National alumni speak out

Strategic sessions planned in 12 U.S. cities

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Baylor alumni will come together to share their ideas regarding the university’s future at strategic planning community input sessions in 12 cities across the nation, beginning this week. The sessions will conclude in April.

“These sessions are a vehicle to allow folks to come together and as a group to exchange ideas with other folks who care about Baylor University and care about the future of Baylor University, and then to have those responses recorded and be part of the official input to the strategic plan,” Dr. Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost, said. Davis is leading the strategic planning efforts.

The first strategic planning input session took place Tuesday in Atlanta at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.

Sessions will be held Thursday in Waco and San Antonio. The Waco session will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of Cashion Academic Center. The San Antonio session will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Trinity Baptist Church.

“I’m really excited that we get to have the chance to go to a large number of cities where our alumni and other friends of the university live and really just listen,” Tiffany Hogue, assistant provost for institutional effectiveness, said. “We want this to be a really collaborative and inclusive process and part of that is us going on the road to hear from people across the country.”

In order to attend the sessions, alumni are asked to register online to ensure the venue is large enough to hold all of those attending, and to ensure that adequate refreshments are provided. However, alumni who do not register can still attend the sessions and give their input.

By Monday, 170 people had registered for the Waco session, necessitating a move from the planned venue of the Great Hall in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, which has a capacity of 120, Davis said.

“I am extremely thrilled by the level of interest that I’ve seen in these input sessions,” Davis said. “People are e-mailing me and calling me, thanking me for providing this opportunity, asking if they can volunteer to help. The response has been really affirming that this is a right thing to do as we are considering Baylor’s next strategic plan.”

Ashley Thornton, director for continuous improvement, said that since Baylor belongs to so many groups of people, from students, faculty and staff to the state, country and world at large, it is important for each group to be able to share its opinions concerning Baylor’s future.

“Each one of those groups it belongs to are going to have a different perspective on what we need to be doing for the next 10 or 15 years or even ultimately, and I think it would be hard for any one of those groups to totally understand or imagine what the other groups are going to care most about,” Thornton said. “So that’s why it’s important to get kind of a full circle of input from as many different stakeholders as we can think of that care about Baylor.”

Other cities that will be hosting community input sessions include Houston, Dallas, Amarillo, Lubbock, Austin, Nashville, Tenn., Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. These cities were chosen because of their large concentrations of alumni.

Dr. Patricia Tolbert, director of assessment and compliance, said seeking input from alumni nationwide is an important part of the strategic planning process.

“I think we have to do that. I think Baylor is such a national school now and we have alumni everywhere who still care very much about Baylor and are still interested in Baylor’s future, and as Baylor continues to build its reputation it enhances their degree,” Tolbert said.

“I think we need to make sure that we’re getting their input and let them know that we’re still very interested in what ideas they have for improving Baylor.”

At the sessions, attendees’ ideas will be written down, and the sessions will also be tape recorded and transcribed to ensure that no input is overlooked, Davis said. The results of these sessions will later be analyzed along with all other input gathered throughout the process, such as that given online.