Overall Theme Structure

The all-university Learning and Community Engagement (LaCE) Committee is charged with the coordination of the University Theme. Each year faculty and staff members are invited via email to propose a theme. The LaCE Committee reviews submissions and makes a recommendation to the President. The selected theme is announced to the university community in the Spring. Proposers assemble an ad-hoc team that spends a year planning theme activities and then implement them in the following year.

Theme years go through three distinct phases, as defined below. For details on implementing each phase, download the Implementation Process document (PDF).

At the end of the year, Theme teams are asked to prepare a Final Report (PDF) highlighting the year's activities.

Proposal Phase

University Theme proposals can be submitted by any group of faculty or staff members who have knowledge and interest in a specific topic. While theme year planning and implementation require both time and effort commitments from the theme team, they also offer a great way to go beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries and lead the university and community in an exploration of a meaningful topic.

Theme proposers are asked to define the following in their proposals:

  • Tentative title of the proposed theme
  • Proposers’ names, email addresses, and job title/positions at WSU
  • Brief description of the proposed theme
  • Rationale for proposing the theme
  • Relevance of the proposed theme to the WSU community
  • How the proposed theme can address each of the five goals of the University Theme
  • Additional goals specific to the proposed theme (if applicable)
  • Prospective partner departments/units/organizations on and off campus

Instructions and deadlines for proposal submission are included in an invitation email sent to All Employees.

Planning Phase

If selected, the theme proposers will be invited to participate in a University Theme training workshop in the Spring semester, where they will be given instructions on budgeting, university business processes, and general event planning. In the following Fall semester, the proposers will establish a Theme Team and plan for the Theme Year. Then, during the Theme Year, the Theme Team will implement the planned activities. The LaCE Committee, the Faculty Liaison for Engagement, and the Director of Student and Community Engagement, will provide guidance and support to the Theme Team throughout the planning and implementation phases.

Theme Year activities typically include the following:

  • Theme Year signature events to kick off, to enrich, and to conclude the Theme Year.
  • Events by a variety of committees and organizations on and off campus that are willing to collaborate with the Theme Team. For example, the WSU Lyceum Series, the WSU Common Book, the WSU CLASP Lecture Series, and the Frozen River Film Festival have collaborated with previous Theme Teams.
  • (Optional) A legacy project that has long-term impact on the university. Examples from previous Theme Years include the installation of a bronze sculpture water fountain of three otters at Lake Park in Winona, local sourcing of food at the Dining Hall, development of the Wellness Integration toolkit, formation of Winona Pollinators organization, and development of WSU inclusion and diversity policy recommendations.

Theme Year Phase

The Theme Team is primarily responsible for implementing the planned activities throughout the year.

At the end of the Theme Year the Theme Team submit a report that addresses the following:

  • How well did the Theme Year address the five University Theme goals?
  • What challenges did the Theme Team experience?
  • How can the University Theme be improved?
  • How were funds used?