Chancellor details strategic plan to OSA

Liam Beran, Staff Writer

UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt previewed UW Oshkosh’s strategic plan for the next seven years at Monday’s Oshkosh Student Association (OSA) Assembly meeting. 

The strategic plan, a roadmap for initiatives the university plans to pursue, was developed in part by 14 students in the Strategic Planning Committee and will now be open for feedback from UWO’s four shared governance bodies.

Initiatives include a commitment to meeting the university’s sustainability goals, tackling student and faculty retention rates, promoting further diversity, equity and inclusivity programs and allowing faculty and staff a greater voice on campus, alongside other campus issues and goals.

Luiza Nelson, a third-year student at UWO and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee, said the committee is a “great opportunity for legacy and for me to have a voice to make the school [and] the environment better for future students.”

Nelson praised the work of the committee and campus administrators for prioritizing staff and faculty engagement and campus culture while creating the strategic plan.

“The staff and faculty [are] really kind of the driving force in this campus because students come and go,” she said.

Nelson also said that accountability and ways to research the effectiveness of campus proposals were at the top of the committee and campus administrations’ goals.

“You can have good strategic planning, but then it has to be put into practice,” Nelson said.  

Leavitt also mentioned the importance of the strategic plan for the future of the university.

“All of last year’s Strategic Planning Committee work could generate the goals, the insights, really the strategies that we would need to move forward as an institution for the next five to seven years,” he said.

Leavitt said that the strategic plan will undergo revision among the four governance bodies and be turned into a final version of the plan “probably sometime in November” and will be returned to the governance bodies in December “for a straight up-or-down vote.” 

When the plan is approved, a permanent Strategic Planning Committee will be established among the shared governance bodies. This committee will facilitate the plan’s implementation, which Leavitt said will start in January and February of next spring.

Although traditional strategic plans have been five-year road maps, Leavitt hopes that the shared governance bodies will authorize the plan for seven years (2023-2030). 

“A five-year plan just didn’t seem like enough runway for a lot of the things that we wanted to do,” Leavitt said. 

One of the university’s goals is to overhaul energy consumption and production in order to reach a 2030 goal for carbon neutrality that was signed last April on Earth Day. To do this, Leavitt said that the university is looking at options including heat pumps and geothermal wells to replace the boilers that currently provide heat to campus buildings. Leavitt also said that UWO is prioritizing the implementation of electric vehicles in campus transportation and participation in a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement with other UW system schools. 

A Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, according to Brookfield Renewable subsidiary Urban Grid, is “a contract structure in which a power buyer (or off-taker) agrees to purchase a project’s renewable energy for a pre-agreed price.” By doing so, the university would partake in a carbon offset program that would subsidize its own emissions by funding clean, renewable energy elsewhere.

The strategic plan is currently posted on the UWO website and will be presented to the governance groups throughout October. Feedback will be considered through Oct. 28, according to the Strategic Planning Committee.