This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
This plan has not yet been named: community members are encouraged to propose 6tles. Louise Zingaro welcomes your sugges6ons!
Values and Vision
Sweet Briar celebrates and cherishes its heritage as a small, residen4al, liberal arts college for women, preparing students to fulﬁll their academic, professional, and personal aspira4ons by providing excellent academic and co-‐curricular programs on an expansive and inspiring campus. This has been our strength since the founding of the College more than a century ago. It remains our pride, our strength, and our excellence today. In the second decade of the 21st century, we dedicate ourselves to increasing the currency and sustainability of this tradi4on. Sweet Briar seeks to be the example that proves that “small” can be dynamic and vital, that “rural” can be sophis4cated and connected, and that the “ivy-‐tower” liberal arts gain meaning when they engage reﬂec4vely with prac4cal experience. Sweet Briar seeks to be the example that proves that “ins4tu4onal” and “entrepreneurial” thinking add value to each other: that innova4on keeps tradi4on vital while tradi4on keeps innova4on grounded. We also dedicate ourselves to puJng Sweet Briar on a more sustainable ﬁnancial foo4ng. Increased enrollment, expense curtailment, preserva4on of the endowment, produc4ve fundraising, and new revenue streams must all play a role in bringing the College into a state of ﬁnancial equilibrium. Because enrollment growth extends the impact of our mission while advancing our ﬁnancial sustainability, it is a primary focus of the current strategy. In short, our strategy is to make sure that Sweet Briar becomes, in the coming decade, the most dynamic, focused, and eﬀec4ve possible version of itself – larger than at present but s4ll among the na4on’s smallest and most personal campus communi4es; streamlined but s4ll oﬀering an appealing range of academic and co-‐curricular programs; “both market-‐smart and mission-‐centered.” 1
1 Thanks to Bob Zemsky for this phrase, versions of which he has used in many speeches, presenta:ons and
publica:ons over the years. 1
How will the College look diﬀerent in ﬁve years if this plan is successfully implemented? • Our residence halls will be full and the student-‐faculty ra4o will have reached or be approaching policy benchmark. Current revenues (from tui4on, philanthropy, and other revenue genera4ng ac4vi4es) will increase as a propor4on of the opera4ng budget and endowment reliance will decrease. Endowment spending rate will have reached or be approaching policy benchmark. Compensa4on will have reached or be approaching policy benchmark. Renovated classrooms and other learning spaces across the campus will support “digitally sophis4cated” teaching and learning and provide more aWrac4ve and appealing environments for student-‐faculty interac4on. The library renova4on will be complete. We will have an integrated campus plan for addressing maintenance and renova4on needs, including our needs with regard to accessibility and energy eﬃciency. Faculty innova4on and ini4a4ve will be supported, recognized and rewarded through the “entrepreneurial educator” program and through funds raised speciﬁcally to encourage “instruc4onal innova4on and excellence.” A streamlined academic program will clearly present students with opportuni4es for experien4al learning, “learning in the landscape,” and “digitally sophis4cated” learning as the hallmarks of Sweet Briar’s dis4nc4veness. New popula4ons of learners will be served by the residen4al undergraduate program and by non-‐degree and graduate programs. The residen4al undergraduate student body will increase in racial, ethnic, and religious diversity. Other programs will bring diversity of age and gender to campus. Sweet Briar will enjoy a stronger market posi4on, compe4ng more eﬀec4vely against regional ins4tu4ons for students and enhancing its na4onal reputa4on for vitality, currency, and relevance.
Serving An Expanded Student Body. We believe that more women (and in speciﬁc programs, men)
can and should beneﬁt from a Sweet Briar educa4on. While remaining inten4onally small and in4mate in scale, Sweet Briar will beneﬁt greatly from increased enrollment and greater diversity among the student body. Our goal is to aWract more of the students we have historically served so well while increasing the representa4on of students from a wider range of racial, ethnic, religious, and personal backgrounds. Our approach will be an asser4ve strategy of targeted, research-‐driven, and increasingly digital marke4ng coupled with highly personal and rela4onship-‐driven recrui4ng.
