Academic Affairs uses social media and public meetings to gather opinions

Alicia Balog

Students may now voice their opinions online to assist Provost Todd Diacon build a strategy to influence academics at Kent State for the next three to five years.

Diacon’s Academic Affairs Strategic Planning Committee is teaming with the Civic Commons, a website promoting civil conversations, to engage people in a discussion about academics.

Stanley Wearden, co-chair of the AASPC and dean of the College of Communication and Information, said the provost wants to hear from people involved in the university about issues that are important to them.

“In addition to using the plans that have already been done, he saw this as an opportunity to get some more public feedback from everybody engaged at the university,” Wearden said.

Town halls on the Kent campus

  • Tuesday, Nov. 13,

    White Hall

    10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 14,

    University Library

    10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Thursday, Nov. 15,

    University Library

    10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Monday, Nov. 19,

    Kent Student Center

    10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 20,

    Kent Student Center

    10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 21,

    Moulton Hall

    10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Monday, Nov. 26,

    Performing Arts Library

    10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Students, staff and faculty may go to the AASPC’s Strategic Plan page on Civic Commons and answer questions related to one of six academic-related goals — such as “ensuring student success” and “expanding research and creative endeavors” — that the committee is looking into.

“We want to know if students are happy with what they’re getting,” Wearden said. “We want to know how we can make things better in the future. Student opinions matter because they are on the front lines of education every single day.”

Daniel Moulthrop, curator of conversation and co-founder of Civic Commons, said students have significant impact on the future of the university by participating because the university doesn’t always know what resources students use or don’t use.

“It is a huge opportunity for [students] to help the university see where they’re doing things right, where they can enhance the things that are working and where they can stop doing the things that aren’t,” Moulthrop said.

Carey McDougall, associate professor of art at Stark Campus and co-chair of the AASPC, said those involved want students to participate in communicating and brainstorming new ideas.

“What our hopes — in terms of students interacting with this — is [not only] that they’ll share their ideas, but they’ll participate in the creation of ideas,” McDougall said. “I think the great advantage of Civic Commons is that conversations can happen and ideas can form, as opposed to … ideas being thrown into a bucket.”

The Academic Affairs Strategic Planning Committee is looking to:

  • ensure student success,
  • enhance academic excellence,
  • expand research and creative endeavors,
  • engage the world,
  • secure our financial future, and
  • develop our people.

Users must create an account with Civic Commons to contribute and use their full names when leaving a comment.

“That establishes a level of transparency and a level of civility,” Moulthrop said. “That is a key or cornerstone to productive dialogue. You can’t have productive dialogue if you don’t know who you are talking to.”

Users also have the option to vote on whether comments are persuasive, informative or inspiring.

Conversations will be open from Nov. 5 to Dec. 14. Civic Commons will then collect and organize the data into common themes and ideas.

Subcommittees will come up with recommendations based on that information, McDougall said. The subcommittees will then refine the plan by going back to the members of the university.

The committee will present Diacon with a strategic plan for how to handle academics at the university by May.

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].