By Cory Gunderson —

Students and faculty had a chance to participate in the Focus 2020 Open Forum on Dec. 2.  Focus 2020 is University of Wisconsin–Stout’s five-year strategic plan that is created to set out major goals and benchmarks for the university. The current goals are instructional models, applied learning and external relationships.

A subcommittee of the strategic planning group facilitated the presentation on current goals followed by feedback from the audience. The audience had the opportunity to brainstorm and suggest improvements or new goals that might be missing through open discussion.

In November, the first Open Forum generated substantial feedback from the student body. This type of event allows students, faculty and staff the opportunity to voice their opinion on the goals, changes and direction of the university.

Meridith Drzakowski, Stout’s assistant chancellor said, “We learned that it is important to continue to engage the students as we move forward with FOCUS 2020, both in understanding how the process works and in helping us develop action items associated with goal statements. We heard particular interest in being involved in the area of intercultural competency.”

The past open forums have been a success in cultivating discussion and goals within the plan. The subcommittee is reviewing all the data collected and considering adding goals for environmental sustainability and possible changes to adapt to fiscal climate. Both of these potential goals were developed through feedback data Stout community members provided.

“One of the values of our planning process is that every member of the Stout community including faculty, staff, students has the opportunity to provide input on proposed initiatives, and everyone’s voice is valued equally,” said Drzakowski. “Students provide a very important perspective on what is most important to them about their experience at UW–Stout, and we want to ensure that those ideas are reflected in our vision for the future.”

Stout is using this opportunity to build the relationship between students, the university and business leaders. The external partnership component of the proposal focuses directly on improving our education, job skills and marketability of our application-based education.

All members of the Stout community were also invited to provide their input through an online feedback form. The combination of feedback received will be reviewed by the subcommittee as they evaluate whether changes are needed. If you missed out on the Open Forum and want to learn more about Focus 2020, the “You Said It, We Did It” event on Jan. 20, 8 to 9:30 a.m., is in the Great Hall and all students are invited to attend. They will be outlining specific examples of feedback they received from the Stout community and what changes they made in response to the input.

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