University looks to community for input on values and guidelines

USF is hosting community listening sessions surrounding their values and guidelines. GRAPHIC BY DANA CAPISTRANO / GRAPHICS CENTER.

Lucia Verzola

Staff Writer

In furthering its efforts to provide a reworked foundation for the University, USF’s Strategic Planning committee recently released its Guiding Values and Strategic Guidelines. The values and guidelines were created as recommendations to the University’s mission and values while acting as a base to hold the school accountable. However, these terms are only the beginning. The University began listening sessions on Nov. 9 to give the opportunity for those across the campus community to give direct feedback to the committee. 

The core strategic planning committee is co-led by interim Vice Provost Pamela Balls Organista and Vice President of Development Peter Wilch and composed of those in leadership positions from various University departments. These departments include Strategic Enrollment Management, the College of Arts and Sciences, Center for Institutional Planning and Effectiveness, marketing and communications, student life, athletics, the School of Management, and the faculty association. After the initial definitions of the values and guidelines were established, the committee recognized the need for the planning process to be driven by all in the USF community. 

“This isn’t something that should be done by outside consultants. It shouldn’t be done just by administrators on the Hilltop. And it shouldn’t be done just by a few faculty members who happen to be on the committee,” Jeffrey Paller, a committee member and assistant professor of politics, said. “[The values and guidelines] will only be successful if community members feel like they have a stake in it and help create it. And in the long term, this should be driving important decisions that are made in our school.”

Listening sessions began with undergraduate students and are also being offered for graduate students, part-time faculty, and technical and clerical staff. This week, sessions will be held for full-time faculty and librarians. A final general session will be offered Dec. 1 for those who were unable to attend their designated session. Those who are unable to attend a live session can provide feedback through an online survey

Organista feels the uncertainty of the world right now necessitates a strategic plan for the University. “We’re dealing with some really harsh realities, and as you’re making your way through a crisis, we want to be very thoughtful about how we move ahead,” she said. “We need to have a plan that’s flexible and recognizes that we are not going to be at the same place, hopefully, next year as we are this year, or two years from now. A good plan is one that really has that kind of flexibility and adaptability to it, that recognizes that we’re moving, we’re growing, we’re living through different times in the life of the University.” 

These listening sessions are the beginning of the strategic planning committee’s projected timeline. They will continue to adjust the guidelines and values as they receive further feedback. From January through April 2021, they will plan review, outcomes, and execution of the plan.  The committee will work toward finalizing the plan with the Board of Trustees and implementing it from May to September of 2021.  

“We are living through a moment in time that hopefully will lead to a good moment in time,” Organista said. “A better moment in our institution that will be held together because we’re holding each other together and thinking together as a community.”

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