The plan proposes expanding the student body to ﬁll current residen4al capacity. A student body of 675 – 700 students in residence will increase the sustainability of the ﬁnancial model. Equally, if not more importantly, it will increase the intellectual diversity and vitality of the campus and the energy of co-‐ curricular life. Adding approximately 65 – 70 non-‐residen4al matriculated students (including Turning Point students, students with nearby families, and upperclass students living oﬀ-‐campus) for a total enrollment of 750 – 800 degree-‐seeking undergraduates is the ﬁrst-‐stage goal. 2 The plan also calls for enrollment growth among non-‐undergraduate-‐degree seekers. Sweet Briar wishes to provide excellent, educa4onally meaningful programs to such students through the crea4on of new programs for secondary students, addi4onal graduate programs (with a priority on using technology to develop low-‐residency models), and increased enrollment in Sweet Briar’s signature Junior Year in France (JYF) and Junior Year in Spain (JYS) programs. Such programs will enhance both revenue and reputa4on and will extend the beneﬁt of studying with Sweet Briar’s outstanding faculty to new popula4ons of students, extending the impact of our educa4onal mission.
of its landholdings. Making the most eﬀec4ve use possible of the campus for recrui4ng, for academic, athle4c and co-‐curricular programming, and for revenue genera4on is a pervasive element of the plan, which calls for increased focus on our “landscape for learning” in marke4ng, entrepreneurial eﬀorts to iden4fy revenue genera4ng opportuni4es related to our landholdings, and review by the faculty of the ways in which both curriculum and pedagogy can engage the immediately local environment and issues of environmental sustainability. The major new program concept contemplated by this plan – in the area of sustainable/organic agriculture/food produc4on -‐-‐ is in4mately related to the land and to Sweet Briar’s history as a working planta4on. Other ini4a4ves include the crea4on of “outdoor classrooms,” a curriculum review with learning in our par4cular landscape as a focus, increased support in Co-‐Curricular Life for outdoorsmanship and environmentally oriented ac4vi4es, and targeted recruitment of students with outdoorsmanship, environmental, and related interests.
mission-‐centered higher educa4on can beneﬁt from incorpora4ng elements of an entrepreneurial mindset. The plan proposes an “Entrepreneurial Educator” program which facilitates and rewards faculty ini4a4ve by suppor4ng faculty members who advance sustainable educa4onal ini4a4ves that aWract enrollment or revenue to the College, furthering mission while increasing sustainability. Sweet Briar will also seek entrepreneurial opportuni4es to generate revenue from its exis4ng assets, especially its landholdings, through business or other revenue-‐genera4ng ac4vi4es that are consistent with our educa4onal and environmental values. The plan also emphasizes partnerships which will allow Sweet Briar to eliminate ac4vi4es that do not fall within our organiza4onal core competence or to share resources with collaborators when it is ﬁnancially advantageous for us to do so. And the plan envisions a Sweet Briar which takes pride in the professionalism, produc4vity, and eﬃciency of its administra4ve and
2 Upon achievement of this goal, the ques:on will be whether to con:nue growth, and if so how, or whether to
delay growth to increase selec:vity. Assessment of the ﬁnancial implica:ons of both paths will be essen:al. But before contempla:ng this choice, we must reach capacity and examine what we have learned about demand, willingness to pay, and the evolving compe::ve environment. 3
opera4onal processes. The plan calls for direc4ng more ﬁnancial and human resources to mission-‐cri4cal ac4vi4es, minimizing the ways in which non-‐mission-‐central work and opera4onal ineﬃciencies distract both human and ﬁnancial resources. Digital Sophis5ca5on. There can be no doubt that the ability to work eﬀec4vely with digital informa4on and media is as important to women’s achievement in the 21st century as the ability to work eﬀec4vely with “tradi4onal” informa4on and media has been and s4ll is. Sweet Briar graduates increasingly need to enter into graduate educa4on, the workplace, and civic life prepared to engage with today’s digital world and to adapt throughout a life4me of dizzying technological change. There is also no doubt that technology oﬀers great poten4al beneﬁt to an ins4tu4on like Sweet Briar, located in a rela4vely remote area. Access to disciplinary experts, guest performers, unique documents and images, remote instrumenta4on, and powerful analy4c capacity is facilitated by digital technology. Wise use of appropriate technologies can ensure that a small and remote college oﬀers world-‐class resources to its students, even if those resources are located halfway around the globe. Our plan therefore envisions a more digitally sophis4cated Sweet Briar by proposing the extensive renova4on of learning spaces, the expansion of instruc4onal technology and support staﬀ capacity, curriculum review with “digital sophis4ca4on” as a priority, a strengthened administra4ve technology infrastructure, and a program of support and recogni4on for faculty pursuing technologically-‐enabled instruc4onal innova4on.
