Why you should care about the Year of Planning, an editorial by President Tiefenthaler

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with two trustees at Nosh where I ran into a group of CC students celebrating a birthday. I introduced our trustees to the students and explained that the three of us were discussing the Year of Planning. To my delight (and, OK, yes, my surprise), one of students replied, “We love strategic planning.”

Although I hope that all CC students, faculty, and staff are excited about and engaged in our current planning process, I understand that some are skeptical. Catalyst News Editor Jesse Paul articulated this skepticism in his recent column, “The strategic plan vs. the present.” In the editorial, Jesse raised concerns about the emphasis on planning for the future rather than focusing on the present. “We need to think about what the Strategic Plan means for us, right now,” he suggested and asked some good questions. “Does saving and readying for the future detract from the present? Are we benefiting from the strategic plan? Will we ever?”

My answers to these questions are no, yes, and yes!

The Year of Planning is part of a process that began last year with the Year of Listening. Throughout the process, I learned a lot about Colorado College and we heard many ideas regarding the improvement of CC. While some of these initiatives will become part of our plan for the future, others are already being implemented. The two major concerns that were voiced by students last year were (1) the need to strengthen career preparation and (2) the importance of enhancing campus diversity and inclusion. Initiatives are under way to address both of these important issues.

Under the leadership of Professor Larry Stimpert and the Career Center staff, we are emphasizing a collaborative approach to preparing students for life after graduation by engaging our entire community: students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and employers. New initiatives include an online, searchable alumni-and-parent database, programs that highlight career options, and a campaign to secure 250 dedicated internships for CC students. We will continue to enhance our career development support in the coming year.

Building a student body of the brightest, most talented, and most interesting students is critical to our excellence. In fact, it is one of the most important things that we can do to provide a rigorous academic experience. To achieve this, we must be an inclusive and desirable destination for students from all backgrounds. Last year, we extended our recruiting efforts around the globe and, as a result, had a record number of applications. With this rich pool, we were able to enhance our diversity (27 percent students of color and 7 percent international students) and excellence (our most selective class in history). These efforts continue as we build the Class of 2017.

In addition, we are improving campus spaces. The renovated El Pomar Sports Center opened earlier this fall and the Adam Press Fitness Center addition is slated to be ready in March. This summer, we will renovate Slocum Hall.

So, we continue to improve CC even during this Year of Planning. Why, then, do we even need a strategic plan? I think that Barry Sarchett answered this question well in his letter to the faculty, “Strategic Planning — Again.” Professor Sarchett wrote that “… we must do it again, and we must do it with as much diligence and prudence and inclusiveness as possible. Think of it as the kind of “assessment” that matters most and is most substantive … Asking what we do best and what we need to do better is second nature to us. So we are always asking what kind of institution we are and what kind we aspire to be, what kinds of students and faculty we hope to recruit, what kind of physical campus we want to inhabit, what our role should be in our local community as well as in an increasingly intimate global community, how to wisely prioritize our finite resources, how to most effectively raise more resources — all these questions and more…must be continuously asked and re-answered, but doing so reaffirms and sometimes even subtly redefines the basic values to which we subscribe.”

So, you should care about the Year of Planning. Readying for the future is not preventing us from also improving things in the present. While current students will not directly enjoy all the benefits of our planning, as CC alumni, I know that you will continue to be proud of and care about your alma mater for the rest of your lives.

Please be engaged in this process! If you have not submitted your ideas, you can do so at http://www.coloradocollege.edu/strategicplanning/. There will also be new opportunities for engagement beginning in Block 5.

Dr. Jill Tiefenthaler

Colorado College President

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