Monday, May 25, 2009

Campus Community Coalition – Expanded Mission

The Campus Community Coalition, whose meetings I attend regularly, has reworked its mission and goals to fit with the broader context suggested by the name of the organization. (Click on the image at left) The Coalition was originally established over ten years ago to deal with a narrow range of issues concerning alcohol use and abuse by WWU students. For that reason it was placed under the office of Prevention and Wellness Services (Click here to go to the website). Several years ago, some members of the Coalition recognized that not all “town/gown” issues brought to the group fell under the rubric of Prevention and Wellness or had anything to do with alcohol consumption. With the arrival of Dr. Bruce Shepard, there was a push to move the coalition to the Office of University Relations which was recently filled by Steve Swan, a close associate of Dr. Shepard in his previous post in Wisconsin. (See my September 2008 letter to Dr. Shepard by clicking here)

I met with Mr. Swan last February (click here to read a summary of that meeting) in an attempt to persuade him that a Coalition with an expanded mission would not fit well if subordinated to an organization with a narrower mission than that of the Coalition itself. I had also met with Dr Eileen Coughlin, Vice President for Student Affairs and Academic Support, to whom I voiced the same idea. (Click here to read a summary of that meeting.) Other members of the Coalition have argued the point at meetings and in talks with Lara Welker, the Coalition’s director. In the past few weeks a decision was made to keep the Coalition in the Prevention and Wellness Services – at least for the time being. Although I am disappointed with the decision, the rationale was part budgetary as the Coalition is currently funded by WWU through the Wellness Office and part reticence in moving the entire mission to University Affairs where there was a lack of support staff. The door to moving the Coalition to the office of University Relations (Click here to read about this office) was not closed entirely as Mr. Swan is just now 4 months into the job and wants to get a better understanding of the Coalition and the issues before possibly moving it within the hierarchy. He did name Sherry Burkey, Associate VP for University Relations and Director of Legislative Affairs, (click here to go to the Legislative Affairs web page) to coordinate closely and directly with the Coalition on issues which fall outside the normal scope of Prevention and Wellness. Education on alcohol related issues will continue as a focus of the Coalition under the Wellness umbrella.

Since Mr. Swan has told me that he will also work closely with the Coalition, I am willing to wait to see if the new set-up will work. I am also encouraged by the fact that Dr. Shepard, in a demonstration of his commitment to the CCC, is continuing to fund the Coalition at its present level, even in the face of enormous budget cuts.

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