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Western plans for future, looks to ‘graduate students for 21st century’

Missouri Western is learning from the past to build for the future by establishing goals to move the university forward.

The strategic planning process is a way for Western to identify opportunities, establish goals and objectives to move forward in continuous improvement.

Associate Provost and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Cindy Heider said, in the current draft form, that employee, student and community input identifies three broad areas that may be the focus of the next strategic plan.

“Those broad areas include enhancing the educational experience, graduating students for the 21st Century and increasing and managing Resources. Additional input may change those broad areas,” Heider said.

Missouri is predicting a drop off in the number of graduating high school students in the foreseeable future, but Heider said Western’s high quality programs and low cost will be attractive and is not limited to graduating high school students entirely.

“While there is a predicted decrease in high school graduates over the next five years, we believe our high quality academic programs and low cost will continue to be attractive to high school students and their parents,” Heider said.

Heider also said that high school students are only part of the equation because Western has a significant number of non-traditional students and students returning to finish degrees. Heider believes that Western can continue to excel in meeting these needs.

Western has been expecting a drop off in enrollment numbers for years now, but that has not happened, and President Robert Vartabedian continues to hope it doesn’t.

“We have been anticipating a ‘drop off’ in our student recruitment and enrollment efforts for several years,” Vartabedian said. “Surprisingly, that has not occurred just yet, but we are still bracing for it. I am hopeful that this drop off in graduating high schools students has been and will be offset by some of the exciting things going on at Missouri Western.”

Missouri is moving toward a pay-for-performance funding model, but Western is not likely to be disadvantaged.
“I cannot predict state revenues, but I am certain that Western will work diligently to meet state performance indicators and be as eligible as any other public institution for performance funding,” Heider said.

“We believe that performance funding will not disadvantage Missouri Western,” Vartabedian said. “We contend that we have some very impressive performance outcomes that will be reflected in our share of performance funding.”

According to Heider the last part, and perhaps the most difficult, will be determining how to increase and manage Western’s resources for the future.

“Western may be exploring options to use its existing resources to generate income [lease arrangements],” Heider said. “We may need to re-think how Western staffs and operates its offices.”

Currently, steps are being taken to ensure that Western will continue to thrive in the next five years.
Heider said Western’s mission is to provide educational opportunities for citizens of the region, and they focus on that mission every day, striving to be better in serving our students and the region.

“We will continue to do this regardless of the current state on the Missouri economy,” Heider said.

Athletics Director Kurt McGuffin said the strategic plan covers a big broad base and one of those is to look at our student athlete wellness and how those needs are being met.

“Making sure that we provide everything our student athletes need as far as academics, weight rooms or strength rooms and just an overall sense of where the athletic department needs to go with the budget, customer service ideas and mission statements,’ McGuffin said.

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