The Colgate Scene
March 2001
Table of contents
Planning Committee Report

Planning Committee Report Contents:
  1. Innovation
  2. Smaller classes
  3. Aid
  4. Environment
  5. Financing the goals of planning
Approved by the Board of Trustees November 17, 2000

At a two-day retreat in July 1998, the Board of Trustees initiated a process of planning for the university's next few years. This retreat followed approximately two years of preliminary discussions by the board, led by its Planning Committee, about the need for a thorough, board-led planning effort. The trustees felt that Colgate must undertake a far-reaching self-analysis, not only to assess its own relevance and effectiveness at the beginning of the new millennium but also to determine how the college could move significantly higher in the rankings of selective liberal arts colleges.

The overall goal of the planning effort, coming away from the retreat, was clear: improving Colgate academically -- both in actuality and in perception -- relative to its competitors. To coordinate this process, the board established in October 1998 a joint committee of trustees, faculty and administrators. This group was charged with recommending steps to achieve this goal for the approval of the board as a whole. [See Appendix for a full list of members.] In July 1999 the group met with the full Board of Trustees and issued an interim report that reiterated as Colgate's main objective the enhancement of its academic stature. In accepting that interim report the board confirmed its original charge to the group.

The recommendations in this document do not try to cover the whole of Colgate's goals for the next decade. The course of the committee's discussions and the faculty's response to its draft report suggest the importance of making explicit an obvious point: Colgate's stature as an educational institution is affected by a multiplicity of factors. The committee recognizes that almost everything Colgate does can be linked to its standing among the liberal arts colleges. Nevertheless, in keeping with the committee's original charge and with the board's charge to the new president, this report deliberately confines itself to what might raise that standing most directly.

After consultation, data gathering and discussion, the committee has identified four special targets of opportunity. All four are points of leverage, places where Colgate can expect an investment of resources and energy to make a significant impact on its standing -- and the first of the four represents an opportunity for true national distinction. The four areas are:

  • Innovation. Colgate should continue to foster innovation in support of core liberal arts values, bringing creative imagination to bear as it has throughout its history. In this endeavor Colgate should recognize that new technology can be a tool that presents significant opportunities for the advancement of these core values.

  • Smaller classes. Colgate should provide a more intimate learning environment. It should increase the size of the faculty so as to offer students smaller classes and more opportunity to work closely with faculty.

  • Aid. Colgate should increase financial aid with a view to improving the academic profile of the student body and selectivity in admissions. Specifically, Colgate should give priority to becoming an institution that admits students without regard to their need for financial assistance.

  • Environment. To attract prospective faculty and students, and hence improve the academic profile of the student body, Colgate should work to make the Village of Hamilton a more handsome, vibrant and economically sound college town. To support the proposed initiatives in innovation and intimacy on campus, Colgate should improve science and library facilities and add faculty offices and work spaces.
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