Williston State College administrators, faculty and staff are not simply planning for next semester which begins Jan. 11, they are making plans for the next five years. On Dec. 16, college faculty and staff, community leaders and members of the community at large, met for a Strategic Planning Retreat and to discuss the future of the college.
"We had great representation our school district, legislators, city, hospital and community leaders," said WSC President Dr. Raymond Nadolny. "When you do strategic planning, you bring together faculty and staff, students and community members and ask, ‘If we came back to WSC in five years, what would be different? What differences would we want to see that betters the lives of our students and community?"
Looking to the very near future, WSC will see changes in its sports programming and in the more distant future more opportunities not only for those attending WSC, but for the entire community.
"We gave (WSC athletic director) Hunter Berg approval to pursue instituting men's hockey and women's fast pitch softball," Nadolny said. He added that the plan calls for the programs to be up and running, with competitive play beginning as soon as the fall 2011 semester.
"Given the community we're in and the passion people here have for hockey, it's just a great event," Nadolny said. "These are two great sports programs to bring to this community."
Also of great interest to many were the results of the master planning process. "The number one aspiration by community members during the master planning process was for the college to have a performing arts center," Nadolny explained.
The center would not only be used for college groups, but would also be available for performances by church choirs, community bands, orchestras, theater, as well as be a venue for art, etc.
"Having aspects of both performing arts and fine arts, in one venue on the WSC campus, is really an exciting piece of the planning that we believe people in the community will really get behind and get excited about as well." Nadolny said.
Another part of the five-year strategic plan discussed during the retreat is whether Williston has enough access to baccalaureate opportunities.
"The decision was made to pursue a bachelor's degree, such as a bachelor's of applied science," Nadolny said. "This is the type of degree that allows someone who has an associate's degree to take that next two years of college, complete it, and enter into a supervisory roll, providing the access that we currently lack. Even though we have good partnership opportunities for students to take distance education and earn a bachelor's degree, it's not the same as having that on-campus experience and having the support of being in an on-campus baccalaureate experience."
One more discussion held during the retreat was about a wellness/rec center in the community and the possibility of placing it on the WSC campus. "It's important to know that our staff supports a wellness/rec center on campus if the Williston community moves in that direction," Nadolny said.
"We wanted to open the conversation and be able to say that in the next five years, if the initiative comes up, that a wellness/rec center on campus is something the college is not only open to but will support."
The strategic planning process involved many other pieces as well, Nadolny said, including funding of profession development. "We need to make sure that we invest to get our faculty the best updates, training and information available to make them successful," he said. "There were also many other pieces, but these area really the highlights."
He stated that a strategic plan is a five-year document, and that this document will not simply exist on a shelf. "We identify these pieces of the plan as goals, but also have to be realistic," he said. "We will evaluate our goals annually. We are very open to all the changes taking place around us and we really need to be in a position to manage growth and not have growth manage us. The strategic plan is simply a guide."
"All in all, it was a very exciting day," he concluded. "People came prepared to discuss exciting opportunities. When you look at the possibility of a new art center, new athletic programs, a wellness/rec center, investing in our faculty, it all speaks for a very dynamic community."