Section I of The Third-Century Plan
Attracting, retaining, and supporting talented and diverse students,
faculty, and staff.
A university is, at its core, the product of the people it attracts and a union of individuals in service of learning. Truly talented students, a leading faculty, and professional staff are all required for Colgate to be among the finest colleges and universities in the nation. Colgate, therefore, must take those new steps necessary to ensure that it attracts students, faculty, and staff of remarkable promise and achievement.
Long-Term Goals and Vision: Colgate should seek to garner and apply resources to expand the pool of applicants and to enable the University to enroll the students it seeks: a diverse and talented class of students of increasing promise and achievement.
Colgate has long had success in attracting students of high academic ability. The University is widely known for offering a rigorous liberal arts education and for having a dedicated faculty, distinct programming, and an idyllic campus, among many other factors. Of late, Colgate’s scholars programs, including the Alumni Memorial Scholars (AMS), Benton Scholars, and Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS) program, are notable strengths in recruiting students of outstanding academic promise. However, to meet the ambitious third-century goals for ensuring Colgate’s place as a leader among liberal arts colleges, Colgate must further strengthen its ability to admit and enroll the most talented students and those who have a strong affinity to the University. Colgate’s capacity to compete successfully for all of these students absolutely depends upon its ability to cast a wide net, and to support those we admit.
Colgate has long relied on the enrollment of a sizeable portion of the entering class whose families can meet the fully stated price of a Colgate education. That the University is able to do so is a testament to its current strong market position. This reliance, however, is also a potential and long-term weakness. Any decrease in the national pool of such students would leave Colgate with two unacceptable options: diminished academic standards (which would, in short order, hurt the University’s competitive recruiting position) or diminished revenue.
A strong long-term competitive strategy requires expanded options, which means, first, an expanded pool of students who will seek admission to Colgate and, second, an expanded pool of resources, strategically applied, so that Colgate becomes even more attractive to the strongest students from the United States and around the world.
The rising cost of a college education and student debt continue to be topics of important national conversations. Financial considerations are often a decisive factor for students and their families as they review higher education options. Developing a no-loan initiative — in which students’ financial aid packages would contain only scholarships but no long-term loans — would benefit Colgate’s selectivity, desirability, and overall reputation. A no-loan financial aid policy sends a clear message about Colgate’s position on college affordability that is competitive with some of the best institutions in the country. Such an initiative might have to be phased in, but any movement in this direction would send a strong signal of Colgate’s commitment to seek and enroll a diverse and talented student body.
Further, Colgate must also seek a student body from a wider geographic footprint, a student body that shows the University attracting students from all corners of the nation and the world. And, of course, Colgate must attract a student body that reflects the vibrant and powerful diversity of our nation. If Colgate aspires to greatness, it cannot compromise its efforts on this point. In America today, a great institution is one that brings students of different socioeconomic backgrounds, races and ethnicities, and religions to campus. There are myriad reasons for this to be a priority, not least of which is our obligation to the broader American community in which Colgate has been permitted to prosper. Beyond any responsibilities to the commonweal, or principles by which Colgate might be motivated, is simple acknowledgment that an education today is a poor thing if it does not include firsthand engagement with a wide range of perspectives and experiences. Colgate simply cannot claim to be a first-tier institution, providing a first-tier education to its students, if it does not expose them to a rich diversity of perspectives and backgrounds in their educational and social experiences
Initiate a Phased Approach to No-Loan Policy
Increase in Admissions Outreach and Operations
Long-Term Goals and Vision: Colgate must take a number of steps in order to ensure that — in an increasingly competitive market for outstanding faculty — it attracts a diverse faculty of outstanding teacher-scholars who are uniquely suited to further the University’s academic missions and goals.
Few resources are more central to the greatness of a university than an excellent faculty — active, leading nationally and internationally prominent scholars who are committed to sharing the knowledge they create not only with peers in their academic communities but with talented students eager to learn.
At Colgate, the ideal of engaged scholars working at the forefront of their fields who are at the same time committed teachers and responsible members of their shared academic community is paramount. For Colgate faculty, scholarly excellence and outstanding teaching are not competing goods but instead mutually reinforcing ideals: the high-quality liberal arts education offered to Colgate students is built upon lively and active scholars who bring new ideas and perspectives into the classroom and transform students with their enthusiasm for their work.
In order to remain competitive on a national and international level, Colgate must focus on a number of ways to ensure it attracts, recruits, and retains an outstanding faculty.
The competition for the most talented young scholars, the future of the faculty, is intense. Colgate regularly finds itself seeking to recruit scholars who are also in the pool of candidates at the very strongest national colleges and universities. To hire first-choice candidates in every search, Colgate must take certain critical steps:
Competitive Start-up Packages: Recruiting faculty members with substantial research potential and scholarly/creative activities is highly competitive. Having the ability to provide such candidates with a competitive start-up package is vital to recruitment efforts.
