President Lyons sponsored a Strategic Directions workshop on January 18, 2006, for members of the four committees and her Cabinet. During fall semester the committees had been working largely in isolation from each other, despite the fact that many of their objectives were interrelated. The workshop gave Cabinet and committee members the opportunity to focus on "the big picture” and discuss ideas for involving more individuals, units, and programs in advancing the work of the committees.
The co-chairs of each committee presented updates on current issues and plans for the rest of the academic year. Three of the committees—Inclusion & Diversity, Internationalization, and Catholic Social Thought—are in the “discovery phase” of the planning process. Because the initiatives cut across USD’s traditional divisional boundaries, each committee is gathering information across campus about existing activities that fall within their domain. They are also looking beyond the USD campus to discover how these themes have been developed at other colleges and universities.
The First Year Experience task force, part of the Integrated Learning initiative, has completed the discovery phase and developed a plan to improve the curricular and co-curricular experiences of incoming freshmen. They are working with Julie Sullivan and Carmen Vazquez to identify an organizational structure that will support the implementation phase of the plan, scheduled to begin in fall of 2006.
Using information presented by the co-chairs, workshop participants divided into division-based table groups to draft individual action plans detailing how they could personally contribute to advancing the strategic initiatives. Members of each group shared their personal plans, and each group as a whole discussed how their divisions could contribute to advancing the strategic initiatives.
Beth Dobkin, Associate Provost and accreditation liaison officer, described WASC’s new reaccreditation process and how it differs from procedures used in the past. For USD’s last reaccreditation, the university conducted a year-long self-study that culminated in an extensive report given to the visiting accreditation team. Now WASC requires each institution to develop a proposal for reaccreditation two and a half years before the first of two site visits. The proposal should identify themes that highlight areas of particular institutional interest.
Workshop participants reassembled in their committees, with Cabinet members included in each, to discuss how the strategic initiatives might contribute to institutional themes for the WASC proposal. Because educational effectiveness is a major focal point of the new WASC standards, the committees also discussed ways in which the initiatives contribute to student learning.