Building upon these conceptual cornerstones will result in a Sweet Briar that is “opera4ng sustainably, compe4ng eﬀec4vely, engaging new popula4ons, and producing liberally educated and digitally sophis4cated graduates,” in the words of the Star4ng Line White Paper. But, as has been frequently noted throughout this planning process, ambi4ous goals and inspiring visions only make a diﬀerence if they are translated into speciﬁc ac4on plans to which all cons4tuents of the College agree to hold themselves accountable. Below, by func4onal area, a series of ac4on plans outline the work to be undertaken in the immediate future to start us moving expedi4ously toward a more sustainable, inclusive, entrepreneurial, and digitally sophis4cated Sweet Briar. Marketing and Recruiting Action Plan Sweet Briar faces one immediate and impera4ve need: to grow enrollment as aggressively as possible without construc4on of addi4onal facili4es. Acceptable current residen4al capacity has been determined to be 688, assuming modest renova4on and repurposing of exis4ng space.3 With a slightly increased propor4on of non-‐residen4al students, we can reach a total matriculated enrollment of 750 -‐ 800. We
3 An updated inventory of residen:al space was conducted in December 2010/January 2011 and is the basis for this
can increase overall enrollment by enrolling more students in Junior Year in France (JYF) and Junior Year in Spain (JYS) programs, graduate programs, and non-‐degree programs. The compe44ve advantages that will allow Sweet Briar to aWract more students are clear. We oﬀer an unmatched “landscape for learning” and we have solid experience with “experien4al/prac4cum” learning. We oﬀer dis4nc4ve programs, including a na4onally respected equestrian program and one of only two women’s-‐college engineering programs. We have strength in academic areas known to appeal to today’s prospec4ve students. Ensuring that programs, budgets, and messages are aligned with these advantages and inves4ng in the marke4ng and recrui4ng that will make them compelling to prospec4ve students are the keys to increased enrollment through both recruitment and reten4on. Sweet Briar’s admissions and recrui4ng strategy needs to be appropriate to a small, highly dis4nc4ve, “niche” educa4onal experience. That is, the strategy needs to assume a highly eﬃcient but rela4vely narrow admissions funnel.4 Like any niche or highly specialized product or experience, Sweet Briar’s best strategy is to rely on iden4fying and reaching those most likely to value what it oﬀers as early as possible in the recrui4ng process and then cul4va4ng them intensively. To support this strategy we must: 1. Commission market research to support more eﬀec4ve targe4ng of recrui4ng resources. 2. Develop “target market” communica4ons and recrui4ng plan, with an ini4al focus on riders 5, outdoorswomen/environmentalists/girl scouts, students in target geographic areas, and others as indicated by research and experience.6 3. Increase recruitment focus on the immediately surrounding geographic area with speciﬁc aWen4on to diversity (responding to research about the geographical preferences of prospec4ve students from La4na and African-‐American popula4ons), non-‐residen4al students, Turning Point students, and transfers from community colleges. 4. Increase emphasis on videos, images, and mul4media in marke4ng and the prac4ce of engaging “out of the box” consultants and crea4ve marke4ng personnel. 5. Adjust the current print and text-‐heavy mix to increase emphasis on digital and image/video for use on line and in social networking environments while retaining the essen4al high quality print publica4ons
