Brigham Young University's strategic planning initiative will be difficult but fruitful, university officials said in a faculty session Tuesday.
The process of openly discussing the university's goals and procedures will be the initiative's most productive aspect, said Alan Wilkins, associate academic vice president."(The questions) are tough, and it will be hard to go through this process together," he said. "I am concerned that we will become cynical and give up on the way."
But the fruits will be worth the work, he said.
"It is hoped and intended that we become a better university" through this process, said Jim Kearl of the economics department. Kearl is heading the accreditation and strategic planning initiative committee. He then outlined the steps and timetables involved in BYU's self-evaluation, announced Monday at the beginning of the annual university conference.
"The process begins with a fairly simple assumption that BYU should define its priorities," Kearl said.
Beginning with the start of fall semester next week, faculty and staff will be asked to join an open discussion about BYU's priorities and goals. Specific task forces will be assigned to define educational roles, gather and analyze data. Besides BYU personnel, the university may also call on alumni and local ecclesiastical leaders for input, Kearl said.
In January 1995, BYU will hold a mid-year conference to outline its priorities as settled thus far and discuss a revised mission statement. At that time, the university should be ready to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses as well as debate the environmental and value-related issues that affect it.
"The intent and purpose of this exercise is broad participation, open participation," Kearl said.
University officials also plan to discuss findings in January with the board of trustees, composed of officials of BYU's sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After discussing where BYU has been and where it stands, officials hope to have a document by February showing where the school is going. Enhancing the student experience, reaching beyond the Provo campus, better reaching and serving international students and new fiscal procedures will all be discussed, Kearl said. The various task forces will also consider any restructuring necessary within departments or the administration and will try to answer what types of students will attend BYU in the future.
"Who will our students be, given university priorities?" Kearl asked.
On June 15, the committee will meet with administration and board officials with the proposed strategic plan and financial investments. By Aug. 1, BYU's budget should begin to reflect its new priorities, Kearl said.
The accreditation self-study analysis should be drafted by mid-November and completed in January of 1996. Accreditation is in April 1996.
"I have a deep desire for (BYU) to be excellent, for everything about it to be exemplary," said Todd A. Britsch, academic vice president.
Echoing Provost Bruce Hafen's statements in announcing the self-study Monday, Britsch said the evaluation will underscore BYU's ties with the LDS Church.
"If BYU is to become excellent, it must be the Lord's," Britsch said. "We must accept the Lord's hand in all our accomplishments."