As he marked the beginning of his third year as Columbus State University president, Chris Markwood told approximately 700 faculty and staff members Monday that he is “more excited than ever about our future because of all the great things happening on this campus and in our community.”
Next year will be the institution’s 60th anniversary, Markwood noted.
“I believe we are on the verge of something extraordinary,” he said during the Lumpkin Center luncheon, welcoming back the faculty and staff as they prepare for next Monday’s start of the 2017 fall semester. “From the state leadership in Atlanta, to unparalleled community support, to the magic happening in our classrooms, everything seems to be lining up for Columbus State University to shed its expired label as just a ‘local’ university.”
The comments he receives from folks outside Columbus amount to this assessment, Markwood said: “I can assure you Columbus State University is held in very high regard. Our faculty makes us experts. Our staff makes us proficient. Our community makes us envied. Our supporters make us reach. Our alumni make us proud. And our students make us try harder every day.”
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To that end, Markwood asked the faculty and staff to ask themselves, “Do our rules make sense? Are we putting roadblocks in front of students? Are we frustrating each other? And are we making our lives more difficult only because that is the way it has always been done?
“I am just asking you to think about it because it is up to each of us, regardless of our roles on campus, to help every student, and each other, succeed.”
His overall goal, Markwood said, “is to make Columbus State University a national model of empowerment through transformational learning experiences that prepare students to serve the world as creative problem-solvers and high-impact leaders.”
Then he described what achieving that goal looks like.
“That means we are regularly recognized as a university that does more than teach,” he said. “We create learning experiences for all our students. It means we practice the kinds of skills here on campus that we know employers are looking for when they hire the next generation of their workforce.
“It means we impact every learner who comes onto our campus or connects with us online, and we give them the capability of becoming a better leader, higher-level thinker and more productive member of society.”
That goal and those ideals are part of CSU’s new strategic plan, under development and scheduled to be finalized by January, Markwood. “Already, the committee has “identified six strategic initiatives that we think will help us be a better university and help with our Complete College Georgia objectives of attracting, retaining and graduating more students,” he said.
The initiatives are:
▪ Academic excellence
▪ Student-centered campus
▪ Innovation and creativity
The strategic planning committee’s “diverse group of faculty and staff has been working diligently for about a year now,” Markwood said. The next step is for a draft of the strategic plan to be released this week “for campus review and feedback,” he said.
“The CSU 2022 plan will provide a guide for us over the next five years and will outline our goals as we strive to be a campus that champions creativity, innovation, discovery, entrepreneurship and inclusion,” Markwood said.
The committee is using results of a survey of faculty, staff and students “to learn more about how people perceive CSU and what you really think about our actions and practices,” he said.
Based on the survey’s results “and my reading of the findings,” Markwood said, “I have made several recommendations for immediate next steps. They include continuing the courageous conversations we started last year, reviewing several of our policies and practices, and hiring a chief inclusion officer.”
Markwood encouraged the faculty and staff to think of their role in the broader scope of the nation’s democracy.
“We too have our place in helping to secure liberty and freedom,” he said, “not just by helping to ensure an increasing percentage of adults have post high school credentials, or by creating an educated citizenry to help propel democracy, but to help ensure our students’ freedom to learn, their freedom to succeed, their freedom to fail, their freedom to create, their freedom to challenge.”
Markwood posed CSU’s challenge this way: “to accept our students where they are and get them where they need to be, and to see our students for who they are and help them become who they were meant to be.”