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This is a time of strength for the College in a number of ways.
Applications have doubled over the past decade from 1600 to more than 3200, enrollment has grown from 1250 to 1500, and the College is on course to grow to 1700 students by 2015-16. The College just completed its largest-ever development campaign, surpassing a $100 million goal. Faculty have developed nearly a dozen new majors or minors in the past several years, as well as innovative joint, accelerated degree programs with graduate and professional schools. The College has established or enhanced important on-campus centers – the Ethics Center, Center for Chicago Programs, Gates Center for Leadership and Personal Growth, Writing and Math Resource Centers – as well as new off-campus programs in China, New Zealand, Spain, the Mexican border, and Chicago.
This is also a time, however, of great challenge for liberal arts colleges like Lake Forest. The virtues of our form of undergraduate education – highly qualified faculty, small classes, student-accessible research equipment, a lovely residential campus, extensive student support systems – make a Lake Forest education increasingly expensive to provide. And too many students and parents appear either unable to pay more tuition due to recent economic travails, or unwilling because they doubt the value of the virtues just mentioned for students who need to find jobs.
Against this background, the College needs a five-year plan that takes full advantage of existing strengths, carefully navigates through today’s challenges, and sets clear priorities that will inspire support from alumni and friends.
Charge to the Committee
- Carefully examine our current strengths and challenges in light of external issues and trends in higher education;
- Realistically assess the College’s current and potential future financial, human and physical resources, and ground your work in this assessment;
- Build upon previous strategic planning initiatives, including the current enrollment growth plan, the 2005-2010 Five-Year Plan, and the Alumni Board’s recently-adopted strategic plan;
- Adopt a consultative and collaborative process that seeks input from a wide range of College stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni, etc.) and engages the campus broadly in the process of developing the new five-year plan.
- Consult, in particular, with Lori Sundberg on facilities, staffing and financial implications of potential decisions; also consult with Rich Bartolozzi, Liz Libby and Lisa Hinkley on fundraising, marketing and career-planning implications, respectively;
- Develop a new five year plan that articulates a shared vision for the College, makes and explains choices among competing priorities, sets clear goals that will inspire our next major fundraising campaign; and
- Ensure the plan is completed in time for full review and approval by the Board of Trustees no later than the fall of 2013.
Key Issues for Consideration
- Trends in course enrollments and distribution of majors and minors, and the priorities these trends suggest for program investment;
- Steps the College must take to expand, contract or otherwise strengthen our academic program so that it continues to “encourage students to read critically, reason analytically, communicate persuasively, and, above all, to think for themselves,” and, at the same time, provides them with as many meaningful career opportunities as possible;
- Priorities for academic facility improvements based on the strategic importance of the programs they house and the needs of those programs;
- Future accreditation requirements, including recent changes in HLC criteria and processes;
- How best to align the College’s co-curricular program with the academic program to ensure a fully integrated student learning experience and the best possible student outcomes;
- Whether there is, or could be, a distinctive Lake Forest College pedagogy that is broadly shared and practiced by faculty, and that could be favorably communicated to prospective students, parents and supporters as one that contrasts with what prevails on other campuses;
- Potential implications for the Forester Fundamental Curriculum for consideration by CPC;
- Whether student research opportunities should be expanded in the three academic divisions;
- The goals of off-campus programs and activities – including study abroad programs, internships, class visits to Chicago, the “In the Loop” semester, etc. – and whether changes should be made to better meet those goals;
- Current/future faculty staffing ratios (student/faculty, FT/PT, tenure-track/non-tenure-track);
- How to use on-line technologies to enhance programs and fulfill our educational mission;
- Beneficial changes in academic or administrative systems, structures or processes; and
- Opportunities for meaningful collaboration and/or cost-sharing with other institutions.