Before looking ahead to the new school year, let’s take a few moments to review some of what was accomplished last year.
Communications, engagement and achieving harmony through both were two of the many
topics that were discussed at this year’s UPC retreat in Bandera. The discussions
took place within the context of the Mission and the University’s Catholic identity.
A number of important questions were raised during our various discussions that pointed back to one main point: How do we manage our growth and stay true to the Mission and our Catholic identity? And a companion question is, “What do we do so that the student understands what it means to be Catholic?”
These are both crucial questions, particularly at this point in our history because of how quickly we’re growing.
In a presentation she made during the retreat, Sister Audrey O’Mahony, Assistant to the President/Mission Effectiveness, gave all of us much to think about on these questions.
She reminded us that unlike traditional universities that usually focus on just the intellectual development of the student, faith-based institutions like ours focus on developing the whole person – mind, body and spirit.
Sister Audrey also reminded us that while we are a Catholic university with deep traditions and a rich history, it’s imperative that we continue to foster an inclusive environment in which we help all members of the community – students and employees - grow in their individual faiths regardless of whether they’re Catholic.
Dr. Sandra Strickland, the Faculty Athletic Representative, made a detailed presentation about athletics at UIW. She also discussed the merits of whether we should start a football program at the University within the context of aligning ourselves with a new athletic conference.
You may recall from earlier this year that the Heartland Conference, to which we have belonged for many years, was in a precarious position that could have left it without an automatic bid to the NCAA post-season basketball tournament (a temporary solution has since been attained).
I’ve been asked repeatedly why we put so much stock in the post-season. The answer is simple. Our student-athletes work hard during the regular season for a chance to reach the post-season; without it, the regular season would lose much of its significance.
So last year we began searching for an alternative to the Heartland Conference that would balance a number of factors. These include stability, post-season opportunities, financial costs to us, and most importantly, limiting the time that the student-athletes would have to be away from the classroom due to travel.
Our goal for this year is to continue our investigation into finding a permanent resolution to the athletic conference situation with the above factors in mind.
After discussing several other topics at length, we left the retreat by deciding to focus on four general topics during the school year that capture the essence of what we want to achieve: Harmony through communications and engagement.
We initially developed nine strategic goals that would guide our planning through
a five-year period that started in 2003.
This year, we have streamlined those nine goals by combining them into eight, a move that eliminates overlapping language from the original nine.
In visualizing the goals, it may be useful to revisit a simple flow chart that we have utilized in the past:
Everything we do emanates from the Congregation, so by linking Mission with Vision, the eight strategic goals offer a natural foundation for the QEP, which is at the core of the SACS accreditation process as well as what we will do in the next three years.