Strategic Planning - Message from President Herbst - 2012 Skip Navigation

Letter from President Jeffrey Herbst

October 4, 2012
Portait of President Jeffrey Herbst
To members of the Colgate community,

As you know, we are now entering the second year of strategic planning. On behalf of the Advisory and Planning Committee (APC)—the group charged to guide the strategic planning process—I wanted to update you on progress to date and future plans.

Last year, the APC commissioned working groups in six areas. In addition, the Hamilton Initiative Advisory Committee of the Board of Trustees asked us to think intentionally about the future of the Hamilton Initiative and we have aligned that work with the planning on campus. To date, five of these seven groups have completed their reports: Academic Excellence, Athletics, the Hamilton Initiative, Rightsizing the Student Population, and Technology and Teaching. All except the Rightsizing report have been or will soon be discussed by the relevant governance body (e.g., Committee on Athletics for the report on athletics). We will then be searching for other means to gain input from the campus community before bringing the report back to APC and then for final evaluation by the President’s staff. The Rightsizing report does not lend itself to discussion by any of the relevant governance structures. Therefore, we hope to have it discussed at a faculty meeting (tentatively, the December or January meeting).

Two reports are ongoing. The work of the committee developing a new campus master plan was always understood to be a two-year effort. Finally, the Student Affairs Board’s work on residential education has been folded into a new working group charged by the APC titled “Living the Liberal Arts,” which is described below.

In addition to vetting the existing reports, the APC had always intended to commission several new working groups this year. We waited for the arrival of the new provost/dean of the faculty and dean of the college to undertake some of the central academic and co-curricular initiatives. With Douglas Hicks and Suzy Nelson now in those respective roles, the APC has endorsed moving forward on the promising areas described below.
  1. Working group on Learning and Teaching. Building on last year’s working group report on technology and teaching, this group will pursue the question, “What teaching innovations that promote faculty learning objectives are worth pursuing given current and forthcoming technologies?” In addition, this group will consider ways to bolster and coordinate the support structures in place for student learning, as well as support for faculty efforts at pedagogical innovation. How can faculty fruitfully learn from and share ideas with one another about experiences and practices of teaching? How can we mentor assistant and associate professors in teaching, even as they balance teaching, research, and service? The group will also focus on how we can assess the outcomes of learning and teaching innovations, including the use of promising new technologies. The co-chairs of this working group will be Nancy Pruitt, Associate Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Biology, and Adam Burnett, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Geography.
  2. Working group on Global and International Initiatives. Colgate has a long-standing and strong tradition of off-campus study groups, and we are committed to broadening the international offerings available to our students through an expansion of Colgate-approved study-abroad programs. Campus initiatives, curricular, co-curricular, and research-based, have already made globalization a reality on campus; the challenge now is to coordinate and to prioritize. In what ways could language and culture study be encouraged, given current and future technologies? How can the new Colgate study-abroad options best be developed alongside study groups? How can international students be supported and their contributions enhanced? How can on-campus programs benefit from the experiences gained by students and faculty studying abroad and participating in international research? How could the curriculum more fruitfully allow for global/international studies? This working group will consider initiatives already underway and look ahead to additional international and global initiatives that could help Colgate’s educational mission at a dynamic period of peril and opportunity for liberal arts institutions. The co-chairs of Global and International Initiatives will be Associate Professor of Economics Nicole Simpson and Associate Professor of Religion Eliza Kent.
  3. Working Group on Living the Liberal Arts. A residential liberal arts education is the hallmark of the Colgate experience, where meaningful connections between classroom and communal living further intellectual curiosity, personal growth, and professional exploration. Six principles amplify how we aim to live the liberal arts: 1) Intellectual development; 2) Citizenship, leadership and service; 3) Diversity, access, and inclusion; 4) Personal growth, health, and wellness; 5) Personal accountability; and 6) Lifelong connections. This working group will reevaluate current programs and consider new ways to build an enriching intellectual community at Colgate. How might model programs (e.g., Alumni Memorial Scholars, Benton Scholars) and living and learning programs be enhanced? How might civic engagement more directly foster an intellectual climate? Can enhanced opportunities for creativity and innovation benefit the broader Colgate community and region? How can we expand and more fully integrate summer intellectual experiences and professional explorations into students’ four-year educational trajectory? How does the Colgate experience deepen our capacity for human understanding and our exploration of differing cultures and perspectives? What types of opportunities will further students’ artistic, spiritual, and recreational development? How do students embrace community standards and hold themselves and others accountable? What traditions bolster an affinity for Colgate? Two sub-groups will take up these discussions: One co-led by Associate Professor of Psychology Spencer Kelly and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson; the other co-chaired by Associate Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies Lesleigh Cushing and Provost/Dean of the Faculty Douglas Hicks.
As always, we would appreciate your comments and would be happy to answer any questions. As you can see from the topics described above, we are now well into a process that will examine questions that are fundamental to Colgate’s future.

President Jeffrey Herbst