Update from the Provost and Dean of the Faculty - Strategic Plan Skip Navigation

Letter from Douglas Hicks

April 9, 2013
Portrait of Provost and Dean of the Faculty Douglas Hicks
Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I am writing to update you on the strategic planning process.

Strategic planning seeks to build on our past accomplishments and think deeply about how Colgate can best serve its students, faculty, and staff into the future. In short, our Colgate community is undertaking strategic planning from a position of institutional strength in order to address opportunities and challenges of a dynamic higher education environment.

As you know, this has been the second year of strategic planning. Within our university governance system, as outlined in the Faculty Handbook, the Advisory and Planning Committee (APC) is charged with coordinating strategic planning and its implementation. Last academic year, APC members met with every department and program to get input on priorities. Since then, the APC has formed various working groups to address priorities identified by the community, and it will continue to draw together recommendations and ideas stemming from the various reports. I extend my thanks to the faculty members serving on the APC (four elected faculty members, the FAC chair, and the three additional faculty members recommended by FAC and appointed by President Herbst).

Early this academic year, as outlined by Jeff Herbst in his memo to the Colgate community on October 4, 2012, the APC formed and charged three working groups with substantial academic components: Learning and Teaching, co-chaired by Adam Burnett and Nancy Pruitt; International and Global Initiatives, co-chaired by Eliza Kent and Nicole Simpson; and Living the Liberal Arts, co-chaired by Lesleigh Cushing, Spencer Kelly, Suzy Nelson, and me.

Each working group proceeded to address its charge throughout this academic year. The co-chairs of each of these working groups have remained in regular contact with the APC. All of the groups have consulted broadly with faculty and other constituents. The International and Global Initiatives working group held two open faculty fora for input, and its draft report was shared and discussed at an Academic Affairs Board (AAB) meeting. The Living the Liberal Arts working group held an open faculty forum, and its draft report was discussed at an AAB meeting. Suzy Nelson has discussed the working group ideas with the Student Affairs Board (SAB) meeting and has another session scheduled later this month. These two reports were made available prior to the April 1st Faculty Meeting, and both reports were discussed there.

These discussions have been constructive. As just one example, I have had promising follow-up conversations with faculty members with leadership roles in languages/cultures/literatures about how we can all work to enhance language instruction. And I understand that the international/global working group has begun to refine its sub-recommendations in this area — even as I sense near unanimous support for the corresponding main recommendation: enhancing support for extensive language study and scholarship.

This past weekend, the co-chairs of these working groups (Eliza, Nicole, Lesleigh, and Spencer, as well as Suzy and I) discussed our draft reports with the Board of Trustees, under the auspices of the Board’s Academic and Faculty Affairs Committee. These discussions focused on the broad principles of the plan, without delving into the specific sub-recommendations. The Board is supportive of the four recommendation areas of Living the Liberal Arts and the seven recommendation areas of the International and Global Initiatives — and it is also supportive of further collaborative work among on-campus constituents to flesh out details and any implementation of these areas. This affirmation from the Board allows all of us on campus to move forward with further discussion and debate on how best to refine and implement recommendations that will benefit Colgate and our core residential liberal arts mission.

Also looking forward: The Learning and Teaching working group chairs will present a draft report at the upcoming AAB meeting, and I expect that it will hold at least one faculty forum as well. This working group’s report will be posted for the faculty to review and to discuss at the April 29th Faculty Meeting.

All of these working groups will connect their recommendations to the work of the Campus Master Planning Committee, chaired by David Hale with major contributions from five faculty members serving on that committee. As I stated at the recent Faculty Meeting, one of the most exciting aspects of the strategic planning process is the ways in which the campus master planning effort intersects with the programmatic recommendations shaping up in the working groups; for instance, the recommendations for a more compact campus coincide with, and would enable, the kinds of curricular and co-curricular integration that the LLA working group recommends, and that are, again, at the heart of our residential liberal arts mission.

I would like to thank the dozens of faculty members who have served in this strategic planning process. The co-chairs of the working groups and the APC — and I — have received valuable, constructive input on the ideas coming from these groups. Moving forward, of course, curricular matters will, as per our rules and procedures, come back to the faculty and its bodies for discussion and any actions. Other recommendations will go to the appropriate on-campus bodies, including faculty ones.

Many of you have expressed to me your enthusiasm for the fine ideas that have been emerging from these efforts of the working groups. I also understand that there are a lot of moving parts and that this has been a very active year in strategic planning. I want to reiterate that I believe that the best way forward is to continue to build an ethos of collaboration among the faculty, the administration, the Board, and other key constituencies. As President Herbst wrote in his October 2011 letter kicking off this process: “Strategic planning is most successful when the entire community is involved.” I pledge to work closely with you, and to stay in good communication with you, and I also ask that you would approach this shared effort in a constructive, collaborative spirit. If any of this is going to succeed, we have a great deal more common work to accomplish together.

Douglas Hicks