Strategic Goals for Illinois Wesleyan University: 4/15/05

Identity. Articulate a shared understanding of Illinois Wesleyan’s identity as a residential liberal arts college with professional schools and programs.

Rationale: Illinois Wesleyan has a distinctive combination of programs and resources, and it is important that we effectively articulate a consensus on how our programs interconnect to serve a common purpose and to fulfill our vision. To develop this consensus, we must first answer several questions, including: What is the ideal relationship between the liberal arts and the professional schools and programs? How should differing expectations for May Term be negotiated? What is the role of information technology at a residential college? How should expectations of faculty for teaching and research or artistic creation be clarified? How should Illinois Wesleyan balance its regional commitments and national aspirations? Who are our peer institutions?

Possible strategies include: organizing a series of campus-wide dialogues on the University's identity; studying internal and external audiences’ perceptions of Illinois Wesleyan’s strengths and weaknesses; strengthening the University’s already active assessment program; creating a comprehensive plan to communicate the University’s outstanding programs and distinctive features to all of its audiences.

Human Resources. Strengthen support for faculty and staff in their respective roles and create a community in which all are valued and encouraged to reach their potential.

Rationale: Illinois Wesleyan’s Mission Statement describes the University as “a tightly knit, supportive University community.” We recognize the critical importance of maintaining a positive working environment that allows such a community to develop and inspires faculty and staff to pursue the common goal of supporting the University’s core purposes. Through its own self-studies, the University has identified a series of recurring workplace themes--high stress levels, increased workloads, understaffing, a need for more orientation and professional development programs, tuition benefit inequities, and inconsistent communication structures--that should be addressed. We must seek ways to provide optimum support for all members of the faculty and staff in their individual roles.

Possible strategies include: identifying and addressing sources of stress that effect staff and faculty; improving internal communication structures; supplementing or allocating human and financial resources to make workloads commensurate with staffing; enhancing benefits, orientation structures, and professional development opportunities as appropriate.

Teaching and Learning. Augment teaching and learning resources to match our increased student body size, emerging curricular directions, and growing student expectations.

Rationale: One of the core values of Illinois Wesleyan is a commitment to improving teaching and learning. Our curricular ambitions and our students' expectations have increased in the past decade, and we recognize that additional continuing faculty and support staff are necessary to deliver our current curriculum. Both the Mission and Vision Statements identify areas for growth, such as globalization, social justice, and environmental sustainability, which have not been fully integrated into the curriculum. In order to effectively negotiate the demands of competing academic priorities, including such critical priorities as writing instruction, we also need a more centralized curricular planning process.

Possible strategies include: developing effective processes for strategic curricular planning; defining appropriate staffing levels to implement those plans; strengthening support structures for teaching and learning.

Student Development. Enhance the campus environment so as to foster students' intellectual, social, ethical, and personal development.

Rationale: Recognizing the essential role that residential life and co-curricular experiences play in students’ intellectual and personal development, Illinois Wesleyan invests time, energy and resources to offer comprehensive programs that help prepare students for life during and after college. The world for which we are preparing our students has become more complex, however, and both the capabilities and the expectations of our students have grown. These changes require renewed efforts to take full advantage of the University’s residential character so as to afford each student challenging yet supportive opportunities for intellectual, social, ethical, and personal growth.

Possible strategies include: evaluating and strengthening all student support services; improving advising; offering a richer set of residential options, including transitional housing; promoting co-curricular programs that deepen the intellectual climate on campus.

Financial Resources. Maximize Illinois Wesleyan’s financial base and focus the use of financial resources on supporting strategic goals.

Rationale: During the past decade, Illinois Wesleyan made remarkable strides in developing our physical plant, increasing our student population, and undertaking ambitious new curricular and co-curricular initiatives; this progress has in turn increased the University’s financial requirements. At the same time, the financial landscape has changed significantly: government financial aid assistance has shrunk, endowment income has fluctuated, debt service for new buildings has increased, tuition increases have outstripped inflation, and student demographics have changed. In this new environment, the University must maintain affordability for students and ensure the stability and effective use of its financial resources to fulfill its mission and meet its strategic goals.

Possible strategies include: increasing both the size of its endowment and gifts and grants for current use; continuing to identify ways to contain costs; seeking input from stakeholders on budgeting and resource plans; communicating financial information in as transparent a manner as possible.

Diversity. Increase and Sustain Diversity among Students, Faculty, Staff, Administrators, and Trustees: With a special focus on attaining “critical masses” from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, create a welcoming, inclusive, multicultural campus where all community members appreciate and respect the diversity of the nation and the world.

The educational benefits of a diverse campus are significant; such an environment enriches the content of the curriculum, enlivens interactions in the classroom, and prepares Illinois Wesleyan graduates to enter a world in which understanding and appreciation of diversity are increasingly demanded. The “Multicultural Study Group Report” (July 2003) notes, too, that: “Although we live in an individualistic society, that society has egalitarian goals that demand [that] all have the opportunity for an outstanding education.” (p. 5). This point was further articulated by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in a 2003 United States Supreme Court decision on affirmative action in college admissions: “Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized…[T]o cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.” The message is clear: not only do we have an ethical and social responsibility to make an IWU education accessible to students with a wide range of experiences, viewpoints, cultures, and backgrounds, but unless we become a more diverse campus, Illinois Wesleyan’s legitimacy as an institution of higher education will be challenged, and we will suffer institutionally for failing to tap into an increasingly diverse talent pool.

The Illinois Wesleyan community recognizes that the time to act is NOW: a wealth of research on diversity nationally and globally complements reports on diversity at Illinois Wesleyan, all of which should serve as guides for planning. The University community also recognizes that achieving this ambitious goal will require the same determination and commitment of resources that were required to build a world-class library.