Students attend strategic planning forum, brainstorm ideas for U.Va.

Forum garnered input from students, will consider opinions in blueprint for strategic plans

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee hosted a student forum Wednesday evening to garner input for what Senior Vice Provost and Steering Committee member J. Milton Adams called “the brainstorming stage” of drafting a blueprint for the University’s future.

The forum covered all topics addressed by the steering committee’s seven working groups: student life; synergy; technology; faculty recruitment, retention, and development; public university; resources and streamlining. A mix of faculty, alumni, students and administrators make up the working groups.

A key component of the brainstorming process, the working groups act as receptors to community members’ ideas, Adams said.

Attendees broke into seven discussions, each led by a working group member. After 20 minutes, they shared their ideas with the group.

Several issues brought to light were the University’s move toward online courses, the growing undergraduate population, and problems with mediocre student advising.

Some students questioned the relevance of the topics discussed.

“Sometimes I worry there is maybe a disconnect between … the actual issues that students are facing in their day-to-day lives and the kinds of things that we discuss at these forums,” third-year College student Sam Atkeson said. “You have these elusive people who decided these are the issues we are facing and this is what we need to do about it, but you don’t necessarily feel that those same issues are on the minds of students.”

It’s equally important that community members are on the same page — a condition that Graduate Education student Christina Mattaliano said is conspicuously absent at the University. “[It] interests me to hear … what [faculty and staff] think should be going on, and then to hear what a student actually thinks is going on,” Mattaliano said.

The steering committee’s “blueprint” will take student opinions from the forums into consideration when it crafts the University’s strategic plan, Adams said. In addition to Wednesday’s forum, each group will or has hosted an individual meeting to gather student input.

The steering committee will report to the Board of Visitors in February, and then again after graduation in May, Adams said. The final plan will be presented to the Board during their August retreat.

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