4 Rather than aJemp:ng to aJract many thousands of inquirers and accep:ng a rela:vely low conversion and yield
5 The Dean and Director of the Riding Program note that the program can accommodate 25-‐30 more students
6 Target geographic areas are to be iden:ﬁed by Admissions based on observed trends and may shiP from year to
6. Commission a new ﬁnancial aid matrix based on net-‐tui4on revenue modeling and current data, maintain or incrementally increase average net tui4on revenue per student, and assess this approach once current capacity is ﬁlled. Academic Action Plan The faculty has authority to deﬁne the curriculum and pedagogy of the academic program, but it does not do so in a vacuum. The faculty recognizes the centrality of its role in oﬀering an academic program that will aWract and retain an increasingly talented and diverse student body, encourage a culture of excellence among the students of the college, and prepare graduates for success in their post-‐college endeavors. And, of course, it is in the interest of the faculty to oﬀer an academic program that helps the ins4tu4on meet its reputa4onal and ﬁnancial goals. In turn, the academic ini4a4ves of the faculty require both funding and the appropriate alloca4on of support services, professional development opportuni4es, and most especially compensa4on. 1. The faculty will review those por4ons of the curriculum falling outside the major programs of study. This includes not only the requirements of the general educa4on program but also related programs such as the honors program, the teaching of wri4ng, and the developing Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) program. The goal of this review will be to determine whether a streamlined curriculum could allow more eﬀec4ve alloca4on of faculty 4me while communica4ng educa4onal priori4es more clearly to students. This review will bear in mind the strategic focus concepts of experien4al learning, the landscape for learning, and digital sophis4ca4on, asking how these concepts should ﬁnd expression in the curriculum. 2. The faculty will propose a model for an “academic priori4es commiWee” (APC) or similar body, charged with guiding the direc4on of the academic program as a whole in collabora4on with the Dean of the Faculty, Vice President for Finance and Administra4on (VPFA), and President. This body would be charged with making recommenda4ons regarding the alloca4on, crea4on, or termina4on of instruc4onal posi4ons and academic programs in light of long-‐term academic priori4es and direc4ons. 3. The faculty will inves4gate the poten4al beneﬁts of reorganizing into larger, intellectually related collegial units to encourage further interdisciplinary collabora4on and integrated curriculum planning. (Such reorganiza4on could also reduce the administra4ve burden of the faculty, collec4vely, by reducing the number of very small departments each of which requires a chair.) Working with the Dean, the faculty will consider a variety of organiza4onal models and ins4tu4onal examples and will make a recommenda4on regarding the organiza4on of faculty work. 4. Using the measures endorsed by the Sustainable Size and Ra4os (SSAR) study group, the Dean will propose goals for the number of major programs to be oﬀered and the number of courses to be taught. The Dean will work with faculty leadership (presumably through a newly-‐created APC) to plan changes in the curriculum to achieve benchmark targets by consolida4ng or elimina4ng courses and major, minor, or cer4ﬁcate programs.
