Dean’s message: September 2023

Dean Dori Borjesson standing outside Bustad Hall on the WSU campus.

Here on the Palouse, people are making the most of those last moments of sunshine that follow the chill of morning air. Today I saw a student rise from the Bustad lawn where she had created a wonderful, warm space to study among small yellow flowers. She moved to give her space fully to the bees which had also laid claim. When I asked her about it, she said, “It is OK, they were here first.” True enough. I love the special kind of people that fill our academic community. Regardless of their role, our community attracts people who, by their nature (and job description), give to the greater good- teaching, academic service, veterinary medicine, ecosystem health, or a drift of bees.

I have been particularly grateful for our service-oriented community this past month as the college embarked on developing a strategic plan that will guide us for the next three to five years. In preparing for this, we called on many people to give their time and effort for the common good. It has been interesting work. We selected a process called SOAR—strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results. It is a powerful, forward-thinking, positive approach to strategic planning based on appreciative inquiry. Pre-work, led by a planning committee, focused on data collection and culminated in a day-long summit at the end of August. We invited students, donors, industry stakeholders, staff, and faculty to participate and, in the end, there were around 100 people who spent the day together in a highly orchestrated planning process. We also sent out surveys to alumni and friends of the college to hear your thoughts (and many of you responded)! Now the work continues as we sift through ideas to create our top strategic priorities and draft the plan with goals and action items. Spoiler alert: Priorities will include known areas of strength such as teaching and learning and research excellence. And there was deep and broad enthusiasm for priorities around community building, our land grant mission, engagement with stakeholders, and outreach that was palpable and exciting. Thank you to all who participated. Thank you to all who contributed their energy and ideas, even from afar. I look forward to sharing the plan and its priorities first thing in the new year. Wait with bated breath, and, until then, Go Cougs!

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