State of the University
Fostering a community of learners
President Jane Wood is asking students to take ownership of their education. One of the ways Bluffton University is fostering an environment where that is possible is through transparency. During Bluffton’s annual state of the university address, Wood shared a wide range of information with students including updates on the university’s fiscal health, enrollment and graduation outcomes, and strategic planning initiatives. She also touched on the value of a liberal arts education in a world dominated by technology.
“We are a community of learners, and it’s not just us as faculty and staff providing an education and students receiving it,” said Wood. “The state of the university is something students are a part of. They are helping to create the educational environment with us.”
Given on Sept. 7 in Yoder Recital Hall, the presentation was titled “‘Robot-proofing’ Your University Education by Living the Questions.”
Wood began by reading the university’s mission statement before a crowd of students, faculty and staff. She stressed how everything the university does centers on the university’s mission to “prepare students of all backgrounds for life as well as vocation, for responsible citizenship, for service to all peoples and, ultimately, for the purposes of God's universal kingdom."
Before looking ahead, President Wood reflected on a few highlights from the 2020-21 academic year including successfully enacting Bluffton’s #ProtectTheDam plan for in-person living and learning during a pandemic, launching and completing ten We Flourish strategic plan initiatives, and establishing campus and trustee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committees.
For year two of the strategic plan, President Wood highlighted initiatives such as designing belonging and well-being programming for students, working towards getting every Bluffton graduate trained and credentialed on a customer relations management (CRM) tool such as Sales Force, and providing continuing education for faculty and staff in both Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Intelligence.
She also highlighted Bluffton’s goals to becoming an Anti-Racist Institution.
“It is our responsibility to make others feel they belong not theirs,” said President Wood.
Finally, President Wood reflected on thoughts from Joseph Aoun, president of Northeastern University and author of “Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.” She stressed the importance of students having:
Technical ability: understanding how machines function and how to interact with them.
Data discipline: navigating the sea of information that's generated by these machines.
Human discipline: which is “what we humans can do that machines for the foreseeable future, cannot emulate.”
In action, President Wood suggested students follow the tips provided in “3 Ways to Robot-Proof your Career” by Tim Miller: get social, be technical and be nice to artificial intelligence.
“As they move forward into the world, we want our students to be ready for whatever comes their way,” said Wood. “The experiences our students have at Bluffton are preparing them for life.”