Strategic Plan

The Strategic Goals of the Biology Department align with the broads goals articulated in the CSE Strategic Plan (schematic on left). The CSE Strategic Goals are paired with specific implementation ideas (on the right). As a department, our implementation ideas differ from those described in the college-level plan, but on the pages that follow, we have adopted the same color-coded format for listing implementation ideas for Biology.

pie chart displaying categories for biology's strategic plan

Implementation of Strategic Goals

Diversity

  • Actively build a college- faculty, staff, and students - that values and is reflective of the diverse communities served by WWU 
  • Promote best practices sustaining and supporting equity, inclusivity, and diversity
  • Invest in programs that support student success

Access

  • Manage demand through a combination of targeted program growth and restricted enrollment
  • Pursue targeted growth of faculty, staff, and space resources
  • Seek innovative solutions to resource limitations

Meeting Needs

  • Invest in programs of demonstrated strength and quality
  • Develop new signature programs 
  • Strengthen interdisciplinary and community linkages

Research 

  • Invest in infrastructure, faculty, and staff supporting research
  • Support graduate program quality
  • Expand opportunities for undergraduate research

Teaching

  • Incorporate student-centered and inclusive learning practices in the curriculum
  • Expand practices building interdisciplinary and international awareness and leadership skills
  • Promote writing and communication skills throughout the curriculum

Teaching

Biology Implementation:

  • Incorporate active learning, critical thinking, quantitative and computational skills throughout curriculum.
  • Support effective study habits
  • Incorporate writing and communication skills throughout the curriculum
  • Integrate service learning into classes
  • Promote interdisciplinary learning
  • Support inclusivity in classrooms
  • Integrate core biological concepts across curriculum
  • Link assessment of student outcomes to curriculum changes
  • Implement new assessment tools to assess core competencies
  • Share teaching resources and ideas
  • Modify departmental standards to reward faculty efforts in improving departmental teaching outcomes

Metrics of Success:

  • Increased fraction of Biology graduates with multiple exposures to active learning, critical thinking and quantitative skills development in classes
  • Increased number of courses with WP credit
  • Increased fractions of Biology majors learning R or Python or another computer language skills-building, and other topics to address strategic teaching goals
  • Inclusion of a scaffolded scientific writing program in 200-level courses
  • Increased number of courses with service learning and interdisciplinary foci
  • Increased retention of Biology majors from under-represented groups (from Biology interest to Phase II to Degree)
  • Consistent improvement by students as they progress through the curriculum, as assessed with tools designed to gauge student aptitude with core concepts and competencies
  • Creation of Canvas ‘courses’ and other means for faculty to exchange teaching resources and ideas
  • Professional advancement of faculty engaged in the implementation activities listed above

 

*Our ability to implement the strategies described on this and subsequent pages depends in part of the availability of additional resources: new office staff, technical staff, and faculty positions, space to accommodate new hires, space for new lab courses, classrooms that are compatible with student-centered learning, and funding for programs, instrumentation, and software.

Diversity

Biology Implementation:

  • Increase diversity of students majoring in Biology and in our graduate program
  • Support effective study habits 
  • Increase faculty/staff diversity through more effective recruitment 
  • Promote understanding among faculty, staff, grad students, undergraduates of issues relating to equity and social justice
  • Promote inclusivity in classrooms
  • Improve the department’s web presence to better showcase our efforts regarding equity and social justice and provide links to relevant resources.
  • Develop a mentorship culture supporting inclusive excellence 
  • Pursue development opportunities to support diversity and inclusivity 
  • Increase partnerships with student groups and outreach groups
  • Increase professional development opportunities for faculty and graduate students to increase awareness of issues relating to equity and social justice
  • Modify departmental standards to reward faculty efforts in developing and implementing ways of improving departmental diversity and inclusive excellence

Metric of Success:

  • Increased fraction of Biology undergraduate and graduate students from under-represented groups
  • Increased fraction of qualified applicants for faculty and staff positions from under-represented groups
  • Increased student participation in peer-mentoring with students from under-represented groups and first generation college students 
  • Biology scholarships and fellowships targeted for students from under-represented groups and first generation college students with financial need
  • Submission of proposals to secure funding for programs to enhance diversity and inclusive excellence
  • Development of outreach activities to attract student from under-represented groups
  • Increased number of faculty members and graduate students who have gained professional development experience relating to equity and social justice
  • Professional advancement of faculty members engaged in the implementation activities listed above

