Rule in on reflection — Provost addresses the university’s progress at University Faculty Meeting

University of Idaho Provost and Executive Vice President John Wiencek took time during Tuesday’s University Faculty Meeting to reflect on university achievements.

“In general, we’ve done a lot this year with cascaded plans,” Wiencek said.

Specifically, Wiencek focused on the nine-year strategic plan and the progress made this year.

The strategic plan, which is now in action, follows four main goals — transform, innovate, engage and cultivate. Wiencek said the university made significant headway in meeting these goals over the course of the year.

The news for the year within the transform category was enrollment, Wiencek said. Enrollment is up for the first time in seven years, with total enrollment increasing from 11,373 in the fall of 2015 to 11,780 in fall 2016, a 3.6 percent increase.

Enrollment heavily fell on dual-credit enrollment for high school students obtaining college credit, increasing from 718 students to 1,390, Wiencek said. There was also a large enrollment of in-state resident and non-resident first-time students at the undergraduate level.

“The undergraduate full-time enrollment is really the key subgroup that we are focusing on because it is core to our impact as an institution,” Wiencek said.

Undergraduates speak to access, as well as assist in the growth of the institution, carrying in a majority of the revenue brought in by tuition and helping the university reinvest in educational programs, he said.

There is a slight decline in the overall undergraduate enrollment, which is a reflection of things that have happened in the distant past, Wiencek said. However, typically, the new recruiting classes over the previous two years have shown a 4 to 5 percent growth each year.

“We just have to keep that and we’re going to see this turnaround and our undergraduate enrollment is going to start going up,” Wiencek said.

In addition to this, the university has seen a large increase of in-state applicants because of the elimination of the admissions processing fee to resident students, Wiencek said.

With these two factors, Wiencek said the university is seeing large increases in the number of applications and the number of students admitted overall.

Enrollment is not just about recruiting, but retaining and encouraging students who have already attended the university in prior years to continue on with their college career and obtain a degree, he said.

“This year, we are working and have been working diligently on trying to partner across the colleges and with our Strategic Enrollment Management Office on what we can do to provide more seamless advising experience and support our students,” Wiencek said.

Another large improvement made within the innovate category was the opening of the Integrated Research and Innovation Center, Wiencek said.

“As of May 1st, it’s 75 percent occupied,” Wiencek said. “That’s pretty amazing within a matter of about three or four months.”

In terms of engage, Wiencek said the category has a strong focus on extension outreach and meeting the needs of the society.

The university is taking the leadership role in advancing high school graduates onto post-secondary opportunities, Wiencek said.

This year’s Vandal Ideas Project was focused on producing ideas to help support that mission.

Cultivate, another goal within the strategic plan, focuses directly on the campus environment and people in the workplace.

One of the key objectives is to improve efficiency, transparency and communication throughout the university, Wiencek said. The program prioritization process is a good example of how the university is making progress within the scope of transform.

Learning to solve problems together between faculty, staff and administration are a key component to improving within the transform goal, he said.

“The things we do here, we do together,” Wiencek said. “It’s not Chuck Staben or John Wiencek … it’s us.”

Savannah Cardon can be reached at or on Twitter @savannahlcardon


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