The Colgate Scene
March 2004

A message from the president
A plan grounded in our strengths
 

This issue of The Colgate Scene opens with an article about the strategic plan, the map that will guide our work for Colgate over the next three to five years. In the brief space that I have here, I want to share my observations about the process by which this ambitious plan was conceived.

The strategic plan emerged organically from many directions at once as different groups analyzed, measured, and dreamed as part of the planning process. The plan encompasses the diverse interests that contribute to the busy, complex community we know as Colgate. I have never seen a planning process work better than the one that we have just concluded. That is a credit to the steering committee of faculty members and administrators, and to their leaders, for sure, but their work could not have succeeded without the generous participation of so many of you, including alumni, students, parents, members of the faculty and staff, and residents of the greater Hamilton area.

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Jack Dovidio led Colgate's planning effort. He brought to that role energy, enthusiasm, an ability to reach compromise, a sense of humor, goodwill that enabled us all to keep our perspective, and wisdom and insight borne of 26 years as a member of the faculty. Vice President for Administrative Services Mark Spiro, who arrived at Colgate four years ago with an extensive portfolio of planning experience, provided the framework and tools and collaborated with Jack to move the process to conclusion within 13 magic months. And Secretary of the College Kim Waldron '81 staffed the committee, keeping detailed records, managing logistics, and drafting many of the proposals and strategic directions. Twenty-two members of the faculty and senior administration participated on the steering committee, meeting in two-hour sessions that often took place two and three times a week, in addition to their work individually and in small groups.

The plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees at its October meeting, centers on preparing students to lead satisfying, productive lives as citizens in the modern world, whatever paths they may choose. It creates opportunities for Colgate students to experience the thrill of discovering and creating knowledge while working closely with faculty members who are at the forefront in their disciplines. It adapts the timeless values of a liberal arts education to the communication and life skills that characterize successful leaders in the 21st century. And it recognizes the importance of community, from local to global, underscoring the lifelong civic responsibility that comes with an education such as ours.

As enthusiastic as I am about this ambitious plan and what it will mean for Colgate students today and in the future, I know that it would be a failure if it were not true to the history, values, and traditions of our university. In an article on academic leadership to be published in an upcoming issue of Change magazine, my former Emory colleague Susan Frost and I wrote: "Creative leaders recognize the importance of their institution's culture as a source of strength. In this context, culture is defined as the habits and traditions that set the tone for an institution -- that is, the specific ways that stakeholders come together or stay apart."

This strategic plan is true to Colgate because so many of you took an interest and shared with the committee both your knowledge of the university and your aspirations for its future. Your participation ensured that this was an organic process, producing a plan that emerged from within and honors where we have been, as well as where we want to go, as a leading liberal arts university. I am enormously grateful for your participation and support, and I hope you will be both proud and satisfied as you watch the plan unfold.

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