Access

Biology Implementation: 

  • Maintain sufficient course offerings for timely completion of the degree
  • Develop department-wide advising practices that help students graduate in a timely fashion
  • Reach class sizes that allow efficacious learning experiences
  • Increase access to upper-level lab courses for students in emphases other than the emphasis that require those labs
  • Establish policies that equitably treat WWU and transfer student applications for Phase II Biology entrance
  • Maintain and improve practices and policies that support a research-centered graduate program and enable timely completion of the MS degree
  • Improve web presence to better disseminate information about the research interest and activities of faculty members to potential research students
  • Modify departmental standards to reward faculty efforts in improving access

Metrics of Success:

  • Average time to B.S. degree for students matriculating at WWU as freshmen remains below 4.5 years
  • Increased use of Student Success Collaborative by faculty advisors
  • Increased placement of graduates in career or postgraduate studies 2 years after graduation
  • Similar academic performance of Phase II WWU and Transfer students
  • Reduced proportion of students needing to repeat courses
  • Maintaining class sizes at 200 and 300-level courses
  • All 400-level classes at maximum of 30 students
  • Increased number of students taking upper-level lab courses outside of their area of emphasis 
  • Average time to M.S. degree remains below 3 years
  • Professional advancement of faculty engaged in the implementation activities listed above

Meeting Needs

Biology Implementation 

  • Continue support for upper-level courses that provide key training for jobs in state
  • Promote collaborative work, group problem-solving, and improved quantitative, computational, and communication skills
  • Strengthen connections between the Biology Department and the community
  • Develop department-wide advising practices that help students prepare for careers following graduation
  • Promote student involvement in peer mentoring and outreach
  • Pursue opportunities to develop internship partnerships with local and regional groups
  • Initiative development of a database with student jobs and internships
  • Promote involvement of Biology with the Honors program
  • Pursue funding to acquire research-grade instrumentation and software
  • Establish an organized pipeline for development of decision packages from Biology and in collaboration with other departments
  • Showcase lab and field experiences with students to potential scholarship donors
  • Modification on departmental standards to reward faculty efforts in improving the department’s success in meeting state needs

Metrics of Success:

  • Establishment of new courses and resources focused on career development
  • Increased fraction of students experiencing collaborative work and group problem-solving in classes 
  • Increased fraction of Biology graduates with multiple exposures to active learning, critical thinking, and quantitative skills development in classes 
  • Increased number of courses with WP credit
  • Development of jobs and internships resource lists
  • Increased number of students doing internships
  • Increased number of students involved in peer mentoring and/or outreach
  • More Honors research projects in the major
  • Acquisition of modern research instrumentation and software and integration of it into classes and student research environments 
  • Increased number of Biology graduates who go into teaching K-12
  • Develop a novel role that positions out graduate program in molecular and cell biology to best enhance student career development, with programming modifications as needed to facilitate that shift
  • Submission of decision packages that together encompass all biological subdivisions
  • Increased donors supporting Biology scholarships, instrumentation and research
  • Professional advancement of faculty engaged in the implementation activities listed above

Research

Biology Implementation:

  • Develop more research opportunities for undergraduates
  • Establish a fair means of awarding teaching credit for faculty who mentor undergraduate and graduate research students that ensures a high quality of research mentorship
  • Enable the faculty to acquire and sustain external funding
  • Enable undergraduate and graduate students to identify and pursue research funding
  • Enhance research collaborations internally and with other units on campus
  • Increase our ability to attract top graduate students 
  • Increase development efforts to support research 
  • Update the department’s website to reflect its scholarly culture
  • Modify departmental standards to reward faculty efforts in improving the research culture of the department

Metrics of Success:

  • Increased number of students participating in authentic research in Biology research labs and classes and research internships
  • Increased success at garnering external funding in support of research 
  • Establishment of a database for student research funding opportunities 
  • Demonstrable and consistent inclusion of research mentorship effort as a factor in determining annual teaching assignments 
  • Increased number of multi-faculty collaborative projects 
  • Competitive graduate stipends and increased summer support for graduate students
  • Increased summer research support for undergraduates
  • Increased donor funds for research and equipment maintenance
  • Updated department website 
  • Professional advancement of facility engaged in the implementation activities listed above