Revisions as of January 12, 2004
Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities | Threats STRENGTHS
- National recognition as a highly selective liberal arts college focused on undergraduate education is increasing.
- A campus climate characterized by warmth, openness, friendliness, mutual respect, caring, and a sense of community.
- Strong emphasis on ethics and values.
- New presidential leadership with an energized message, a strategic planning initiative, a commitment to increasing the endowment and enhancing academics and student life.
- Re-energized Board of Trustees.
- Outstanding faculty and staff who devote extraordinary energy to the College and its students.
- Excellent relations between faculty and staff, with a high level of collegiality.
- Positive faculty/student relationships; faculty are accessible and approachable.
- Hard working and thoughtful students who respond well to academic challenges.
- High level of student retention and satisfaction.
- An environment where excellent teaching is, and has been, a strong value, including a Faculty Center for Teaching that encourages development and pedagogical innovation.
- Faculty includes outstanding scholars.
- Diverse and increasing academic strengths within a curriculum that embraces both the classical liberal arts and pre-professional studies.
- Theatre Arts & Dance and Biology/Pre-Med enjoy national reputations.
- Strong teaching-mentoring programs including student research, First-Year Seminars, writing assistants, learning assistants, and tutoring; highly effective delivery of student support services.
- Innovative adult continuing education through the Wescoe School.
- Dramatically improved fund raising results in recent years.
- Philanthropic parents.
- Strength of religious diversity and spiritual programs.
- A vibrant cultural life on campus and in the Lehigh Valley.
- Strong postgraduate outcomes in career, graduate school and professional school placement, and, increasingly, with student post-graduate awards.
- A demonstrated ability to accomplish much with limited resources, and a long history of living within our means and balancing the budget.
- A reputation as a well-respected employer offering a positive work environment.
- Current level of Muhlenberg student costs represents a strength in competing for students.
- The small, attractive, safe and intimate campus. Facilities improvements in the last decade have been impressive.
- Athletic programs with a national reputation for excellence.
- A strong student activities program that builds on the talents and energies of students.
- Guaranteed student housing for all four years with a variety of housing options.
- Muhlenberg lacks the financial resources of many of its competitors; as a result, the College is highly tuition-dependent.
- Muhlenberg lacks the academic reputation and name recognition of many of its competitors.
- Funding for student scholarships not competitive with benchmark institutions.
- The gift culture among College constituencies is not mature.
- Faculty salaries rank at 80 th percentile for Category IIB institutions, but the faculty salary comparisons against more selective institutions are not as favorable. Non-faculty salaries lag below medians of local and regional salary surveys.
- Inadequate financial support for faculty research and professional activities.
- Teaching infrastructure and resources do not support interdisciplinary teaching, learning and research.
- Intense competition for faculty time and energy may limit their collaboration on programming such as service learning, independent study, interdisciplinary courses, and advising student organizations.
- The merit pay system for faculty lacks transparency.
- Certain academic programs are understaffed.
- Compensation is low for adjuncts and overload and summer teaching.
- Staff Associates believe they do not have an adequate voice on campus.
- Achieving ethnic diversity remains a challenge throughout the student body and in the College work force.
- General Academic Requirements (Skills and Perspectives) do not have a clear enough rationale for students, many of whom see them simply as a list of requirements to "get out of the way."
- Grade inflation could compromise the academic integrity of the College, if not monitored carefully.
- Inadequate financial support for student research activities.
- Facilities needs continue to outstrip available resources. Infrastructure (classroom space, office space, dining facilities, lecture/programming spaces, etc.) is being strained throughout the campus.
- Science facilities do not compare to many of our competitors; technologies availability to faculty and students is also constrained by budget.
- Student housing, although presenting varied options, is not uniformly attractive throughout.
- Students perceive a lack of quality in social life and are confused about the College's stand on Greek organizations. Some perceive social life to be Greek-dominated, others perceive a lack of trust between Greeks and administration.
- The College lacks adequate parking on and around campus.
- There have been inconsistent relationships between the College and the City of Allentown. Additionally, some students perceive Allentown as a less than desirable city, and some neighbors perceive the College as less than a plus in their neighborhood.
- More effectively research and cultivate potential donors; increase level of alumni support.
- Take greater advantage of institutional research and assessment to reveal further opportunities for improvement.
- Increase focus on intellectual maturity as one of the main purposes of an undergraduate education.