5. Using the measures endorsed by the SSAR study group, the Dean and President will establish a goal for the overall student-‐faculty ra4o. The Dean will plan with faculty leadership (again, presumably through an APC) to achieve the benchmark target, taking both projected enrollment growth and projected aWri4on due to re4rements and resigna4ons into account. 6. No tenure-‐track searches, or conversions to the tenure track, will be authorized un4l plans for mee4ng benchmark targets for faculty/program/course/student ra4os have been approved and acceptable progress has been demonstrated. 7. The “entrepreneurial educator” program will oﬀer seed funding and staﬃng support to faculty members, departments, or groups of faculty collaborators who develop programs that will sustainably serve fee paying students who are not enrolled for a Sweet Briar degree (that is, high school students, seniors/re4rees/alumnae, males, adults pursuing cer4ﬁcate or personal enrichment educa4on, and so on.) 8. A fund to support “instruc4onal innova4on and excellence” will be established to support, reward, and recognize faculty members who make innova4ve changes in courses or programs to improve student learning. 9. Academic departments, programs, or collaborators will be encouraged to propose new graduate programs, with preference being given to proposals for low-‐residency programs that use campus facili4es in the summer, during breaks, or on weekends and that use technology to engage students between sessions on campus. 10. The Dean and faculty will undertake a feasibility assessment and planning process to explore the poten4al of a new academic program in the general topical area of sustainability and local agriculture/food produc4on. This idea that surfaced repeatedly throughout strategic planning discussions as uni4ng our dis4nc4ve landholdings, environmentalism, and hands-‐on learning while resona4ng with a signiﬁcant organic/local food movement in Virginia, strong current interest in food, health, and sustainability, and Sweet Briar’s own history as a self-‐suppor4ng planta4on. Various models of such a program have been proposed and many ques4ons remain to be studied by an appropriate team in order to determine whether this is a feasible opportunity and if so in what form.
Financial Action Plan For
historical but unexamined levels of opera4onal expenditure is yet a third. Our ﬁnancial strategy is to reduce ongoing opera4onal expenditures through careful discipline and strategic partnerships, to make moderate investments that will pay oﬀ in increased enrollment in the immediate term, to focus resources on our core competencies and strategic priori4es, and to recognize that the prudent course may be to allow the strain of exis4ng debt service to fall on the endowment as well as on the college’s programs for the next few ﬁscal years. 1. The Board of Directors, working with the President and Vice President for Finance and Administra4on (VPFA), will deﬁne a set of “ﬁnancial guardrails” or “planning parameters” which will ar4culate the broad ﬁnancial policy within which the College is to operate for the coming 3 – 5 years as the various aspects of this plan are implemented. 2. Sweet Briar’s primary revenue strategy will be to increase tui4on revenue by increasing enrollment while seeking to maintain or slightly increase average net revenue per student. Increased enrollment of non-‐residen4al students, students in Junior Year programs, and the graduate programs in educa4on will contribute to increased revenue; our target will be to slightly increase the propor4on of revenue from these enrollments without rebalancing the college away from the residen4al undergraduate core. 3. Eﬀorts will be launched to forge partnerships with other campuses/organiza4ons to share non-‐ mission-‐cri4cal resources and services to enhance quality or reduce opera4ng expenses when it is ﬁnancially advantageous. Such partnerships can take the form of “outsourcing” or of interins4tu4onal collabora4on and resource sharing. 4. Ini4a4ves to generate non-‐tui4on revenue will increase, including projects to iden4fy agricultural or other opportuni4es for land use and to build 12-‐month use of the campus. Opportuni4es to sell, lease, or realize revenue from eligible landholding or other assets will be ac4vely considered. 5. While the administra4on, the Board, and the faculty all recognize the essen4al importance of reducing endowment spending to a sustainable level (current policy target is 5%), under the exis4ng burden of debt service, aWaining this goal immediately would require a level of opera4ng budget reduc4on that would adversely aﬀect program, recruitment, and reten4on. For the near future we will no4onally diﬀeren4ate between the “spending rate for program,” “spending for strategic investment,” and the “spending rate for debt service,” in order to illustrate and monitor the rela4ve impact of the various kinds of spending. 6. In order to understand and coordinate priori4es in the area of maintenance and renova4on of physical plant, we will develop a holis4c campus needs assessment, incorpora4ng the energy and accessibility audits already completed into a larger and campus wide maintenance plan. Known needs in Pannell, Babcock, and Guion will be included in the plan.
