Strategic planning gets feedback

Dr. Gretchen Caughman, vice president of academic affairs and provost, and Lee Ann Liska, CEO of AU Medical Center, discussed the Strategic Planning Project on Mar. 24 in the Maxwell Theatre. (Photo: Skyler Mitchell)

By Skyler Mitchell | Staff Writer

Augusta University is planning a big change in how it is going to be run and university officials are looking for feedback before it is put into place.

Augusta University is currently going through a change in planning, which is called the Strategic Planning Project. The project is supposed to focus on changing things like education, economic development, research and clinical care. The plan is currently in its second stage and being put under review.

Students and faculty were encouraged to attend the town hall meeting on Mar. 24 hosted by Dr. Gretchen Caughman and Lee Ann Liska, which was held in the Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre.

Students and faculty asked questions and addressed their concerns on the Strategic Planning
Project. (Photo: Skyler Mitchell)

Students and faculty that presented during the town hall meeting were given small clicking devices that allowed them to give instant feedback to the general goals of each focus area. The meeting also allowed the attendees to comment live by a microphone to voice more specific concerns. The meeting was livestreamed for those that could not attend the event.

The goals for education are having a relevant curriculum; providing an environment to increase student progression; offering high-quality academic programs; and recruiting diverse and talented educators. While many agreed the goals for this plan were good, there were some interesting comments from those in attendance.

“I believe we should give students more ability to voice concerns,” said student Robert Scotland. “I felt like I didn’t have anyone on my side, when I tried asking my teachers questions and was told I was being disruptive.”

The second topic of discussion was research. The goals are fostering development of creativity and research through targeted education; enhancing research infrastructure; aligning priorities and services to enhance retention; and gaining new partnerships. Again, there was deemed excellent by those voting, although there were still some who believed more should be added.

Dr. Christina Heckman, an associate professor of English, said that, “I think we should add interdisciplinary rules [for enhancing infrastructure.] Student research has many problems.”

A study abroad student mentioned that, “These goals that you’ve shown us are very broad and should be more specific. We don’t really know what and how you’re going to change things.”

Clinical care was next on the list. The goals for this concentration is the delivery of value-based healthcare across the state of Georgia, advance a culture of performance excellence, encourage inter-professional collaboration, advance cyber security to protect patient information, and maintain a high-quality environment for patients. Widespread support came for these goals as well, along with several comments.

“I do like the idea of offering faculty the chance to do something other than just talk on the phone occasionally,” said Allie Newman, another faculty member who came to the town hall meeting. “However, we should promote creativity in clinical treatment as well.”

Outreach and economic development was the final topic in the town hall meeting. The goals are the expansion of partnerships as a catalyst for development; positively influence regional communities; and enhance infrastructure to help increase community service opportunities. This was the more divisive topic, with more people thinking that it was poorly planned.

Kim Davies, the professor and the department chair of sociology, argued that, “I think we can argue over what communities we serve. We should also define what community means.”

There were also complaints on how these communities were being represented.

“We should allow membership of these communities into the plan so they can get their say,” said an unknown student.

There is some debate on whether the feedback given will be considered by the university. Lee Ann Liska encourages students and faculty to give feedback and let their voice be heard.

“If you have specific comments on the goals, please go online,” Liska said to everyone in attendance.

If anyone wants to leave feedback or learn more about the Strategic Planning Project goals, go to http://www.augusta.edu/about/planning/2017_strategic_planning_process.php.

Contact Skyler Mitchell at skmitchell@augusta.edu.

Published on March 30, 2017 in Volume 59, Issue 4 of The Bell Ringer newspaper.

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