The Easterner

Strategic Plan emphasizes diversity, equity

Athletic+Director+Lynn+Hickey+and+Provost+Scott+Gordon+embrace+during+the+public+announcement+of+EWU%27s+new+Strategic+Plan.+The+plan+was+developed+over+almost+a+year+of+research+and+community+input+%7C+Photo+courtesy+of+EWU+Marketing+Communications
Athletic Director Lynn Hickey and Provost Scott Gordon embrace during the public announcement of EWU's new Strategic Plan. The plan was developed over almost a year of research and community input | Photo courtesy of EWU Marketing Communications

Athletic Director Lynn Hickey and Provost Scott Gordon embrace during the public announcement of EWU's new Strategic Plan. The plan was developed over almost a year of research and community input | Photo courtesy of EWU Marketing Communications

Athletic Director Lynn Hickey and Provost Scott Gordon embrace during the public announcement of EWU's new Strategic Plan. The plan was developed over almost a year of research and community input | Photo courtesy of EWU Marketing Communications

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

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EWU President Mary Cullinan officially announced the external launch of the university’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2023 at the Montvale Event Center on May 24.

A project headed by Chris Robbins, EWU’s director of strategic university planning, put a focus on expanding EWU’s overall presence as a university, as well as creating a more diversified campus.

The plan’s development was an intricate process taking over nine months to complete. Robbins interacted with over 800 students, faculty and community members to determine what needed to be addressed in the plan.

Robbins’ team also used SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, a tool used by organizations for strategic planning to gain further perspective.

The plan’s extensive list of objectives was narrowed to four categories: “IGNITE Change,” “EMBRACE Equity and Social justice,” “DRIVE Innovation” and “TRANSFORM the Region.”

Robbins oversaw the formulation of the plan and helped it gain momentum, but much of the responsibility now lies in teams of faculty, students and community members to prioritize and initiate objectives.    

“With teams that are represented all over the university and parts of the community, these teams are taking a lot of ownership in helping develop these ideas to help push forward university leadership which will help to the overall prioritization,” Robbins said.

EWU students can expect to see improvement over the next five years. The plan is extending the university’s outreach, not just to make it bigger, but to make it more diverse.

“[Diversity] brings a richness to Eastern that represents who we are,” said Robbins. “The university looks around and sees itself wanting to serve all students […] really, it’s the university in its mission is to reach out and to serve all types of students. It’s part of the core of who we are at Eastern.”

EWU seeks to create an enriched environment by targeting diversity from different angles.

By the numbers, EWU wants to see a 4 percent increase for entering underrepresented students, from 36.8 to 41 percent, as well as an 8 percent increase in their graduation rates, by 2023.

In the works is a Center for Social Innovation at EWU that will engage students in discussions of social justice to give voice to marginalized and oppressed groups.

EWU hopes to foster relationships with the regional Native American tribes to ensure adequate representation.

The university also seeks to become a Hispanic Serving Institution, which requires a 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate enrollment rate. This designation could mean federal benefits for EWU.

Strategizing outlined goals in the plan will take place over the next six to 12 months, according to Robbins. Overall, EWU is looking toward big endeavors.

“We want to see a dynamic university that is forward thinking, that is looking forward to the future, and is looking out there to see who we can serve, [and] how we can serve our community,” Robbins said.

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Strategic Plan emphasizes diversity, equity