Oakland University held a Student Focus Group Tuesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Elliott Hall Auditorium to allow students to help shape future university planning strategies and goals.
The discussion was held with Rebecca Kraus, Oakland University’s planning consultant. Kraus, who said she has a background in strategic planning and executive coaching, will be working with OU to develop a strategic planning committee.
Kraus said that the university is currently trying to plan ahead and give the next president a good “road map direction” as far as institutional goals and priorities goes.
The committee is not formed yet, but students shared quite a few ideas and concerns at Tuesday’s session.
Striving for quality
The first things Kraus and the students discussed was OU’s mission of quality education and what barriers were getting in the way of that mission.
One big problem students felt OU had was the lack of service-learning courses and hands-on opportunities.
“When you get going from backpacks to briefcases you’ve got to have those transferable skills,” one of the participating students said.
One student said she participates in various student organizations and thought it would be nice if there were a little more encouragement for student participation in organizations and places outside of the classroom.
Another student said she would like to see more classes that blend the arts and technical professions, and what it’s like to work and communicate with people in different types of professions.
“When you speak of educational leadership I don’t think a lot of people know what that means,” the student said. “We need more courses to break down what educational leadership means.”
Envisioning the future
The majority of student speakers said they would like to see better communication and awareness between students, staff and faculty, or “seamless communication,” as Kraus called it.
Students also said it should be important to have a good reputation on a national level.
“I’d like to be able to go to any Meijer’s in Michigan and find OU gear,” one student said. “I’m very proud to go to OU and when I’m an alumni I want to be able to go to Meijer and buy a t-shirt.”
One student said that OU, as a commuter school, should have more student engagement and opportunities for those commuters. OU should think about more food options, price reductions, better parking and more areas for commuters to just sit and relax in.
“Create more of a community feeling for students,” the student said.
Another thing that students thought should be considered is the updating of old facilities to keep up with all of the new ones.
The last big question students and Kraus discussed was that of what sets OU apart from other Michigan universities.
The students appreciated how they can get access and a voice in many things that other Michigan university students can’t.
Despite the lack of “seamless communication,” students felt that their relationship with administration is healthier at OU than at most universities.
“Oakland is a very student-oriented university,” one student said. “They’re going to do their best to make sure you do your best.”