A few moments ago I sent my comments/suggestions on last week’s Strategic Plan Open Forum to the task force’s co-chairs as requested. Last week’s open forum was the university community’s final opportunity to comment on the strategic plan that will guide the university’s direction for the next several years.
For the past several weeks, I have been meeting with a group of students, faculty, and staff who have been thinking concretely about how to bring change to the university and build strong networks with the surrounding community. Our group, Occupy Kutztown, meets every Tuesday at 11am in Bear’s Den coffee house in the student union building (meeting will restart at the beginning of the spring semester). The three suggestions I sent to the Strategic Plan Task Force attempt to get the university to enact policies of material support to the community. Here is the full memo I sent:
To: Co-Chairs, Strategic Planning Task Force
From: Kevin Mahoney
Re: Comments/Suggestions for Strategic Plan
Date: December 7, 2011
I am writing to follow up on last week’s Strategic Plan open forum. As you may recall, I made a few suggestions about the implementation of the Strategic Plan that I believe would provide KU with some concrete goals toward implementation. These suggestions are focused on reinforcing the spirit of the mission and goals of the university in ways that also help build strong connections with our surrounding communities.
I want to express my thanks to the Strategic Plan Task Force for their great work. I believe that this strategic plan represents the first coherent vision for the long-term success of the university I have seen since joining the faculty in 2002. As the outside consultant, Dr. Stephen Reno, statedas a result of this process, you all have a wider responsibility for this campus. So, you should be looking at this plan and asking yourself, “what’s my part in it? What piece of it can I pick up and take up and work on?”These suggestions represent the kind of work that I and others envision as the parts of the process that we are willing to “pick up, take up, and work on.” So, as requested, I am sending you these comments/suggestions to you to include in your deliberations.
The three suggestions I have relate directly to Objective 2.1 Develop, Promote, and Sustain Strong Community Partnerships, in particular (but not limited to), Initiative 2.1.2. The goal of Initiative 2.1.2 is to “Establish and strengthen reciprocal relationships with regional businesses and community groups.” The two desired outcomes are: 1) identify and establish relationships with businesses and community groups aligned with KU programs; and, 2) Expand our networks of approved internship sites.
The current economic climate continues to strain communities and families that surround the university and from where most of our students come. It would seem both appropriate and strategically smart for the university to act proactively to support our communities materially. These three suggestions could have a significant material impact in our communities and strengthen our ties with our communities.
- Bank Locally
Currently, Kutztown University does its banking with Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo was one of the “big banks” that contributed to our current economic crisis and continues to be plagued by ethical and legal violations. I propose that Kutztown University moves its money out of “big banks” and into a community based bank. Fleetwood Bank, for example, is a local, community based bank that would be an ideal candidate. By banking locally, we are supporting the local economy and maximizing the local impact of our banking practices.
- PA Sourcing of Office Supplies and Related Materials
While Pennsylvania has been spared the worst of the current economic crisis, jobs are still quite difficulty to come by and PA families are struggling. As a state institution that is owned by the taxpaying citizens of the Commonwealth, it would make sense that we should maximize our economic support for PA industries. I propose that Kutztown University enact a policy of buying at least 50% of all office supplies and related materials from PA industries with a unionize workforce.
- Sourcing Food Locally
Similar to #2, I propose that Kutztown University enact a policy of sourcing at least 50% of the food served on campus from local farms. Given the sheer size of Kutztown University, we would provide significant direct support for local economies. Furthermore, given the increasing number of food related crises connected to large-scale, global food sourcing (arsenic in apple juice, E. coli in meat and pre-packaged salads and vegetables) buying food locally is also a health issue.I fully recognize that none of these proposals could be enacted over-night. I also recognize that enacting these proposals would require both work and a different way of thinking about how we fulfill our mission. As President Cevallos said at the open forum, these proposals lead us into “long and complicated” discussions and there would be “difficulties.” The group of people that I am working with on these issues are more than willing with work out the “difficulties.”
I believe that we can “think big” with this strategic plan and create a set of practices that can build strong relationships with the community through material choices the university makes as to how to spend and invest its money. As President Cevallos said, budgets and the use of resources are “choices.” The three choices I outline above are choices that can help demonstrate to the community that we can not only talk the talk of community engagement, we can walk the walk, too.
Thank you in advance for you consideration. Feel free to contact me via email @ firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone. I would be happy to meet to discuss any of these issues further.
Assoc. Prof., English
Kick off: February 13th.
Week 1: Intro to the Economic Collapse (6pm)
- Film: Inside Job
Week 2: Best Democracy Money Can Buy
- Film: We the People, INC – Bill Moyer’s Journal
Week 3: Rigging the Game
- Film: Koch Brother’s Exposed
Week 4: Intro to Community Agriculture
- Film: Fresh
Week 5: Frankenfood
- Film: The Future of Food
Week 6: Corporate Supper
- Film: Food, Inc.
Week 7: Blowing Up Appalachia
- Film: The Last Mountain
Week 8: Frack This!
- Film: Split Estate
Week 9: Fire in the Water
- Film: Gasland