Technology Action Plan Strategic priori4es in the area of technology are intended to create the condi4ons under which Sweet Briar can ensure it is oﬀering students a “digitally sophis4cated” educa4on. 1. Technology for classrooms and classrooms for technology. Renova4ng learning spaces across the campus is a top priority. The faculty technology commiWee, working with the Dean and the Director of Integrated Informa4on Services, will create a priori4zed list to guide the sequence of renova4ons as funding becomes available. 2. Students will encounter “digital sophis4ca4on” concepts and hands-‐on engagement with new technologies in the Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) program from the outset of their Sweet Briar experience. Faculty review of the curriculum will consider where else “digital sophis4ca4on” concepts should be formally incorporated, taking assessment of the technology component of the QEP pilot into account. 3. A “Fund for Instruc4onal Innova4on and Excellence”7 will be established to support faculty ini4a4ves to incorporate digital tools or resources into speciﬁc programs or courses. Crea4ng this fund will be one of our top fundraising priori4es. 4. Staﬃng will be reallocated within Integrated Informa4on Services to strengthen the Instruc4onal Technology and helpdesk/support func4ons. Enhancing staﬀ capacity in instruc4onal technology will be a mid-‐term goal. 5. Key administra4ve capabili4es will be strengthened. There are several important func4ons that require the implementa4on of new or upgraded sosware, including prospect management in admissions, on-‐line course and program evalua4on, on-‐line degree audit, on-‐line purchasing, and others. The administra4ve systems steering commiWee will develop a priori4zed list of campus-‐wide needs to inform the mul4-‐year budge4ng process.
The Fundraising Plan The College has received a thorough analysis from the consul4ng ﬁrm of Grenzebach, Glier and Associates which indicates that there is poten4al to strengthen the philanthropic support Sweet Briar aWracts though both the annual fund and major giss programs in the near term. To seize this poten4al we must: 1. Engage immediately in “readiness” prepara4ons in both the Annual Fund and major gis programs as well as in the Board Development CommiWee to support new fundraising ini4a4ves and an increased level of ac4vity.
7 This is a placeholder name. The fund may well eventually be called something diﬀerent.
2. Launch a new approach by deﬁning limited, short-‐term, targeted “strategic ini4a4ves” appeals speciﬁcally 4ed to the concepts and priori4es outlined in this plan as a way of approaching both annual fund and major gis prospects. While the ar4cula4on of the speciﬁc 4meline and design of a fundraising campaign has not yet begun and is s4ll slightly premature, the overall thrust of the next major campaign is clear; it must result as quickly as possible in increased support for academic programs (and therefore faculty salaries) and an endowment equal to at least three 4mes the annual opera4ng budget.8 Campaign goals will also address capital needs, speciﬁcally the renova4on of exis4ng spaces, but no major new construc4on ini4a4ve is envisioned for the next campaign.9 The library renova4on project currently planned will take place with funds in hand. Governance Action Plan Two ini4a4ves are intended to make shared governance more strategically focused at both the Board and faculty levels. 1. The Board of Directors, having worked with a consultant from the Associa4on of Governing Boards, has begun a review of its commiWee and mee4ng structures. Directors will con4nue to deliberate on possible adjustments to their commiWee structure, mee4ng schedule, calendar, and orienta4on and assessment programs in order to increase their ability to focus on strategic planning and governance. 2. The faculty will consider crea4ng a commiWee charged with leadership of planning for the academic program as a whole. This new commiWee, discussed under the working name Academic Priori4es CommiWee (APC) would make recommenda4ons as to the alloca4on of posi4ons and crea4on of new academic programs. It would also give leadership to the faculty in the processes of curriculum and program review. The faculty may wish to entertain corresponding changes to other faculty commiWees, in order to prevent the duplica4on of work and to avoid an increase to faculty commiWee service burdens.
