Strategic Plan 2017-2022: “A Call to Think Differently”

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According to MCLA President James F. Birge, the 2017-2022 Strategic Plan is a call for the College to “think differently” in order to become the nation’s top public liberal arts college by 2022.

This academic year marks the launch year of the 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, which has been in process since September 2016. On Sept. 26, members of College administration held a meeting that laid out goals for the College and different departments for the next five years, as the planning phase of the process came to a close.

The 2017-2022 Strategic Plan was guided by an 18-member steering committee, led by Co-Chairs Director of Admission Gina Puc and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Adrienne Wootters, representative of a wide range of academic and administrative departments, faculty and students.

The ultimate goal of the strategic plan is that by 2022, MCLA will be the top public liberal arts college in the country.  

Although the plan has already been written, it will be officially reviewed for final approval by the Board of Higher Education on Oct. 31. However, Birge reported at the meeting that he is confident that the Board of Trustees-approved plan will be approved, as it has already received positive feedback.   

The agenda for the Strategic Planning Open Forum was organized into seven different parts with each one building off the other and connecting to the how to achieve the overall goals of the plan.

The first presentation by President Birge, “MCLA Today and Beyond,” summarized the progress that MCLA has made and where the College currently stands, including past strategic planning initiatives that have already been made, such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives such as the hiring of a chief diversity officer, the launch of safe zone training, inter-group dialogue training and Supportive and Inclusive Community (SIC) surveys.   

In terms of academic progress, Birge cited the creation of Design Lab at 49 Main St. and four new academic programs that were created, including a three-year business degree, Community Health education, Health Science and a Public History minor.

The presentation was then divided up according to recruitment, financial stability, funding the strategic plan and how to implement short and long-term goals.        

Optimal Enrollment: The Key to Meeting Strategic Planning Goals

According to Gina Puc, director of admissions and steering committee co-chair, the most efficient way to meet these goals in five years is to achieve optimal enrollment.  

“There are a swirl of things happening nationally that we need to keep in mind and address with our nitty-gritty strategies as we implement a plan. . .they affect 5,000+ institutions nationally,” Puc said.   

Puc also explained some of the factors affecting admissions are the increased cost to recruit students, as well as a larger financial need, “free” tuition programs and tuition discounting.

“How Do We Make All Students Successful?”   

The central question at the core of Dean of Academic Affairs Monica Joslin’s presentation was how to make all students at MCLA successful, regardless of background or previous academic history.  

Pivoting from Long-Term to Short-Term Focus: Next Steps   

President Birge and Executive Vice President Denise Richardello concluded the meeting with ways to prioritize task force and steering committee opportunities.  

“[MCLA’s] mission guides the strategic goals that advance MCLA: Excellence in Teaching and Learning; Supportive and Inclusive Community; Responsive and Intentional Stewardship; and Public Purpose and Engagement,” according to MCLA’s mission statement and values statement adopted in 2013. 

According to Birge, progress on the plan with be posted and shared with the public over the next few years. If any MCLA students or community members wish to seek more information on strategic planning, a PowerPoint from the open forum and a guide on Canvas are available online at http://www.mcla.edu/About_MCLA/mission/strategic-plan/index.