Faculty Discuss Strategic Planning Committees
Issue   |   Wed, 12/04/2013 - 02:06

After some slight technical difficulties, the faculty meeting of Dec. 3, 2013 began.

The bulk of the meeting was made up of short reports from the chairs of the strategic planning committees concerning the work that they had begun undertaking and a short discussion about the strategic planning process going forward.

The first to present was Professor Anthony Bishop, chair of the Committee on the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning. Bishop explained that the committee has started off by attempting to define what it means to be a research college and whether or not the College should still want to embrace and use that title as an identity. Bishop also explained that they have been discussing the content of undergraduate research and how to measure that to include projects besides senior theses. Furthermore, Bishop explained that, in the future, the committee will be discussing whether there is a desire among students or faculty for more research to occur on campus, and if so what the barriers currently are to that. They will look for input from different departments and disciplines about how research is currently done in those departments and how they want research to be integrated at the College in the future, as well as other topics dealing with research, teaching and learning.

Second was Professor Judith Frank, chair of the Committee on the Integration of Curricular and Co-Curricular Learning. Frank explained that her committee has focused on making the case for the four-year residential college. They will focus on intellectual foundations, personal abilities and life skills they want students to have when graduate. This will include assessing the relationship between classroom, extra-curricular and co-curricular spaces, which includes questions such as how to make residential life richer and what designs the new dorms should have. The committee will also discuss how get faculty and students to do more on campus, what or if there should be options for slow learners*, what faculty can learn from coaches, how to help sophomore slump and how to create a learning environment adequate for the goals of the College.

Third to present was Professor Rhonda Cobham-Sander, chair of the Committee on Diversity and Community. Cobham-Sander explained that the focus of her committee has been what diversity is to the College and its importance to the College in terms of students, faculty and staff. The committee plans to look into how to best create a culture that facilitates inclusion of diversity on campus and how to change the current culture of segmentation. They plan to look at findings and data found elsewhere and think of how to implement those finding at the College.

The final presentation came from Professor Amrita Basu, chair of the Committee on Internationalization of Liberal Arts Education. Basu explained that the committee has been discussion what internationalization means for education and whether gaining international fluency or competence should be a goal of the College’s education. The committee focuses on the importance of understanding how the world is changing and will focus on how to incorporate that learning into a small liberal arts college.

Provost Peter Uvin and committee chairs explained during the discussion time that the timeline for the reports from each committee is that the reports will be drafted by the spring, research will be done and feedback will be given over the spring and summer and final reports will be written and presented to the faculty next fall. Uvin also explained that the committees were designed to be integrated and will be able to build on each other’s work. He also explained that if future topics arise that the Steering Committee feels aren’t being adequately addressed yet within the committees, they will either try to find a way to integrate into a committee or will create a new committee to look into that topic.

*Correction: In “Faculty Discuss Strategic Planning Committees” (Dec. 4), the author wrote of Prof. Judith Frank’s presentation on the work of the Committee on Integration of Curricular and Co-Curricular learning, “The committee will also discuss how to get faculty and students to do more on campus, what or if there should be options for slow learners…”

What Prof. Frank had stated was “How can we ask anybody — faculty, staff, students — to do anything extra when we all labor under conditions of unrelenting busy-ness? Should we be thinking along the lines of creating the conditions of possibility for ‘slow learning?’”

“Slow learning” was meant as an analogy to “slow food.” The committee is exploring, in very preliminary ways, whether it is possible to slow down the frenetic pace of life and activities in the College community, so that people have time to interact with one another. It is not discussing how to get anybody to do more; nor is the idea of “slow learners” part of its conversation.