January 15, 2013 10:40:45 AM
On Monday, Mississippi University for Women revealed the results of a four-month effort to define, sharpen and unify its goals under the leadership of Dr. Jim Borsig, who has been on the job as president for about a year now.
The W's choir participated in the event at Poindexter Hall and its presence afforded a fitting metaphor for what it is The W is trying to achieve with its four-month self-examination, which consisted of six sessions involving 180 stakeholders, everyone from students to staff, alumni and community leaders.
In music, maintaining the proper key is critical to the harmony. One discordant note can ruin the piece.
For The W, the whole exercise was ensuring that every aspect of the university is not only singing the same song, but maintaining perfect pitch.
Those who expected detailed plans were likely to be disappointed by Monday's unveiling. The presentation provided only the basic harmony. The chord progression will come later.
That is why Monday's presentation offered not a detailed plan of action, but rather, an outline to be followed. It seemed to cover every aspect of the university, dealing not only with how students, staff, faculty and administrators interact, but also The W's relations with the community.
It seems wise to us that The W would take this time to make a broad assessment of what the school has been, is now and can be. Times have changed and with it so have students' needs. Officials are quick to acknowledge the need for The W to better define itself in the education marketplace. The term "branding" was tossed around freely by Monday's presenters, and we expect to see a lot of attention focused on the creation of a instantly recognizable and universally understood brand for the school.
For quite some time, the university has languished in public perception. Embroiled in several years of bitter infighting over the course it should take, The W began to heal those fissures among its base under the guidance of interim president Allegra Brigham. Now, with Borsig settled in as president, the university is moving forward.
Monday's presentation, while short on details, did provide some glimpse into the strategy it plans to employ.
The challenges are many, the goals ambitious. The W must change with them if it is to thrive.
By sharpening its focus, drawing on its strengths, anticipating the needs of future generations of students, marketing itself effectively not only with prospective students but with the community it calls home, The W can grow and prosper.
The outline that was delivered Monday.
Now the work begins.