
• Continue upgrades to the University website
• Enhance social media presence
• Continue to strengthen publications and visual identity
• More proactive communication with media relations, especially locally
• Improve visibility locally
One Committee member asked about the make-up and function of the Advancement Working Group (AWG). President Wilson replied that the AWG is a group of administrators who have external contact as part of their responsibilities. They serve as his advisory group on issues such as how to increase the University’s visibility. A short discussion ensued about ways to enhance such efforts in the local community.
A Committee member observed that one of the earlier slides in the Identity Goal presentation had noted that the University’s website was not up to par with some of our peers. It was noted that issues related to IWU’s website were part of the Lawlor Group’s initial identity assessment during the 2006-2007 academic year and that many changes and upgrades had occurred since that time in both print-and electronic-based formats (e.g., website, recruitment brochures).
Discussion turned to the new Content Management System, which is slated to be operational August 1, 2011. Trey Short noted that it should be much more user-friendly than the current system and will allow for improvements in a timelier manner.
Mike Young indicated disappointment that we had not had a longer conversation about what our identity is. He wondered if the identity goal statement that we are to “Articulate a shared understanding of Illinois Wesleyan’s identity as a residential liberal arts college with professional schools and programs” was a decision to dodge or finesse the fact that we are not purely a liberal arts institution. During his career at the University, it seemed like the emphasis was on the professional programs and that the College of Liberal Arts was viewed as existing to serve the needs of those programs. President Wilson assured him that the statement in our core message structure (i.e., “Distinctive curriculum with liberal arts focus and strong professional programs”) was how he viewed the University and that it was an attempt to bring the two together in a way that recognized our distinctiveness. Young indicated that he was pleased to see this shift.
President Wilson asked Student Senate President Steve Lessaris if, from a student perspective, there were any surprises in the report. He indicated that there were no surprises but that he has been very conscious of the attempt to call attention to successful alumni on the website and in publications and viewed this as a positive initiative of the University.
President Wilson asked if there are any suggestions for Matt Kurz regarding future priorities for the Identity Goal. One member noted that there is a need for University Communications to reach out to departments and help with writing press releases for significant student projects.
The Committee also discussed the use of the graphic developed to present Strategy D Core Message Structure (separate PDF enclosure). Several members stated that perhaps the graphic could be featured in more of our publications or become more like our current wordmark as a visual identifier. This could improve our communications concerning our “liberal arts focus” with all constituencies, but especially with our students. Students are often under pressure from their parents to be career-focused. Sometimes learning for its own sake is not on their radar screen. At times, students don’t feel comfortable bringing something they have learned from one class into another discipline, the antithesis of the liberal arts. It was also noted that the general education requirements are often viewed as a checklist or a set of requirements to “get out of the way” and it is not until they are alumni that the value of their liberal arts education is recognized. Some Committee members suggested changing “general education requirements” to something more appealing, such as “liberal arts distribution requirements.” This may facilitate changes in perspective regarding the intent and value of these courses in an IWU liberal arts education. On another note, Steve Lessaris suggested that the foundation of IWU’s core message structure, “Engaging and Welcoming Community” be substituted for “Tradition of Academic Excellence.” In his opinion, the University’s academic excellence is a significant contributor to our strength of community, as well as the other core message components. The Committee will take the suggestion under consideration.
President Wilson noted that the meeting time had elapsed. The Human Resources Goal update would have to wait until the first meeting in the fall. He extended his gratitude to outgoing Committee members for their service on the SPBC. In addition, President Wilson noted that there were no looming crises on the enrollment, budget, or fund-raising fronts. He is as hopeful for the University as he has been since he began his tenure as President.
The meeting adjourned at 1:22 p.m.
Distributed to all faculty and staff on July 26, 2011