Self-Study Highlights

Criterion One: Mission and Integrity

In carrying out its mission, Wesleyan recognizes, welcomes, and actively pursues its distinct responsibility as an institution of higher learning in central West Virginia. Dedicated to its role in higher education, Wesleyan is committed to excellence in teaching and student learning. The campus student body is diverse in age, ethnicity, and economic background. Curricular offerings are comprehensive for the liberal arts, the social and natural sciences, and professional programs in athletic training, business, nursing, and education for bachelors and masters degrees. The chapter that follows shows how the mission and integrity of the College are realized. The organization operates with integrity to ensure the fulfillment of its mission through structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff, and students.

The strengths of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • A Statement of Mission is widely disseminated and understood by faculty and staff and students.
  • A living strategic planning process that adapts to the changing needs of current and future students while balancing the long-term commitment to the overriding values of the Statement of Mission.
  • A strong relationship with the United Methodist Church.
  • A faculty governance and institutional committee structure that invites collaboration among faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni.
  • An established process to insure the accuracy and consistency of campus publications.
  • Policies that promote academic freedom while upholding academic integrity.

The challenges of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • Continue to improve the appreciation of diversity in many forms among students, faculty, and staff.
  • Continue to improve communication among faculty, staff, administration, trustees, and alumni.
  • Continue to meet the challenges of the changing face of higher education, especially the traditional liberal arts college as it lives its Mission.

Criterion Two: Preparing for the Future

Wesleyan strengths are in its teaching and its programs that span degree offerings from the baccalaureate to the masters. Nevertheless, the College’s strengths, like those of many other colleges and universities, are currently being tested by many internal and external forces. Recognizing and successfully meeting today’s challenges in higher education requires reflection on the past and planning for the future so that Wesleyan can move beyond its present accomplishments. This chapter of the self-study explains Wesleyan’s processes for looking forward and planning for the future. Because the power of planning is inextricably linked to financial resources and effective budgeting, a large portion of this chapter is devoted to Wesleyan’s resource base and its management. The organization’s allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.

The strengths of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • The strategic planning process is inclusive, on-going and adaptable to both internal and external environments.
  • The existence of sufficient data from Institutional Research (IR) office to use in decision-making.
  • There are solid efforts by the Administration and Board of Trustees to engage in budget planning, resource allocation, and deficit reduction.
  • Resource decisions are based on strategic planning priorities.

The challenges of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • The technology refresh and updating to the infrastructure are an ongoing financial challenge.
  • Globalization efforts have a strong planning base but need to be better integrated into the College’s efforts.
  • The TracDat system is underutilized campus-wide.

Criterion Three: Student Learning and Effective Teaching

The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission. Wesleyan is committed to offering a high-quality educational experience for each student. The college’s size, range of degree offerings, and academic expertise, coupled with opportunities for students to engage in research, service, and community, situate Wesleyan as a highly visible institution of higher learning in central West Virginia. Wesleyan believes that effective teaching and student learning are essential components of its educational mission and seeks to provide an atmosphere that promotes both. To this end, the institution clearly states its goals for student learning as found in the Statement of Mission, provides stimulating learning environments, promotes effective teaching, and pursues an assessment program that, when fully implemented, will effectively measure student learning outcomes from the General Education and each academic program and will connect outcome assessments to curricular and administrative decision-making.

The strengths of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • Institution-wide, strong indirect assessment data for its four mission goals consistently collected through the NSSE, Alumni Survey, and the Graduating Students Survey.
  • Assessment efforts focused on the four mission goals allowing assessment to be more meaningful, manageable, and helping to keep the campus focused on the mission.
  • Access and support for faculty development and travel.
  • A strong culture of faculty participation in professional and scholarly activities, while maintaining an emphasis on teaching.
  • A well-used library that serves as a central resource and learning environment.

The challenges of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • A need for more direct assessment (therefore less self-report data) at the program and campus-wide level to assess student learning.
    Consistent assessment across all academic and student development programs.
  • TracDat should be a strength in this area, but its wide use across campus continues to be a challenge.
  • A need for updating and improving learning environments in classrooms, residence halls and other gathering spaces beyond the new construction of the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts, David E. Reemsnyder Research Center, and Fleming Hall.
  • Computer technology, both infrastructure and in the classroom, are in need of continual upgrading and refreshing.

Criterion Four: Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge

As a comprehensive college, the Wesleyan learning community dedicates itself to teaching of the highest quality. Transferring knowledge and partnering with constituents to solve problems is an expanding part of the College’s role in the twenty-first century. To thrive in a complex world, the acquisition of knowledge is paramount. This chapter describes how the College supports faculty and student research and creative activity. The promotion of intellectual inquiry through the General Education program is discussed. The final section addresses how the College’s curricula engage students to learn and experience life and work in a global, diverse, and technological society. The organization promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.

Summary of Criterion Four

The strengths of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • Consistent support for faculty and staff development opportunities.
  • Strong commitment to faculty-student research.
  • Firm commitment to globalization, diversity, and technology initiatives.
  • Investment in library resource holdings and accessibility.

The challenges of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • Ongoing need to fully institutionalize assessment of General Education into the College’s culture.
  • Ability to assess the usefulness of curricula in regard to globalization, diversity, and technology initiatives.

Criterion Five: Engagement and Service

Wesleyan articulates in its Statement of Mission that “the College recognizes and affirms its interdependence with the external communities—local, regional, national, and global—and its covenant with the people of West Virginia to share its educational and cultural resources.” Furthermore, the College “aspires to graduate [students] who act responsibly and demonstrate local and world citizenship through service.” As defined by these statements, Wesleyan’s constituencies consist locally of the campus and Buckhannon communities, as well as the larger communities of Upshur County, West Virginia, the United States, and the world.

In recent years, the College has undertaken efforts to integrate engagement with these defined communities into the culture of the institution. It is the College’s hope that its commitment to service will provide students the opportunity to form habits related to community engagement that will endure after graduation, thus fulfilling part of the Wesleyan mission. As called for by its mission, the organization identifies its constituencies and serves them in ways both value.

The strengths of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • Wesleyan’s many curricular and co-curricular programs that involve students, faculty, and staff illustrate strong partnerships with the community.
  • The establishment of the Center for Community Engagement to act as a clearinghouse and support mechanism for the College’s community engagement efforts.
  • The implementation of the Community Engagement graduation requirement that will create an opportunity for all Wesleyan graduates to become engaged in thecommunity and service while they are at Wesleyan.
  • The strong art and cultural presence Wesleyan has in the community through the Art, Theatre, Music and Library programs.

The challenges of the College based on the review of this criterion are as follows:

  • Wesleyan’s categorization as the “community center” of Buckhannon causes concern as Wesleyan struggles to balance its community responsibility with fiscal responsibilities.
  • As community engagement grows at Wesleyan, having the fiscal resources and personnel support to maintain community partnerships and other programs after the VISTA commitment in 2012 expires.