North Texas Daily

QEP requires input from community

QEP requires input from community

October 15
23:55 2014

Rhiannon Saegert / Senior Staff Writer

UNT is nearly finished creating a Quality Enhancement Plan meant to improve the university, which is required for the school to pass evaluation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and keep its accreditation and funding.

For the QEP to be accepted, it must be inclusive. To this end, UNT created the QEP leadership team, which is made up of people who were selected to represent every group on campus. The group consists of deans, administrators, professors, directors, presidents and vice presidents of different departments, but only one student representative.

Home furnishings merchandising and digital retailing senior Katrina Gibson is the sole student representative on the team. Gibson said former SGA vice president Anthony Brown was also on the team, but left due to other obligations.

“My role was less about getting student feedback for them and more about providing a student voice while we were talking about things,” Gibson said. “I was kind of the person to go, ‘Hey, just as a layman’s student, what does this mean? How is this going to impact the student body?’”

The team began the process last September by emailing all students, faculty and staff asking for any ideas, then contacted various student groups to help spread the word. Similar proposal ideas that met SACS COC requirements were grouped together and fleshed out.

Gibson said the team’s role is mainly collecting and organizing feedback and ideas to guide the writing process of each proposal.

The last step will be giving their own opinions on the completed proposals to campus president Neal Smatresk before he selects the QEP.

“A lot of them are thinking like deans,” Gibson said. “They’re thinking about institutional approaches, and I’m thinking about the everyday life of the student and how it’s going to impact us on that level.”

Concern over student involvment

Student Government Association president Troy Elliott said he was concerned that only one student served on the leadership team.

Elliott said UNT should aspire to do more to represent students.

“This shouldn’t be a trend,” Elliott said. “Given that it’s something for students, it’s something that’s a huge concern of ours. Though that may be the model, I’m not interested in other universities’ models. The university policy should have been to have better student involvement.”

However, Elliott said that, in his opinion, the team fulfilled its obligation to collect student feedback and met with SGA several times.

“It’s just very concerning they don’t have more students on the actual team making the decisions,” Elliott said.

QEP leadership team facilitator Mike Simmons said students were active in the process from the beginning, even if only one served on the leadership team.

“It’s a fair representation, he said. “It’s kind of an ongoing conversation.”

Simmons said the team is still collecting student feedback through surveys and will continue to do so until the process is complete.

“You try to get as many as possible,” Simmons said. “That’s why we started so early. You can’t just whip this up in a few months and say everybody had a chance. That’s why it’s taken so long.”

The remaining candidates

Once the team narrowed down options to the four remaining proposals, four open forums were held so students could learn about the separate proposals and contribute feedback.

The four remaining proposals are called Engaging the Global Generations, Soar Beyond the Classroom, Flight Path for Career Success and Magnify UNT. Smatresk will select one of the four proposals to follow in spring.

Each proposal incorporates four things: critical thinking, social and personal responsibility, communication skills and teamwork.

However, each plan approaches them from a different angle.

The Engaging Global Generations plan is geared toward preparing students to tackle global issues after graduation. This plan emphasizes contact with other cultures and looking at local issues from a global perspective.

The Soar Beyond the Classroom plan focuses on students applying the skills they’ve learned to issues in their community.

With this plan, students would be learning to think critically by solving real-world problems locally.

The Flight Path for Career Success plan places emphasis on helping students choose a career early. The plan would involve students working with mentors, learning business etiquette and working in teams to solve real-world ethical dilemmas.

Students would develop portfolios throughout their time at college and begin applying for jobs their senior year.

The Magnify UNT plan calls for more undergraduate research opportunities for every major. The presentation argues that by conducting research, students learn all the skills necessary to be successful.

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