COMMUNITY/REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP STRATEGIC TASK FORCE FINDINGS
Sources of Data:
The Strategic Planning Task Force on Community/Regional Partnership gathered data from a number of sources.
The Task Force talked with resource individuals on campus including Dale Bradley, (Workforce Development and Off-Campus Programs), Jack Kirby (who discussed the Environmental Scan), and Rich McCormick (Tech Prep Initiative and the Tech Prep Consortiums).
Task Force members participated in the open forums held on campus January 31 and February 2, obtaining valuable input from faculty and staff, and held another public forum on March 21, but did not have any participants.
The Task Force chair met with the Superintendent of Schools and Assistant Superintendent of Schools for Marion County and requested their input with regard to how well Fairmont State is meeting their needs.
Finally, the Task Force members developed a questionnaire, designed to go to a wide range of individuals, in order to gather information. The questionnaire was designed and posted on a web site, http://www2.fairmontstate.edu/library/sptf.rse.questionnaire.htm, and was set up so that respondents could remain anonymous, if so desired. The questionnaire did ask if the respondents would be willing to serve on any advisory councils that might be established. Seventy-two respondents indicated that they were willing to participate. The major source of data came from this questionnaire, which asked the following five questions:
- What would be your expectations from Fairmont State as a partner with the community?
- In what ways do you think that Fairmont State understands or does not understand the community’s issues and needs?
- How can Fairmont State improve its role as a community partner or what other things might we do?
- Please describe any barriers that may exist between Fairmont State and the greater community served by the institution.
- What areas of community development and/or service would benefit most from further assistance from Fairmont State?
The questionnaire was distributed electronically, by email, to the following groups and/or individuals:
- Students of Fairmont State
- Faculty and Adjunct Faculty of Fairmont State
- Staff of Fairmont State
- I-79 Economic Development Council
- Nine Chambers of Commerce: Morgantown area; Harrison County; Lewis County; Marion County; Elkins-Randolph County; Buckhannon-Upshur County; Grafton-Taylor County; Kingwood-Preston County; and Doddridge-Salem area.
Narrative of Findings
The Task Force gathered the following data from the pubic forums and discussions with faculty and staff:
- While faculty and staff are represented in various activities throughout the greater service area of the institution (churches, organizations, clubs, volunteer services), there is a need for Fairmont State personnel to give of their special skills and abilities, and for Fairmont State to be recognized as a source of persons who have specialized knowledge to share.
- Fairmont State does not have any public roster of persons with specialized skills and knowledge who are willing to talk with a group, demonstrate certain skills, provide a program, etc. Fairmont State needs something comparable to the Speaker’s Bureau seen at most institutions.
- Visitors in Fairmont may not be aware that there is an institution of higher learning in the community. There are few signs and little indication of the institution’s presence throughout the community. This is also true of other sites, where students have been unable to find the location of classes. Fairmont State needs to develop a system of signage for the entire service area, so that local residents are aware of the presence of the institution, whether classes being taught are dual enrollment, undergraduate, or graduate. In particular, the Caperton Center and the NAEC need to be advertised through better signage, so that citizens and visitors are made aware of Fairmont State’s presence and impact on the entire service region.
- Fairmont State needs to focus on sponsoring more events in the greater community. Fairmont State needs to be in and of the community, not the isolated “college on the hill.” Outreach through cultural activities, through publications providing information about successes, events, and opportunities, and through institution-wide interaction with every facet of the region is essential.
- Fairmont State should establish alliances with teachers and students in the local region and beyond. Many students are not adequately prepared for college and Fairmont State needs to involve itself in the local schools of the service area of the institutions.
The responses from the questionnaire generated very similar threads as those gathered from comments at the forums. While responses are still being received at the time this report is being written, the total useable responses to date were as follows:
- Students—106 Student Responses (pdf)
- Faculty—24 Faculty Responses (pdf)
- Staff—13 Staff Responses (pdf)
- Multiple roles (service agency, business/industry, public education, parent)—6 Multiple Roles Responses (pdf)
- Other (roles unknown)—14 Other Responses (pdf)
- Total Responses: 157
While it is difficult to summarize all of the findings, these are the major themes that surfaced:
- Fairmont State needs to be more engaged with the community, throughout the region, and should partner with the region to insure continued economic development, should expand workforce education, and needs to network with business and industry, as well as assist with the rehabilitation of neighborhoods, etc.
- Fairmont State needs to place more emphasis on service learning, on involving students in outreach services to the underserved, not only on the main campus, but at the Caperton Center and other sites.
- Fairmont State should increase its involvement in assisting public education in the region in a myriad of ways including faculty and students helping in the schools, the provision of tutoring, providing assistance with grant writing, and making available access to educational resources.
- Fairmont State needs to open the main campus and Caperton Center to the community, to have events where the public is welcome, to provide some access at times to facilities, and to make the public feel welcome.
- Fairmont State needs to improve communications, which includes signage at all sites; the institution should increase publicity and make the community aware of what is available at Fairmont State; further, directions to all sites should be improved, and the college’s web pages need to be revamped.
- Fairmont State needs to improve handicapped accessibility on campus and in all facilities.
The chair met with the Superintendent of Schools and the Assistant Superintendent of Schools of Marion County, and requested feedback on how well their needs were being met by Fairmont State. They discussed four ways that Fairmont State needs to improve:
- Fairmont State needs to provide students with more mathematics education and more pedagogy for teaching math; students apparently do not want to take the advanced math courses and come with credentials only to teach at the elementary level.
- Fairmont State needs to be producing students on the cutting edge of technology (there was acknowledgment that this area is improving).
- Fairmont State needs to make students aware of the content standards of West Virginia.
- Fairmont State is using too many adjuncts, creating an accountability variable.