Early this year, members of the Elizabethtown College Board of Trustees, aided by input from the community, began work on a new Strategic Plan that would serve to move the College forward in the following five years. Since then, the plan has gone through multiple drafts, each building on the goals that received the most support. The final draft was put together and implemented in August.
The Strategic Plan focuses on three main goals: national recognition, real-world learning, and the sustainability of College resources. Within these goals there are a number of smaller tasks to be completed. The three goals have stayed intact since they were first proposed in the early drafts of the Strategic Plan.
The difference between the drafts and the final version of the plan however, is the way in which the goals will be carried out through their sub-tasks. In order to start working toward the three goals, an action plan has been issued for the 2012 – 2013 school year.
This plan seeks to divide the different tasks and assign them to the appropriate members of the Board of Trustees. Marianne Calenda, dean of students, is one of these members. Calenda helps to oversee a variety of areas on campus that deal with the health and happiness of the students in order to ensure a good quality of life on campus.
The tasks she is assigned from the action plan serve as an extension of her normal duties. Some of them include establishing interfaith programming and expanding the curricular and co-curricular offerings related to diversity and multi-culturalism.
“The idea is to have a Strategic Plan that is owned by the community,” Calenda said, “and so it makes sense that there would be different responsible parties.”
When speaking with Calenda about the Strategic Plan, it is clear that she is most excited about the College’s commitment to increasing experiential learning. “If you were to ask a student, when is it you feel like you’re having a deep learning experience? It’s usually when they are able to take a project and own that project, to feel like they’re directing the learning,” Calenda stated. “These are the kinds of deep-learning experiences that the College wants to promote.” It is these types of experiences that allow Etown to stand out as an institution.
Because there are so many different things to work on and implement through the Strategic Plan, there is likely to be a speed bump or two during the process. Some goals may be easier to reach than others. “Many of the goals represent to me a real culture change at the institution,” Calenda said. “What I’m thinking the barriers are going to be are an individual’s perception about what each one of these goals means to them.” Considering that there is such a wide array of people on campus it could be difficult to get everyone on the same page. This could make implementing some of these goals tougher than expected in the long run.
Ultimately, it seems this plan is viewed as a beneficial thing. The Board, some students, and a few members of the community have had many months to offer their input and suggestions in order to make a final draft of the plan. The final changes to the Plan were then addressed by President Carl Strikwerda and unanimously approved by the Board as being acceptable and beneficial to the College as a whole. With the action plan in effect to help push the plan forward, members of the Etown community won’t have to look far to notice some changes going on.