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Friday Dec. 16, 2005

Suggestion period for MU plan ends Monday

By Eric Fossell ( )

HUNTINGTON -- It's not too late to make your voice heard about Marshall University's future.

Monday marks the last day for people to provide suggestions about improving the institution. Participants may do so by going online to Input is encouraged for anyone interested, including alumni and friends of the university who live outside the Tri-State.

University officials plan to consider suggestions as part of a seven-year strategic vision for Marshall.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the university had received more than 380 suggestions from faculty, staff, students and community members, according to Keith Spears, vice president of communications.

About a third of the submissions were sent from campus, he said. The rest were sent from elsewhere in the community or beyond.

"Closer to the deadline, I think there is a greater intensity," Spears said. "We expect that we'll have over 500 by the Dec. 19 deadline.

"We're excited about the responses that we're getting. By and large, the ideas that are being submitted are well-thought-out. They have an exceptional understanding of the direction that Marshall needs to go, and we are pleased that people are taking this amount of time and effort in telling us."

Marshall is clearly a focal point for people in the region, and they're using this opportunity to express their interest in its well being-- "Very candidly, I might add," Spears said.

Suggestions from both the community and people on campus cover the four strategic goal areas outlined by Marshall: Intellectual capital, community and service, economic development, and discovery and innovation.

Community members' comments include suggestions to pursue a law program at Marshall, as well as a school of veterinary medicine. Creating engineering and pharmacy programs were among other suggestions, as well as raising academic standards for students.

Some community respondents suggested using the Cam Henderson Center and the Joan C. Edwards Stadium as concert venues.

Last month, Marshall President Stephen Kopp outlined his plans to develop a strategic vision for the university. Its theme is "Aiming for Perfection: Our Bold Constellation for the Future."

"This is a bold concept," Kopp said during a news conference last month. "It harnesses technology and brings our communities -- our constituents -- to Marshall University to have a significant voice in our future."

Kopp said the timeline for the strategic vision includes finalizing and review stages from late December into latter January. It is scheduled to be presented at the Marshall Board of Governors meeting on Jan. 25 and to the Joint Educational Committee of the West Virginia Legislature on Jan. 31.

From February to April of next year, administrators will consider foremost goals for a one- to three-year action plan for the university. By April 24, the action plan will be implemented, including budget allocations during the specified time frame.

Kopp emphasized that everyone's suggestions will be considered, whether they make them on campus or off.

Herald-Dispatch staffer Jean Tarbett Hardiman contributed to this report.

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