Story by Melissa Studach
The Drake Strategic Plan, a student-designed model created to sustain higher education, was presented at the 27th Session of Student Senate April 3, before electing a student who would play a vital role in carrying out the plan.
As the academic affairs senator-at-large, Olivia O’Hea has been shaping the Drake Strategic Plan since fall 2013, finding solutions to avoid the structural and financial problems that comparable colleges are facing.
“It seems right now, and this was a main concern with faculty and students, (the way to save money) is to raise tuition or make cuts to programming,” O’Hea said. “So these updates are designed to compose a middle ground between that so that we don’t have to do either.”
The five-year plan identifies communication and workload as the significant areas needing modifications within the university.
Cohesive work between separate on-campus committees and task forces is suggested by the Drake Strategic Plan to productively utilize funds, maintain accountability and improve communication.
The consolidation of committees will also decrease the workload of faculty and students.
O’Hea’s presentation notes that Drake’s enrollment, endowment funds and budget are all stable at positive levels, yet prioritizing the model is necessary to ensure an economic future.
“Just because we are a leader now, doesn’t mean we are going to be forever, especially with our peer institutions like Baylor or Butler,” O’Hea said. “We see that problems with tuition increases and cuts are really, strongly affecting them in a negative way, and we can’t avoid that forever.”
The Drake Strategic Plan will assure that all departments, big or small, are allocating resources efficiently.
O’Hea assures that rumors of cuts can be ignored because no immediate changes can be made until an April meeting with Drake University’s Board of Trustees.
Because the five-year plan is set to end in 2017, Senate faces the obstacle of replacing a key component: President David Maxwell, who is retiring in June of 2015.
“The biggest concern is making sure that the president who comes in is aware of the specific issues to Drake because it’s no secret that in higher academia, a lot of institutions are facing these problems,” O’Hea said. “But I would really hope that we would get a president who would not just know about the problem in general, but know how it applies to Drake.”
The 20-page Drake Strategic Plan handbook is available for the new president and others on the “Office of the President” page on the Drake website.
With the interview process for the new Drake president at the end of the semester, Senate is responsible for choosing two candidates to sit on the Presidential Search Committee along with 10 faculty administratives, who have yet to be announced.
The six candidates were offered three minutes to share their qualifications and why they wanted to be on the panel.
Selchia Cain received a majority vote to accompany Joey Gale, the Student Senate president-elect.
Cain, a junior public relations and magazines double major, promoted her “bottom-up” representation of the student body.
“Being a part of the working group has exposed me to the administrative arena of our university and the challenge of how to translate the mission of producing engaged citizens through infusing multicultural understanding into a campus culture beyond our 10 multicultural organizations,” Cain said.
She plans to talk with students to see what they want in a president as well as examine how the ideas of candidates will enhance Drake’s mission.
“As President Maxwell retires after 17 years to our university and being the president with the third-longest tenure in our school’s 133-year history,” Cain said. “I understand he leaves large shoes to fill.”