WSSU Strategic Plan 2010-2015
The legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is unquestionably one of success. Institutions such as Winston-Salem State University have contributed significantly to the growth and persistence of the Black middle and professional classes. Nevertheless, as have many institutions in this country, HBCUs have been affected by the tremendous social, cultural, economic and political changes that have taken place over the past fifty years.
Two changes in particular have affected HBCUs.
- The civil rights victories that gave Black people greater access to higher education have steered some of the more academically prepared students away from many of our institutions.
- Rapid changes in science and technology have added workplace requirements entailing study beyond high school for most everyone. Today’s HBCUs must prepare more students with a wider range of academic readiness for a more heavily knowledge-based economy.
The Winston-Salem State University Strategic Plan is designed to address these challenges. The Plan’s five goals address the curricular, infrastructure and resource factors that we consider most relevant to successful academic outcomes.
At the core of the Plan are objectives designed to better align the curriculum with 21st century challenges. By infusing the curriculum with opportunities to build the knowledge and skills they will need to compete in a rapidly changing global economy, we intend to produce graduates who are ready for that challenge.
A similar focus on enhancing academic excellence is proposed for graduate programs. Investing in the development of faculty is critical to the success of an academic institution. The Plan therefore provides for recruiting and retaining an outstanding faculty and for investing further in academic support.
With higher admission standards and with the right support, we intend to see that every student accepted at WSSU can succeed after graduation. The Plan, therefore, includes objectives to successfully recruit, retain and graduate our students.
WSSU will work to foster greater collaboration with the community and to develop new services and programs to address community needs while enriching the learning experiences of our students. There will be a focus on leveraging the resources of the University to support local businesses and improve surrounding neighborhoods. There will also be an increased effort toward creating strong partnerships with local school districts to enhance student readiness for college and teacher preparation for our own students.
Efficiency, Effectiveness and Resources
Infrastructure factors that affect success come in all forms. High-quality administrative support is needed to reach our goals; accordingly, the Plan calls for development of an administrative infrastructure capable of delivering that level of support, by ensuring that staff not only have the appropriate skills and training but also are at levels sufficient to perform the quantity of work to be done. In addition, the University’s facilities must be conducive to the level of teaching and learning needed to reach our goals; accordingly, investing in the core of our campus and making sure that the latest technology is available in our classrooms has to be a high priority. Finally, to enable us to conduct business efficiently and effectively, the Plan calls for investment in our major business enterprise systems.
University Culture and Pride
Acknowledging that we cannot reach our goals unless we have broad support from our stakeholders, the University will seek to create and sustain an intellectual, collegial and diverse community that treasures its history, provides a supportive and safe environment, encourages the free exchange of ideas, and instills pride in the University. The Plan recognizes that in order to provide a transformative student experience, key programs such as athletics and student life must be provided. The Plan proposes objectives designed to facilitate communication around these and other issues, including shared governance and improved alumni engagement. In the end, however, the priorities of the Plan must inform and guide the decisions about the allocation of resources, broadly defined.
While the strategies outlined in the pages that follow are designed specifically for WSSU, the issues that are addressed can be found on other HBCU campuses. Mindful of the significant role that HBCUs play in producing Black college graduates, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and the Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, John Wilson, are challenging HBCUs to achieve better results in spite of their common set of problems – aging facilities, low endowments, insufficient financial aid, under-prepared students, and underpaid and overworked faculty and staff. Duncan and Wilson are suggesting that to remain relevant in a global economy, HBCUs must focus less on “surviving” and providing “educational opportunity” and become more strategic in order to “thrive” and produce better outcomes for graduates and the larger community.
HBCUs can no longer claim a monopoly on Black talent. As does every other university in this nation, they must compete for it, and if they are to offer viable educational options to our students, they must compete successfully against the other institutions that provide African American students with reasonable alternatives. This Strategic Plan calls for a major investment in the University to accomplish this objective, and defines for us the strategies to follow.