Strategic Plan in transition

TEMP ORARY February 2, 2012 0

Elizabethtown College is currently developing a five-year strategic plan to revolutionize the look of the College for generations to come. Starting in 2012, and continuing through 2017, Etown plans to give the school an identity as a nationally-recognized college, have a vital and engaging campus and provide robust and diversified resources.

“All of the major themes in the Strategic Plan are important. We need to sharpen our identity as a nationally-recognized college, develop the ‘learning everywhere initiative’, improve our infrastructure and financial resources and do all of that understanding the financial concerns of students and their families,” Dr. Thomas Murray, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Initiative, said.

Right now, the draft of the Strategic Plan, available online, will be discussed among many groups in March. The goal is to have it implemented in April; however, the timeline is still in discussion.

First, to be nationally recognized, Etown will balance degrees to be at least 50 percent each of arts and sciences. By balancing the degrees, the College will realign undergraduate professional studies degrees such as arts and sciences degrees, where possible. In addition to balancing degrees, the school will set up a scholarship program to assist students in competitions for Fulbright, Gates, Marshall, Rhodes, Rotary and Truman scholarships.

Furthermore, Etown will expand students’ inter-cultural understanding, peace, justice and service as signature values of the College.

To the best of their ability, study abroad, exchange opportunities and joint-degree programs will be reinforced in at least one university in every continent.
Putting emphasis on service, justice and peace, Etown will boost and grow opportunities for community engagement and service learning.

Second, Etown has set a goal to offer an engaging campus. In order to provide such a campus, the Office of Admissions plans to diversify the student body.

Admissions will have a target set at admitting no more than 60 percent of all first-year applicants, at least 30 percent of first generation college students, a larger percentage of ALANA and international students, and at least 40 percent of students in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Having students accepted is one thing, but Etown plans to set and maintain a retention rate of 85 percent for first-year students.

“The College has many tools at its disposal to maintain and/or improve retention starting with the first-year program and the first-year advisers and peer mentors.  We can strengthen the transition from first-year advisers to departmental academic advisers, continue to connect students to the professionals in the Center for Student Success, and in departments like biology, we take advantage of the expertise of our upperclassmen who serve as tutors and discuss study skills and writing with our first-year students,” Murray said.

To achieve an engaging campus, Etown plans to secure and grow some programs, such as Momentum, and establish others like English as a Second Language.
“Momentum, along with other clubs and programs, will be expanded, to accommodate the growth of the school’s student body,” said Dr. Jean-Paul Benowitz, assistant director of academic advising and director of Momentum.

Athletics will be assessed to evaluate current sports effectiveness, and the administration will consider adding new sports programs to attract more diverse and academically strong student-athletes. In the near future, the College will create a completely wireless campus. Nicarry Hall and residence halls will also be renovated and enhanced.

Third, Etown plans to have more robust and diversified resources. The College proposes to establish a high quality workforce. To fulfill this, they hope to increase the diversity of the staff to reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the region (11 percent). The current annual review processes for faculty tenure, promotion and merit will be evaluated and new annual recognition awards for faculty, administration and staff will be created.

Moreover, the College plans to change their fiscal approach in an effort to have more diversified resources. Etown will employ a zero-based budgeting method during the 2012-2013 year to be put into place for the first-year class in 2014, to affirm alignment with the Strategic Plan. In addition, the College plans to investigate possible efficiencies through coordinated purchasing and restructuring of business practices. They will also fund new faculty and staff positions by re-allocation, new tuition revenues and private funds. Plus, expanding the College’s fundraising capacity is another priority. Digital portfolios will be created to track faculty and staff achievements, and improve grant applications, development and marketing.

In addition, the College will generate more money through multiple programs that are in the making or will be expanding. January Term will be revamped, as May Term and Summer programs will be expanding. In addition, some undergraduate programs will be expanded so that students can easily access graduate study at the College.

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