Posted by Hope Spector
Over 200 faculty, staff, and students gathered on the second floor of the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall on Friday afternoon to discuss Skidmore College's present and future Strategic Plans. The strategic plan is a tool that many institutions employ to assess current strengths and weaknesses and to plan for the future. Skidmore's current Strategic Plan was launched in 2005 and will end in 2015. Friday's event marked one in a series of events that kick off the planning process for the next Strategic Plan, which will stretch from 2015 through 2025. The event was titled "Plan 2025: Building the College's Next Strategic Step."
The room was filled with about 25 tables, each with a designated topic. Topics were delineated on large posters all around the room and they ranged from "Academic Excellence" to "Sustainability" to "Civic Engagement." There were place cards at each seat around the table designating it for a faculty member, staff or student to occupy. The room was filled to capacity and filled with lively conversation as members of the community greeted each other before the meeting began.
President Glotzbach opened the event with a series of remarks that stressed the importance of a strategic plan to the College's continued improvement. He spoke about how a strategic plan reflects institutional values and summarized what the most recent plan had accomplished (doubled the endowment, put $150 million towards improving campus facilities, saw an increasingly competitive applicant pool). He urged participants in this workshop to discuss what excellence means for the College and to discuss how we can better reach those goals.
The heart of the event was the roundtable discussion. Each group had the same list of four discussion questions:
Why is this topic important to you and to Skidmore?
How is Skidmore currently performing with this topic?
What changes should Skidmore consider regarding this topic? What evidence do you have to support this recommended change?
Given resource constraints, new initiatives often require cutbacks in other areas. What should Skidmore do less of to advance this topic?
There was a designated scribe and facilitator at each table where 45 minute independent discussions were held across the room. At this reporter's table, the discussion covered topics from the role of the tenure track process in encouraging or discouraging innovation and creativity in academic research to the uniqueness of the liberal arts experience and whether the College promotes that enough.
After 45 minutes had passed, participants were each given three small dot stickers and told to put a sticker on the posters for the topics that they believed were most important for the College to consider in developing the next Strategic Plan. There was no clear winner, a reflection of the diversity of opinions and experiences in the room.
The event continued with Part II: Celebrate 2025, a festive event in Case Center with food vendors and entertainment.