By STEVE KNIGHT
The university will prove the Strategic Map to be a “living document” by incorporating a faculty-revised preamble and rolling out a progress report in mid-April.
Tom Evelyn, vice president of communications, said President Fox and others who have seen the revision agree it’s a more inclusive representation of our university. He said the university plans to officially release the revision with a report of the progress already made on the goals and plans of the Strategic Map.
Professor Baylor Johnson said faculty proposed several amendments to the Strategic Map, including one that “criticized the language of the document with no positive suggestions of how it might be improved or even what the specific problems were.”
Johnson said after faculty expressed their concerns and amended specific sections, he formed a group of six to eight faculty volunteers to examine the document’s language, identify weaknesses and propose solutions.
“It wasn’t just style,” Professor Richard Jenseth said. “It actually had to do with some key terms and concepts that are essential to our understanding of liberal arts.”
Johnson said the group inserted those key concepts into the preamble: commitment to diversity, support of faculty scholarship, and the importance of integrative and interdisciplinary learning.
Jenseth said the preamble was correct but incomplete without those concepts. “It didn’t fully describe how we see our work,” he said.
Another concern was the document’s focus on thoughtfulness. “Students don’t want to sit and think about things,” Johnson said. “They want to do things and change the world.”
Johnson said they adjusted how the preamble defined the purpose of our liberal arts education: “the core of our mission is critical inquiry” and ”the pursuit of knowledge and understanding for the benefit of themselves, humanity and the planet.”
These central tenets of the university, Johnson said, tell of students’ ability to ask “How do I know?” and “Can I know that?” He said faculty teach students to be thoughtful and responsible in those pursuits.
“The faculty take this document very seriously,” Jenseth said. “You know, the surrealist movement back in the ’20s had a manifesto every week… [This university] is much more reflective; this document describes who we are and what we need to be in the next decade.”