- Make focus on ethics and values more visible in Muhlenberg's public profile.
- Further utilize the College's Centers and Institutesto increase our visibility locally and regionally.
- Several educational programs, strongly interdisciplinary in nature, are achieving considerable success and others are waiting to break through with faculty here to lead the way.
- Further develop programs to attract highly qualified students: include research opportunities, honors programs, and post-graduate honors.
- Build on current academic strengths to create new programs where compelling opportunities exist.
- Capitalize on growing opportunities for student-faculty research.
- Examine and upgrade technologies across campus to improve educational programming, expand research opportunities, and increase employee productivity.
- Explore opportunities to respond tostudents' growing interest in off-campus study opportunities by considering new initiatives.
- Increase venues to recognize and reward achievements by faculty, staff, and students.
- Students' interest in service, co-curricular, and extra-curricular learning provides an opportunity to further integrate intellectual and academic life with student life outside the classroom.
- Expand partnering in the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) ventures and explore other potential partnerships.
- Capture the increasing talent, energy, and enthusiasm of our students to further improve campus climate.
- Develop opportunities for community debate on social and political issues.
- The existing diversityamong our current students is not always readily evident; additional efforts to bring out these differences could be beneficial in attracting an ever-increasing variety of students.
- Exploit opportunities to more closely integrate students' academic and social experiences.
- Closely listen to students' concern about social life via student-feedback groups.
- Explore opportunities for service, leadership development, and social variety by strengthening the Greek system.
- Encourage more focused use of Muhlenberg's proximity to New York and Philadelphia to enhance academic programming, cultural life, and to convey a more lively case for student life.
- Explore development of 19 th Street and other nearby locations to create mixed retail and entertainment area resulting in further opportunities and variety in students' social life.
- Encourage all employees to participate in the cultural and intellectual opportunities the campus affords.
- Use the new fitness facility to enhance physical development and promote wellness of students, staff, and faculty.
- Expand use of facilities in summer to support innovative programming and increase revenue.
- Encourage greater use of the Graver Arboretum, the Raker Wildlife Preserve, and the parks around the campus.
- Capitalize on the Entrepreneurial Studies Program to develop ties with local entrepreneurs and businesses that can extend student internship and employment opportunities.
- Current economic conditions could affect students' attendance at private colleges; cost differential between publics and privates continues to rise.
- Lack of understanding of the value of a liberal arts education.
- Honors colleges at flagship public universities.
- A shrinking percentage of college-bound students are willing to consider high-cost private education.
- High level of tuition dependency could leave Muhlenberg vulnerable to economic and/or demographic change.
- Competing colleges, many with financial resource advantages, continue to move forward with additional buildings and additional programs.
- Our competition is imitating what we do well.
- The College's concurrent need for major capital facilities improvements, i.e., science facilities, student housing, student union.
- Competition for philanthropic dollars has increased.
- Over-reliance on accomplishments of benchmark institutions as opposed to charting our own course.
- Student gender balance is cause for concern.
- The high demand for student services (including medical, mental health, academic support, and other services) can outstrip the number of staff required to provide these services.
- Increasing pedagogical reliance on technology raises instructional costs.
- A reported increase in the number of students nationwide who are either unaware of or indifferent to standards of academic integrity.
- Muhlenberg students' high level of sensitivity about campus climate leaves the institution vulnerable when incidents occur and challenge that feeling.
- Increasing demands placed on faculty to teach, research, and engage in College service, including a heavy advising load, can lead to unproductive levels of tension.
- Faculty workload deployment and reward structure lacks systematic approach and transparency.
- Sizes of classes, if not maintained, and in some cases reduced, could damage the integrity of the classroom experience.
- Confidence in, and appreciation for faculty who serve on peer evaluation bodies, if not expressed regularly by the Board, the President, and the Dean, have the potential to damage the credibility of the process.
- Potential for interdepartmental frictions over scarce resources.
- Land-locked campus and continued building, if not done judiciously, could reduce green space and urbanize the look of the campus.
- Crime incidents in the City of Allentown continue to move westward toward the College.
- Continued expansion of student housing into neighborhoods surrounding the College will continue to cause tensions.
- The desire of more students to bring cars to campus could further complicate campus parking problems.
- National enrollment trends make gender balance in the student body increasingly difficult to achieve.
- Potential liability for student injuries in athletic programs.