VOLUME 12, NO. 1 JUNE 1998
Whither WPI? Cast Your Vote!
his fall, the WPI community will have the opportunity to help shape the future of the University - and have some fun, too. The Planning and Implementation Committee (PIC), made up of faculty members, staff and students, has spent the past year crafting several strategic initiatives designed to help transform WPI into a world leader among small technological universities by the year 2010.
But before the committee makes its final recommendations to the community and the Board of Trustees, it wants to find out how you think WPI should invest in its future. This summer, subcommittees made up of faculty members, staff and students are evaluating and fine-tuning the PIC initiatives and assigning each a price tag. When the polished and "costed" initiatives are complete, PIC plans to create an interactive system on the World Wide Web that will enable members of the greater WPI community to cast their votes for the proposals they believe would make the wisest investments.
"We hope this process will give us a sense of how various elements of the WPI Community - students, faculty, staff, alumni - view the University's priorities."
"Each voter will start with a pool of money that approximates the funds WPI may raise through its next campaign, funds available from the operating budget and endowment earnings, and so forth," says David Cyganski, professor of electrical and computer engineering and PIC chair. "Voters can continue selecting initiatives until they use up all of the money. We hope this process will give us a sense of how various elements of the WPI community - students, faculty, staff, alumni - view the University's priorities."
The initiatives voters will evaluate were developed by synthesizing recommended actions contained in the final reports of 13 task forces appointed last year by the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. SPSC began the process of framing a new strategic plan for WPI during the 1996-97 academic year by composing a vision statement for the University and laying out eight draft goals (see WPI Journal, Fall 1997). PIC was appointed in the fall of 1997 to continue the planning process by developing strategic initiatives and plans for their implementation.
According to PIC member John Zeugner, professor of history, the final initiatives developed by the committee constitute "three giant leaps to lift WPI to a new level, three necessary steps, and four beacon experiments."
Graduate education and research
To enhance the vitality of the educational experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels, WPI would enhance its graduate research program and integrate research and education throughout the curriculum. Specific investments would include lab construction and renovation, undergraduate and graduate fellowships, seed funding for new faculty research, and hiring targeted, internationally renowned researchers.
To assure that it retains its leadership in global technological education, WPI will expand and enhance its global projects program. Investments would include extending the global focus into graduate education, research and continuing education and creating a "global virtual classroom" to bring the world to WPI and vice versa.
Educational development, technology and assessment
The cornerstone of this initiative is a new center to help faculty members become better teachers, to assess the efficacy of WPI's educational and project programs, and to study and promote the use of technology in teaching and learning at WPI.
The necessary steps:
- Enhance Gordon Library and its electronic connectivity, including a possible addition to the building and an endowment to support library resources and services.
- Expand WPI's commitment to continuing education by establishing the College of Continuing Studies, which would offer credit and noncredit course work.
- Bolster WPI's outreach to the public schools by hiring a coordinator to expand student projects focusing on K-12 education and developing new teaching modules and outreach programs for schools.
The beacon experiments:
- Project 2000 would test a new way of living and learning in new residential communities that would bring together students, faculty and tutors, and expand upon WPI's innovative project-based educational program.
- A new commission would review expectations, rewards and incentives for faculty and staff members to assure that they will support WPI's evolving roles and other strategic goals.
- A one-time commission would reassess the goals and expected outcomes of WPI's project-based curriculum.
- A board would review proposals for new academic programs; an endowed fund would provide start-up funds for programs that advance WPI's mission, fulfill the interests of current and prospective students, and address emerging societal problems.
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