We've Got a Plan
Unveiling the College's institutional plan, which was two years in the making.
In the spring of 1997, as I was interviewing for the position as president of Ithaca College, one question kept popping up in my discussions with faculty, staff, students, and alumni: What is your "vision" for Ithaca College? I answered that it would be presumptuous of me to think --- should I get the job --- that I had a crystal ball with which I could forecast the future of this institution and that it would take the collective efforts of those very same faculty, staff, students, and alumni to determine in which direction to steer the College.
Four years later, I am pleased to say that we have together crafted a vision for Ithaca College that will serve us well in guiding institutional decision making in the coming years. That vision is contained in a document produced under the auspices of the All-College Planning and Priorities Committee, which sought --- and found --- remarkably broad-based and active participation by all segments of the campus community.
The committee and I agreed at the start that at the heart of --- and essential to the effectiveness and success of --- all that we do is our sense of community at Ithaca College. And underlying the plan are some assumptions that will guide our next steps. These are not goals or priorities, per se, but considerations that will be constants in the way they inform the plan itself. They include fiscal stability and stewardship; the continuing importance and role of four-year residential colleges, such as Ithaca, that focus on the development of intellect and character; full recognition of the changing world of higher education; and size --- Ithaca College can anticipate modest growth, but not a dramatic change in size or academic focus.
Presented to the board of trustees at its February 2001 meeting, the strategic planning document itself was two years in the making. Though the length of the process alone is no measure of the thoroughness of the effort, it is clear that the diligence has paid off. Under the able leadership of provost and vice president for academic affairs Jim Malek, the committee has developed a plan that clearly defines the College's essential priorities --- academic program development, diversity, enrollment, experiential and performance-based learning, facilities, quality of student life, quality of work life, resource development, and technology. The plan also sets out goals, implementation strategies, and key performance indicators for those priorities. (It can be found online at www.ithaca.edu/provost/plan, and printed copies are available at the College library.)
Our next step --- implementation --- must be no less deliberate. We have, in fact, already begun to apply the plan, using it to guide the development of the College's 2001-2 budget. One result is the approval of a number of new faculty and staff positions, including a full-time director of health education programs and a half-time LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered) coordinator.
The report does not answer all of the questions facing Ithaca College in the next few years. Indeed, it even raises new questions. That is okay, because an institution's strategic planning process never really stops; otherwise, the institution itself would become static and unyielding to the forces that surround it. For this reason, the All-College Planning and Priorities Committee will continue to serve in an advisory capacity to me and to the College-wide budget committee.
I noted earlier that we have now developed a shared vision for Ithaca College. Specifically, that view is spelled out in a "vision statement" that is part of the planning document: "Ithaca College strives to become the standard of excellence for residential comprehensive colleges, fostering intellect, creativity, and character in an active, student-centered learning community."
I am proud, and so should we all be, of what has been accomplished to date. I thank all those who participated in the process and look forward to the challenges and opportunities of the coming years as we strive together to make Ithaca College "the standard of excellence."
Photo by Cascadilla Photography