Message from Helen Sterk, Department Head

dr. sterkAs you can see from the newsletter, we’ve been at work this year refining our sense of identity and purpose as a department. In January, before the second semester began, all of the full-time faculty and office staff members worked for two days with Dr. Larry Long, former Dean of the School of Communication at Illinois State University, developing our strategic plan for the future.

Recognizing organizational context as crucial to success, the department’s plan lines up with Western Kentucky University’s ‘Challenging the Spirit’ plan’s four major strategic goals: to foster academic excellence, to promote a dynamic and diverse university community, to improve the quality of life for our communities and to support the core mission with a robust campus infrastructure.

So what does that mean for the department? The short form answers are:

First: We will increase our academic excellence by developing course assignments that craft an ongoing balance of theory and practice, so student skills are grounded in understanding. The ‘how’ of communication always needs to be built on the ‘why.’ Further, we will develop learning that crosses courses, so that what is begun in one is picked up in another. And we will support our honors students through regular honors offerings, enthusiastic mentoring of theses, and encouraging JUMP (Joint Undergraduate Master’s Program) enrollments.

Second: We will promote a dynamic and diverse university community by putting key department people in connection with university resource persons on diversity to determine opportunities. We will gather information on how well we have been doing in keeping diversity alive and well in our programs. And we will develop an action plan for the department that shows we value all human beings.

Third: We will improve the quality of life for our communities. In order to improve the quality of life for our part of the world, we need to know what is needed and what we have to offer to fulfill those needs. So, first, we’ll research both for-profit and non-profit organizations in our communities, and then, we’ll tailor and market more strategically our program internships, certificates, online offerings, and faculty consultant expertise.

Fourth: We will support the core mission of our department and university with a robust infrastructure. In order to supplement the course work offered through the department, we will develop attractive classrooms, a well-staffed Communication Success Center, and faculty offices conducive to meeting with students and conducting collegial conversations. In order to supplement the work of the university, we will develop a QEP-based proposal for an argument and evidence oral communication lab and a Social Media Analytics Command Center.

Stay tuned for reports on how we do on each of these goals. Some will be completed this year and some may take up to five years, but all will be on our agenda.

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