The Division of Student Life announced it has begun an extensive evaluation of its vision, productivity, unity, and principals. The initiative, called Shared Vision, focuses on creating a cohesive understanding and development of how the division will function in the future.
“We’re in the process of really putting together a shared vision where, as a division, we will really come together and talk about how the future of higher education is such that we will have to do a lot more with less. It’s just a reality,” Vice President and Dean of Students Bryan Coker said. “When you are having to do more with less you really have to focus…. It’s really our way of saying: ‘How do we focus for the future and on what do we focus?’”
Coker explained that since the Division of Student Life includes many diverse departments, such as the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Students, Athletics and Physical Education Department, Career Development Office, Chaplain/Religious and Spiritual Life, Office of Community Living, Office of Multicultural Student Services, Office of Student Engagement, and Student Health and Counseling Center, they need to come together and focus on where they see the division going and how they can improve and work together as the landscapes of liberal arts colleges are changing.
“[We will] really look at what we do well, what can we do better, and when people think about the future of Goucher, the future of higher education, what do they think we need to be focusing on in student life, what are they most concerned about?” Coker said.
One of the outcomes of the initiative will be to consolidate or re-evaluate the various departments’ programming since budgeting will be tight for the foreseeable future.
“Our budgets aren’t going to get bigger; in some cases they might get smaller,” Coker said. “Therefore, what are our priorities? And through the shared visioning processes, a big part of it is identifying big picture priorities, and based on those priorities, we decide where we put our money and where we are not putting our money.”
In addition, according to Coker’s email to the Goucher community on April 21, the shared visioning process plans to reorganize, unite the division, “to question and challenge current ways of thinking, as well as our traditional approaches, … to assess our integrative and collaborative efforts across the campus community, and identify additional opportunities for integration and collaboration.”
The Shared Vision initiative has two teams of 10-15 Student Life staff members. The first team, headed by Assistant Dean of Students Andrew Wu, is gathering data and feedback from inside the Division of Student Life. Wu’s team has already conducted surveys and focus groups of the more than 60 staff members of the division. Traci Martin, the director of the Career Development Office, is heading up the external team, which gathers data and feedback from students, faculty, and staff outside the Division of Student Life.
The external team has already sent out surveys and plans to have focus groups next fall. Once Goucher’s next president, Jose Bowen, takes over the position this summer, Coker plans to present him with the data and feedback the teams received from the community. By next fall or early spring semester, Coker hopes to have a development process and then a year from now, he hopes to have the process in place.