We believe that if the ac4ons proposed here are carried through with discipline, energy, and consistency, Sweet Briar will advance rapidly toward a larger and more inclusive student body, a stronger reputa4on and wider recogni4on among prospec4ve families and in higher educa4on, and a more sustainable
8 Raising funds for innova:ve programs or speciﬁc subject areas has the eﬀect of increasing resources available for
9 Tusculum is one possible excep:on, as fundraising for that project has been underway for some :me. If the
reconstruc:on can be designed to serve the needs of the academic program and faculty, and if funding can be secured, that “new” building project might go forward. 10
ﬁnancial model. We will see increased enrollment, new programs for non-‐degree students and new graduate programs, a more technologically sophis4cated instruc4onal and administra4ve environment, innova4ve faculty ini4a4ves being rewarded and supported, and greater revenue-‐producing year-‐round use of facili4es and resources. It is worth remembering that this planning process has, from the outset, been conceived of as itera4ve. That is, it proposes pilots and ini4a4ves to be assessed and modiﬁed in a process of con4nuous planning and improvement. Clearly, pilot projects related to many points in this plan have already begun and are at varying stages of maturity; in many cases this plan proposes that we con4nue and expand ac4vi4es that have already launched as pilots. Once the various goals envisioned in this document have been achieved, new ques4ons will arise: in other words, this plan does not envision a des4na4on so much as the next few steps in Sweet Briar’s long journey. At best, it will not only accomplish speciﬁc goals but also usher in a new culture of planning, assessment, adapta4on, and innova4on as essen4al to the ongoing development of the College.
Appendix A – Process, Work and Contributions of the Study Groups
The process undertaken in 2010 relied on both extensive research and extensive consulta4on. Our “informa4on quarry” includes: a 117 item annotated bibliography compiled, 21 na4onal data sources consulted, 13 comparison sets deﬁned, and 18 local research projects undertaken. Our process was inclusive: 34 faculty, staﬀ, and students served on Study Groups; 800+ signed in at discussions, open mee4ngs, focus groups or completed surveys; 20 served on the Strategic Planning Steering CommiWee, including 3 members of the Board of Directors and the President of the College; 75 mee4ngs and events were held and a public blog and frequent updates were published. The Steering CommiWee is very much aware of the common and predictable disillusionment that osen emerges at the end of a widely-‐inclusive strategic planning process. Such disillusion generally ﬁnds expression along these lines: “I contributed my ideas/informa4on/perspec4ve/sugges4ons to the process and never heard any more about them” or “I heard about a lot of exci4ng possibili4es that aren’t in the ﬁnal plan. What happened to those?” An4cipa4ng such concerns, it is important to remember that the following outcomes are the direct result of the work of the study groups: 1. The “ini4a4ves quarry” is a compila4on of the proposals emerging from all study groups, which have been summarized in template form and captured for future reference and poten4al development. Some ini4a4ves appear in this plan, others are in reserve for subsequent phases, and some may never be implemented at all. All, however, have informed the discussion, and all have had their inﬂuence. 2. Sustainable Size and Ra4os (SSAR) , aser extensive study of na4onal and ins4tu4on speciﬁc data sets, answered essen4al ques4ons about what measures should cons4tute the compara4ve framework for Sweet Briar benchmarks and what studies and data indicators are meaningful. While SSAR did not establish the benchmark goals themselves (the administra4on will recommend speciﬁc goals, which the Board will review and revise or endorse as part of its “guardrails” statement) its work was essen4al in deﬁning the terms and contexts to which the administra4on and Board will look through the dura4on of this plan. 3. The contribu4on of the Digital Sophis4ca4on, Expanding Whom We Serve, and Compe44ve Advantage study groups to ar4cula4ng the (some4mes surprisingly) converging themes that direct the en4rety of this plan cannot be overstated. Without the work of these groups, several essen4al priori4es would not have emerged, including: a. Facili4es. All three groups, from their various perspec4ves, ended up no4ng the urgency of renova4ng and upda4ng exis4ng facili4es. Digital Sophis4ca4on emphasized the need to accommodate instruc4onal technologies, Expanding Whom We Serve emphasized making sure that all aspects of campus are aWrac4ve to both current and prospec4ve students, and Compe44ve Advantage noted that when we promote the beauty of the campus we risk undermining one of our strongest points of appeal if the internal spaces are not as inspiring as the external ones. This is just one example of how, working separately, the study groups developed similar priori4es.
