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WSU’s Next Chapter: What is it? Why do it? What does it mean to you?

What is WSU’s Next Chapter? 

WSU’s “Next Chapter” is the opportunity for us as a community to create collaboratively the vision and foundation for our future.  We have a chance to determine what we value, what qualities will continue to make us distinctive, and how we will move those ideas forward.  We are creating a roadmap for the journey ahead, and “The Next Chapter” will be our guide. As a part of this initiative, we are creating a framework to support innovative projects that guide the fulfillment of our mission.

The “Next Chapter” idea began as our WSU community worked on the Higher Learning Commission self-study report for our accreditation visit in March 2012.  We realized the logical questions that follow are—“So what did we learn from this process, and what happens next?” 

Therefore, building on last spring’s Presidential listening sessions, we held campus discussions this year in August and October with campus and student leaders to generate possible answers to those questions.  We began by asking people to address three key concerns:

  1. Given the changes that are taking place in our region and the world, how do we ensure that “we prepare our graduates to serve generously, lead responsibly and respond imaginatively and creativity to the challenges of their work, their lives and their communities”?
  2. What makes us distinctive and important to the citizens of Minnesota and attractive to potential students?
  3. If you had the opportunity to share one important thought or idea about higher education and the role of WSU in the future with the next President, what would you say and why would you say it?

During fall 2011, departments and programs worked collectively to create their own, more extensive documents in response to these questions.  The hope is that these documents guide departments and programs in their own strategic planning and provide ideas for WSU’s Next Chapter.

Why do this?

We became aware the HLC accreditation process could have additional benefits —1) we have a chance to get many people from across our community of learners involved in planning our future, and 2) we can set a vision and direction to share with our incoming new President in 2012.

We also have a rare opportunity to support creative ideas with funding to help spark the kind of initiative and thinking that has characterized past programs such as the New University/L21. 

What does it mean to you?

In January we will release a Request for Proposals for Next Chapter projects.  Please think about what you envision WSU doing, and being, in the next decade. We hope you will also think about people and programs with whom you could collaborate—if you had the support to do so.  Finally, please think about projects to support what is unique and effective at WSU, or projects to create new points of distinction for us as a community of learners. 

If you have additional questions about the Next Chapter or the forthcoming Next Chapter RFP, please contact a member of the Higher Learning Commission steering committee.