Before the members of our community scatter for a summer of work, research, and (I hope) some relaxation, I wanted to bring everyone up to date on the College's strategic planning- and solicit your thoughts and suggestions as we move through the next critical stage of the process.
As you know, the Trustees and my staff have worked throughout this year with the President's Planning Group (PPG) - a committee comprised of elected representatives from the faculty and staff, and student representatives selected by student leaders.
The first stage of the planning process included the development of four fundamental planning documents: a new mission statement, a set of planning principles, a set of strategic goals, and a statement of institutional values. These documents were posted for comment on the College's strategic planning website (http://www.muhlenberg.edu/committees/stratplanning/), and discussed at a number of forums for alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and members of the Allentown community throughout the winter and early spring. I am grateful for the extensive suggestions received from many of you (and others) that resulted in a number of significant improvements to these documents.
The second stage of the process involved a review of the College's various operational areas, including the academic program, academic services, international study, the Wescoe School, student life, facilities and technology, religious life, enrollment, public relations, development, human resources, and others. In each of these areas the PPG reviewed comparable data from our benchmark institutions and considered Muhlenberg's strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
The third stage is now underway. We are reviewing the costs and benefits of possible strategic initiatives in virtually every area of the College, paying particular attention to those that reflect our institutional values, conform to our planning principles, and offer the greatest promise for advancing our mission and the strategic goals we agreed on in stage one of the process. An overview of the initiatives that have been presented to date and those that are likely to be presented during the remainder of this stage is now available at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/committees/stratplanning/slogin/initiatives or in hard copy from the President's Office. (Summaries of the PPG's discussions throughout the course of the year are available on the strategic planning website). This is not public information to be shared. It is for Muhlenberg internal use only.
I must emphasize, as I did at the beginning of the planning process, that we will be confronted with difficult choices. Our imagination and creativity have already far outstripped even the boldest estimate of available resources. During the fourth and final stage of the process we will need to refine our understanding of the costs and benefits of different initiatives, work with a budget planning model, and set priorities. Many good ideas will need to be taken off the table. Some of those that do not rise to the level of strategic priorities will find their way into our ongoing annual operational goals. Only the most compelling initiatives will be included in the final plan.
It is at this key point that I seek the advice of members of the Muhlenberg campus community. Please review the overview of strategic initiatives and reflect on the choices we will need to make. Have we articulated an appropriate (and compelling) vision of the College's future? Do you support the ideas developed so far? Have we overlooked any important initiatives that should be included? Have we included ideas that you feel are incompatible with our mission or that are unimportant? What do you feel our top priorities should be?
There are risks in sharing these working documents so broadly within the community. The first risk that we will raise unrealistic expectations, producing discouragement later in the process; the second is that we will compromise the effectiveness of our plans by sharing them so broadly that they become known to our competition. I think these are risks we must take in order to keep faith with the community and keep all members of the Muhlenberg family engaged with the process. So, I emphasize once again, please understand that this overview is very broad and inclusive, that many of its proposals will not be included in the final draft of the plan, and that you should treat it as confidential.
On June 17, the Trustees will return to campus for a special planning retreat. At this time we hope to review the remaining strategic initiatives with them and test some preliminary priorities and budget scenarios. The PPG and I would very much like to have time to consider the suggestions of faculty, staff, and students prior to the Board's discussions. Please send your thoughts to me ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) no later than June 10.
In September, I will convene another campus forum to review our progress on the plan and to seek your advice once more before submitting a draft to the Board of Trustees in October. I anticipate lively discussion at the October Trustee meeting and further revision of this draft prior to final approval of the plan in January. We will then develop an implementation schedule and tools for assessing our progress, and launch into moving from plan to reality. As I've said on many occasions, the final plan must represent a shared vision of our future - your thoughts and reactions are an important part of this sharing. I look forward to receiving your ideas.