U. strategic planning framework includes student body expansion, transfer admission program reinstitution| Feb 2, 2016
The University announced its strategic planning framework, recently adopted by its Board of Trustees, on Tuesday.
The framework will focus on the University's commitment to research and the liberal arts, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusivity, affordability and service, and includes plans to accept transfer students, expand student body and create a seventh residential college.
“The vision that is expressed in the strategic framework document is one that I own wholeheartedly and am delighted to have the Trustees putting forward,” University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 Eisgruber said.
The framework identifies the University’s strategic priorities, such as expanding the student body and developing new facilities to better support engineering and environmental studies.In light of the University's mission as a residential liberal arts research university, priorities such as expanding the Graduate School are also being considered.
Among other plans, the report states that the University will institute a small transfer admissions program for the first time since 1990, in order to attract students of diverse backgrounds, including military veterans and low-income students who may have begun their post-secondary careers in community colleges. The first set of transfer applications will be considered as early as September 2018.
Specifically, it states that the Board has authorized the administration to begin planning for the addition of 500 more undergraduates, 125 students per class. To accommodate these students, a seventh residential college will be constructed.
The plan also provides for the establishment of an interdisciplinary initiative centered on environmental studies to combat climate change and other global-scale phenomena, the continued expansion of its faculty in computer science, statistics and machine learning and increased support for student entrepreneurship.
To provide resources for the initiatives, the Board authorized the administration to propose an increase to the spend rate, currently at 4.12 percent of the endowment, that would take place over fiscal years 2017 and 2018.
Eisgruber noted that different sections of the framework will be implemented on different time frames over the next few months and years, but did not provide a specific range of time, citing the complexity of the decision-making process.
“Where we can do things immediately, we will try to do them immediately; other things will happen on whatever time frame is needed in order to get them done right, because it’s very important that we do that,” Eisgruber said.
Noting that he last strategic plan was issued over 15 years ago, Eisgruber explained that many layers of planning went into the framework and that both the University’s Board of Trustees and various task forces across campus, such as the Residential College Task Force and the General Education Task Force, have taken part in the planning process.
He said the Board suggested that it will look at and potentially revise this plan at least every four years to allow for flexibility, and that the framework is designed to be flexible and revisable.
He noted that although the Board considered reports from campus task forces while preparing the plan, the initial reports by the task forces did not determine which recommendations will ultimately be implemented. Eisgruber added that there were a number of decisions, particularly those regarding finance, that fell more under the Board of Trustee’s jurisdiction, and added the framework set a basis for judging future initiatives, comparing the costs and benefits of pursuing a proposal.
While this framework concludes an intense period of strategic planning process, the campus planning process is ongoing, Eisgruber noted, and the two frameworks intersect in areas such as the increase of undergraduate admissions and its relation to student housing.
“There are planning processes that will start immediately for the expansion of the undergraduate student body, but there’s no way we can expand the undergraduate student body until we build more residential housing," he said, adding that the progress on campus planning would influence the implementation of strategic planning framework.
Eisgruber explained that during the planning process, each task force drafted a report which was then posted online to gather feedback and comments, which was then followed by extensive revisions.
He added that because this plan is meant to be a long-term strategy, there was significant consideration about which basic principles and values should guide the University over the next several years.
“There are very important paragraphs in here about diversity and inclusion. Those paragraphs speak to values that have been important to this university I would say for the past 50 years,” he said.
When these principles are taken into account in drafting the plan, he explained, the University can respond to shorter term issues by going back to the larger concepts of what it stands for and what the Board is aiming to accomplish over the next several years.
“My hope is that everyone will take the time to read through the report. I think people will find in it a set of values that resonate with the many different ways in which people care about this university and care about its future, and that they will find in there a set of priorities and principles that invite continued engagement,” Eisgruber said.
He added that the engagement and participation of students, alumni, faculty and friends of the University is crucial as the University works towards implementing broadly stated priorities. He noted that the report should be read by everyone with a perspective towards their continuing membership in the University community.
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article inaccurately stated that success of the initiatives will be reviewed by an externally commissioned task force. The 'Prince' regrets the error.