You know what they say: “If you aim at nothing, that’s just what you’ll hit.”

To be sure it doesn’t miss the mark of fulfilling its strategic goals, Washington State University continually identifies the target: It defines, assesses, reports, refines and rewards projects that meet the four goals. Through hearing of these “success stories,” members of the entire university community can be inspired and informed about how WSU is doing and how they, too, can help target the goals.

In an effort to report progress more consistently, Provost Robert Bates last month asked university leaders to submit updates on a scheduled semi-annual basis. The first of those updates is due Friday, Jan. 30. From these he will issue a report mid-semester about headway made on implementing WSU’s strategic plan.

“Sharing our progress with the university community is an important requirement,” Bates said.

As part of the same overall effort, Bates late last year identified six university projects as “noteworthy examples of strategic plan implementation.” They were selected from many nominations submitted from throughout the university and were presented at the President’s Leadership Retreat at WSU-Pullman in November.

His list included:
1) Establishing the Center for Integrated Biotechnology in March 2003 under the guidance of director Mike Skinner. The center’s activities share a philosophy of cooperation across many departments, colleges and disciplines universitywide, thus fulfilling Strategic Goals Nos. 2 and 4.
2) Improving collaboration between the Office of Grant and Research Development (OGRD) and Sponsored Program services, as spearheaded by Director of Business Services/Controller Barry Johnston. OGRD helps faculty and staff secure research grants; Sponsored Programs Services provides fiscal and administrative support to faculty and staff after they get grants. This collaboration will improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, as outlined in Strategic Goal No. 2.
3) Expanding the effort to market WSU to prospective students who are high achievers. Mary Gresch, associate vice president of Strategic Communications and Marketing, worked to match what the university offers with what these high-performing students wanted. In the process, that unit advanced WSU efforts to meet Strategic Goals Nos. 1 and 4.
4) Improving evaluation and assessment of the teaching and learning process. Vicki McCracken, associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, led a coordinated effort with faculty and chairs in her college and the Center for Teaching, Learning andTechnology. Though these efforts address all of the strategic goals, McCracken said they especially pertain to No. 1.
5) Also achieving Goal No. 1 was a project headed by Ed Helmstetter, chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education. This project devised ways to evaluate graduates for their first two years in the teaching profession. That college uses the results to adjust its curriculum. (Please see related article on learning assessment outcomes in this issue on pages 1 and 4.)
6) Launching a coordinated project by multiple departments that assigned WSU students to residential halls based upon their majors. This effort established a learning community, comprised of students in the sciences, math, engineering and technology. It now is working to integrate curricula, as well. The project, led by Greg Crouch in chemistry, Denny Davis in biological systems engineering, and Matt Hudelson in mathematics, was cited for its fulfillment of Strategic Goal No. 1.
Bates praised all projects nominated and highlighted the six selected as “reflecting a significant amount of collaboration among colleges, departments and units, both academic and administrative.”