b. Another example of convergence is the emphasis on pedagogy that operates in the intersec4on of experien4al/prac4cum/service learning. Compe44ve Advantage noted our exis4ng strength in this educa4onal model, Whom Shall We Serve noted the appeal of this style of pedagogy to today’s students, and Digital Sophis4ca4on recognized that technology allows for new ways of being “hands on” while remaining on campus. c. A third example is the “twelve month campus” concept, that would expand whom we serve by crea4ng programs for non-‐undergraduate students and exploit a compe44ve advantage by using the beauty and space of the campus as a draw, realizing revenue, suppor4ng recrui4ng, and enhancing reputa4on at the same 4me. 4. Naturally, each group also pursued non-‐overlapping, although interrelated, ideas. Expanding Whom We Serve urged the College to look at prospec4ve students in speciﬁc categories and to consider targeted and speciﬁc messaging and recruitment strategies for highly-‐desirable and high-‐likelihood-‐of-‐enrollment students. (While Digital Sophis4ca4on noted the role of digital technology in crea4ng the ability to do this is.) Digital Sophis4ca4on emphasized the need for personnel infrastructure to support faculty ac4vi4es, as well as networking and equipment infrastructure. (While no4ng that the lack of adequate technology on campus can cons4tute a compe44ve disadvantage.) Compe44ve Advantage insistently emphasized the need for coherence and consistency in messaging and presenta4on. 5. Finally, the work of the Study Groups s4mulated vital and well-‐informed discussions across the campus. Rarely have we seen a planning process lead to such produc4ve, collegial, and informa4on-‐rich discussion among colleagues and across cons4tuencies. In this way the study groups provided their colleagues with an intensive short course in Sweet Briar’s current issues.
Summary ﬁndings and recommenda5ons from the study groups 1. Sweet Briar has opportuni4es to capitalize on speciﬁc exis4ng compe44ve advantages, including the beauty and extent of its landholdings, the riding program, a history of integra4ng the liberal arts with pre-‐professional educa4onal programs, the faculty’s consistently high rankings for accessibility and student engagement, its consistently highly ranked career services oﬃce, and well-‐established major, minor, and cer4ﬁcate programs in areas sought by today’s women students: i. Environmental Studies/Life Sciences
ii. Engineering/Physical Sciences iii. Crea4ve Wri4ng/Fine and Performing Arts iv. Business/Entrepreneurship
v. Government/Public Policy/Interna4onal Aﬀairs10 2. To succeed, however, Sweet Briar needs to build strength in other areas, including: a. Exis4ng facili4es, which are func4onally and aesthe4cally below the level of the external spaces of the campus and of the newer facili4es b. Salaries and professional development support for all employees, most especially faculty (and within the faculty, the full professors, whose salaries have been aﬀected by compressions) but including staﬀ at all levels c. Endowment, which should be at least equal to 3X annual budget for ﬁnancial equilibrium and to allow for a sustainable spend rate d. Digital infrastructure for both academic, student experience, and administra4ve func4ons, including equipment, networking, and facili4es but also including support personnel and exper4se e. Scale. Sweet Briar cannot reach both excellence and sustainability at its current scale. The current mission (a full liberal arts curriculum, with a broad program of co-‐curricular ac4vi4es and a full range of campus services) requires the college to become larger. Remaining at the current size (through deliberate choice or inability to aWract more students) will require signiﬁcant redeﬁni4on of mission and a sharply focused and less comprehensive set of programs.
Appendix B: Financial Guardrails statement (being developed) Appendix C: Timeline and accountability grid, indica4ng interdependencies (being developed)
10 This list was ar4culated by George Dehne and Associates in a consul4ng engagement
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