Strategic Planning Open Forum Draws Feedback from Undergraduates

    The meeting opened with Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla presenting background on the strategic planning process. Afterward the attendees were asked to participate in a brainstorming session with Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Suresh Subramani to address predicaments that the university is facing, such as the high student to faculty ratio of 31-to-1 and its relatively low rate of alumni giving compared to peer universities.

    “I am a strong believer in shared governance, and this strategic planning process is about working together to develop shared goals and a unifying vision for the future of UC San Diego,” Khosla said in a statement about the town hall meetings.

    When asked about the strengths of UCSD during Tuesday’s brainstorming session, students responded with the organization of the six-college system and a balanced community. The topic of how to improve the academic and social experience on campus resulted in various ideas, from creating bike paths to increasing transparency between administrators and students.

    Raquel Morales, president of the University of California Student Association and UCSD undergraduate, mentioned her concern about the growing use of online education throughout UC campuses. “Online education may be good for the UC system, but it might not be the best for SD students,” Morales said. “The faculty needs to research before implementing these ideas.”

    The administration is currently in the beginning phases of collecting information that began in November and will finish in February. All the information provided by faculty, staff, and students will be presented to the senior administration and the vice chancellor’s cabinet to be analyzed. Reappearing suggestions will be added as a part of a final vision statement that will be released in early April. The first town hall meeting was open to all students and the next town hall meeting will focus specifically on graduate and professional students and will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. tonight in the multipurpose room on the first floor of the Student Services Center.

    Also in the meantime, the administration has created a variety of focus groups for specific topics. These focus groups will help address broader issues, such as diversity, student experience or research and educational experience.

    After solidifying five to 10 topics, smaller groups of people, such as department chairs, faculty, and student organization leaders will be invited to represent broader communities.

    Each unit will discuss with its respective vice chancellor its vision for a variety of criteria and what the measurable metrics are to determine whether the vision have or will achieve success.

    Once the final vision statement is released, the administration will begin the final phase of implementing the key aspects of each division.

    “Ultimately, it’s about the allocation of resources,” Subramani said. “We need to take the highest priorities and try to fund those first.”

    Subramani thought that overall, the forum was successful in garnering student input.

    “The range of issues covered was huge,” Subramani said. “Many students were not afraid to speak. There were students representing student leadership — president of this or that organization — so I feel like they’re speaking on behalf of the community at large, not only for themselves.”

    Hundreds of faculty and staff joined the chancellor and other administrators during the first town hall meetings last quarter on Dec. 6 and Dec. 10. University officials are seeking assistance from the campus community to tackle the challenge of increasing the quality of education and the impact and influence of UCSD with decreasing funds.

    “The planning process that we’ve initiated is bottom-up, inclusive and collaborative. Everyone will have an opportunity to share ideas and give input,” Khosla said. “Whether you attend a town hall meeting or you submit a comment online, I encourage all students, faculty, staff and alumni to get involved.”

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