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Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

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DRAFT Strategic Plan Document for Community Comment

February/March, 2011

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.  

• •

Conceptual Cornerstones
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.

A  Landscape  for  Learning:  Sweet  Briar  possesses  a  very  nearly  unique  asset  in  the  beauty  and  extent  
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.  

A  Community  of  “Entrepreneurial  Educators:”  Sweet  Briar  can  set  the  example  for  how  not-­‐for-­‐profit,  
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.  

Action Plans
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  

number. 4

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  

rate,  Sweet  Briar  should  refine  its  ability  to  iden:fy  and  contact  high-­‐likelihood  prospec:ve  students  and  court   them.  
5  The  Dean  and  Director  of  the  Riding  Program  note  that  the  program  can  accommodate  25-­‐30  more  students  

without  a  need  for  expanded  facili:es.  
6  Target  geographic  areas  are  to  be  iden:fied  by  Admissions  based  on  observed  trends  and  may  shiP  from  year  to  

year.   5

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  the  next  several  years,  Sweet  Briar  must  juggle  compe4ng  financial  priori4es.  It  is  essen4al  to   simultaneously  maintain  support  for  a  high-­‐quality  and  aWrac4ve  program,  pay  down  exis4ng  debt,  and   restrain  endowment  spending.  Stepping  too  hard  on  the  metaphorical  financial  brakes  will  damage  our   ability  to  recruit  and  retain  students  and  to  fulfill  our  educa4onal  mission.  Stepping  too  hard  on  the   metaphorical  gas  pedal  will  accelerate  the  deple4on  of  the  endowment,  jeopardizing  our  future.     For  planning  purposes  different  forms  of  expenditure  can  appropriately  be  regarded  differently.  Inves4ng   in  developing  enrollment  and  revenue  is  one  maWer;  fulfilling  debt  obliga4ons  is  another;  maintaining  

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  

faculty  salaries  and  professional  development  as  well  as  for  equipment,  scholarships,  facili:es,  and  other  program   needs.  .
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  

undertaken  in  summer  2009,  well  before  the  launch  of  the  strategic  planning  process.   Dehne  was  asked  to  iden4fy  opportuni4es  for  increased  enrollment  in  light  of  its  market   research  among  prospec4ve  college  students.  This  list  does  not  imply  a  return  to  the   former,  and  conten4ous,  “steeples  of  excellence”  approach,  or  the  iden4fica4on  of  the   named  programs  as  superior  in  quality.  It  is  intended  to  assert  that,  strategically,  these   are  programs  that  should  be  prominently  displayed  and  showcased.  

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