College of Human Ecology’s 2025 plan centers on people

Apparel and Textile Design students work on clothing designs during studio on Nov. 17, 2014 in Justin Hall. (Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian)

True to its nature, the College of Human Ecology’s 2025 plan focuses on improving its students.

Key aspects of the plan include increasing freshman to sophomore year retention rates and six-year graduation rates, as well as increasing students with meaningful international experiences.

“I believe students need to know that since January 2013, the college has welcomed new leadership with Dr. John Buckwalter as our dean; has a new department chair and school director; has welcomed the faculty, staff and students in the Department of Kinesiology; and hired new faculty within programs,” said Bronwyn Fees, the college’s interim associate dean for academic affairs.

The College of Human Ecology is also opening Ice Hall to house faculty research, a clinic and the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. Additionally, it has acquired space at Lafene Health Center to hold collaborative research on nutrition and physical activity.

“One of our challenges is prioritizing all of our goals and to come to consensus on where we will dedicate, time, energy and resources,” Fees said. “Each unit has ambitious plans to support and expand our student’s academic engagement, undergraduate research and expanding opportunities for graduate research, so narrowing the set of goals into a manageable plan demands extensive conversations between members of the faculty and may involve students.”

Joshua Allen, senior in hotel and restaurant management, said he thinks the college has the proudest students on campus.

“I would like our college to retain all of those students who consider leaving hospitality,” Allen said.

Alexis Leiker, junior in communication sciences and disorders, said she believes the college does a good job of ensuring that students have access to the resources they need to excel.

“All of my professors work hard to provide us with outside sources and materials so that we can really apply what we are learning in class to real world examples,” Leiker said. “This in turns helps prepare us for our future careers.”

Leiker is looking forward to the creation of new study abroad opportunities as part of the college’s 2025 plan progresses.

“I know there are study abroad programs for most majors, but I think the college could do a better job of making students aware of what study abroad programs could benefit us best,” Leiker said.

Overall, Leiker said she is excited about the coming changes.

“I look forward to the changes the 2025 plan will bring to the college,” Leiker said. “More involvement in research for undergraduate students will greatly impact how students learn in classrooms and in future academic settings. More research availability will also help more students get involved, which will lead to greater understanding and participation in classrooms.”

Fees shares Leiker’s excitement about the plan.

“I am most excited by Dean Buckwalter’s determination to continue to build upon the excellence in our academic programs but also his dedication to the whole student through transformative experiences within our college,” Fees said. “He is engaging students in the process of envisioning what the college needs are now and what the college could become in the next five, 10, 15 years. For example, one of his first goals was to develop a mentoring program for our students (a 2025 goal) which is now fully functioning.”

Ultimately, Fees said she knows students are the key ingredients to the success of the college’s 2025 plan.

“We are mindful that our students both create the environment of this college as well as are products of our college,” Fees said. “K-State 2025 keeps our focus on building the academic and cocurricular experiences most valuable in contributing to work and life.”