Safe Start Health Check
Written by Mike Thee
February 21, 2019
Image credit: Abel Fong
Coming off multiple days of snow closures, faculty and staff were greeted with a flurry of fora on the future and financials of SU recently.
First there was a strategic planning update for faculty and staff on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The following day, staff were invited to a listening session with Provost Shane P. Martin, followed a few hours later by a CFO Chat for faculty and staff.
Management Professor Jen Marrone and Vice Provost Bob Dullea are leading the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, a group of approximately 20 faculty, staff, students and trustees. A big part of the steering committee’s charge, Marrone shared at the forum, is to engage the campus in developing the strategic plan. “The process,” she said, "is equally if not more important than the outcome,” adding that a good process is fair, transparent, unbiased and seeks lots of input.
Dullea walked attendees through the strategic planning website. Of the timeline for the process, he said the committee was “working hard to maintain a constant balance between the appropriate sense of diligence and urgency on one hand, and thoughtfulness, planfulness, appropriate consultation and dialogue on the other.”
Members of the committee’s task force on engagement led attendees through a discussion on how to best assure that all voices are sought and heard in developing the plan. Stay tuned for more chances to weigh in.
In that same spirit of openness, Provost Martin invited staff to share their thoughts and questions in the Feb. 14 listening session. Responding to a question on the strategic plan, the first-year provost shared his hope that it “unites Seattle University under a shared vision.”
In response to other questions, the provost spoke of removing the barriers to student success, the need for more emphasis on staff retention and opportunities to improve the university’s infrastructure (as in processes and procedures). He addressed a projected decrease in the number of college-aged students expected to matriculate in the coming years and the impact the demographic trend will have on enrollment. He spoke of how “everyone who works here,” whether or not they are in a formal teaching role, “is a co-educator.”
Later that day Chief Financial Officer Connie Kanter, who is leaving SU on March 1, held her final CFO Chat for faculty and staff. Widely praised for her open and transparent approach, Kanter provided a summary of SU’s financial picture during her seven years at the university and a glimpse of some of the challenges on the horizon. She said that changes in the higher education landscape, including questions around the value of a college degree and calls for more accountability, have contributed to SU’s tight budgets in recent years. While net tuition revenue grew 62 percent from fiscal years 2005-2012, growth has flattened considerably to 12 percent from 2014-2019.
On a more personal note, Kanter, who has been named CEO of the Samis Foundation, spoke fondly of her time at SU and its impact on her life. “In terms of how I see others, I have changed in ways that I didn’t expect,” she said.
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