Extended Pre-tenure Leaves: As part of its support for the research mission of tenure-stream faculty, Colgate seeks to establish a flexible four-course pre-tenure leave to allow faculty to engage in a robust program of research during their fourth or fifth years.
Diversifying the Faculty: The current Colgate student body is drawn from 78 nations and 48 states, and represents a spectrum of races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses. Colgate students want to learn from, collaborate with, and be mentored by faculty who reflect their geographic, racial, and experiential diversity. Most importantly in this context of attracting an excellent faculty, a new generation of incoming faculty expects campus cultures that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Colgate must seek to diversify its faculty, to bring to its classrooms, studios, and laboratories a greater range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.
Colgate currently offers competitive salaries, research and technological support, resources for conference travel and manuscript development, and abundant opportunities for professional mentoring and development. Where Colgate lags behind the leaders among liberal arts colleges is its faculty course load. Two long-term initiatives must be launched to enhance teaching at Colgate and enrich the academic enterprise generally. These long-term commitments will take considerable planning and will depend on new resources. To embrace them, however, even in recognition of the scale of the endeavors they imply, is a commitment to a remarkably stronger Colgate University.
Competitive Teaching Load: As has already been stated, Colgate must attract to its campus the most talented faculty possible. Further, Colgate must support, in the most robust ways, the faculty it has. The most substantial measure whereby Colgate could achieve these related ends, and so guarantee a universally excellent faculty well into the future, would be to adopt a competitive teaching load, aligning Colgate faculty life with that seen at the nation’s very best colleges and universities.
The five-course teaching load that characterizes Colgate is simply inconsistent with the best practices of the most elite liberal arts colleges and universities in the country. Of the top 20 liberal arts colleges in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report ranking, 12 offer their faculty a teaching load that is below Colgate’s five-course load, while two others have publicly declared their commitment to move below that as well. What makes the point even starker, however, is that of the top nine schools on the U.S. News ranking, seven have a four-course load, another has a 4.5 load, and the last has five courses spread over trimesters (so that faculty are never teaching more than two courses at any time). The connection between these lower teaching loads and high scholarly reputation is no accident: moving below the five-course load is hugely helpful both in recruiting the most talented faculty and in providing faculty at Colgate the necessary time both to remain professionally active at the highest levels and to ensure their classrooms remain dynamic. A four-course load creates more faculty time to engage students individually or in small groups, more time to grade thoroughly and respond thoughtfully to student work, more time to be reflective in course design and innovative with assignments. Faculty will have more time to guide independent studies and honors theses and to engage in faculty-student research. Given its potential both for attracting the best faculty and enhancing the vibrancy of the classroom experience, Colgate commits itself to pursuing a four-course faculty teaching load.
Conversion of Visiting Positions to Permanent Faculty Lines: Colgate often employs Visiting Assistant Professors (VAPs) to ensure curricular coverage in departments and programs where large or increasing enrollments, faculty leaves, or other changes in student or faculty numbers necessitate additional staffing. The provost and dean of the faculty, working with the vice president for finance and administration, should develop a long-term plan to strategically convert, as resources allow, VAP lines to tenure-stream positions in a way that reduces the dependence on short-term VAPs to support the curriculum.
Innovation fellowships and other supports for faculty listed throughout this document signal smaller scale investments Colgate should make in faculty excellence. A much larger, comprehensive step on this front is to create new endowed professorships, which could be known as the Third-Century Distinguished Professorships.
A named professorship is the highest academic award that the University can bestow on a faculty member, and it lasts as long as the University exists. Thus, it is both an honor to the named holder of the appointment and also an enduring tribute to the visionary donor who establishes it. Endowed chair holders receive dedicated funds to enhance their research efforts in recognition of extraordinary scholarship. Therefore, endowed chairs serve to enhance a culture of academic excellence among the faculty community. Compared to its peers, Colgate has significantly fewer endowed chairs and distinguished professorships.
By increasing the number of endowed professorships and fellowships, the University has an opportunity to raise the profile of Colgate and its faculty while also supporting other academic priorities.
Long-Term Goals and Vision: To fulfill the vision for Colgate’s third century, Colgate must be a diverse institution that not only brings diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds to campus but also fosters equity and inclusion.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts are absolutely necessary if Colgate is to achieve its third-century ambitions. A Colgate education must include firsthand engagement with a wide range of perspectives and experiences. Students must be exposed to a rich diversity of perspectives and backgrounds in their educational and social experiences in order to be prepared to engage the world beyond college. The faculty, staff, and students must reflect the diversity of the world, and this diversity must be supported through equity and inclusion in all of Colgate’s programs and policies.
While diversity, equity, and inclusion are foundational elements underlying every plan for Colgate’s third century, there are areas that require special attention in order to ensure overall success across all the DEI efforts in all the plans.
The following high-level goals will require sustained and consistent effort. As foundational requirements to fulfill Colgate’s mission, diversity, equity, and inclusion work is an ongoing effort that will need to be reviewed and renewed frequently and regularly.
Enhanced Diversity Staffing