College delays public report of strategic plans

| 11/12/12 11:00pm

In an attempt to better integrate feedback and synchronize the strategic planning process with the presidential search, the College has postponed public announcement of proposed strategic planning initiatives until Spring term, Interim College President Carol Folt said in a Nov. 6 email to College faculty and staff. The announcement's release was originally scheduled for this month.

Leaders of strategic planning committees comprised of faculty members and administrators from across the College are currently synthesizing reports submitted by nine working groups, according to Folt. Under the new timeline, the strategic planning committees will work through Winter term to seek feedback within the College and integrate suggestions into the strategic planning report.

"For a while, we thought that we would stick to the initial timeline and announce our strategic planning report to the community this fall," Chair of the Faculty Strategic Planning Advisory Committee and sociology professor Denise Anthony said. "However, we realized that it was not the most effective way to get real feedback."

Under the original strategy, committee members would have proposed a preliminary plan to the community for review. In order to solicit advice in a more structured manner, however, standing councils, committees, faculty members and administrative groups will have the opportunity in the winter to formally offer insight before further refinement from the "extended community," Anthony said.

During Winter term, the wider community will have the chance to become familiar with the initiative's goals prior to the reporter's formal announcement, according to Anthony.

"For those of us involved, it has been great to sit and think about where we want Dartmouth to go and discuss what improvements we could make given the necessary resources," Anthony said. "I'd like to see a larger part of the campus, including students, alumni and more staff, become involved."

Anthony also said that the delayed announcement reflects an effort to better synchronize the strategic planning report with the announcement of the new College president.

"We want whoever the new president is to be aware of the College's strategic planning initiatives and be a larger part of the conversation," she said. "The new president will have to be aware of the strategic planning initiatives, be on board and go out and advocate for them beyond Dartmouth."

Working group members said they support the extended deadline and the opportunities it presents.

"I think that this delay is strategically the only move," Director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program and member of two working groups Donald Pease said. "We seek to come up with a strategic plan that is exemplary for Dartmouth, but also a model for the ways in which strategic planning can be undertaken, deliberated and achieved in academic institutions."

Economics professor and alumni involvement working group co-chair Bruce Sacerdote agreed that the delay makes sense because it strengthens the strategic planning proposals before introducing them to the public.

"A tremendous amount of thought has gone into the idea generation and recommendation phases of the process," Sacerdote said. "I believe that Interim President Folt wants to give the working groups, faculty and staff a bit more time to add ideas and polish some of the wording."

Richard Kremer, a history professor and member of two working groups, also said he supports a delayed announcement in order to involve the new president in the initiatives' development.

"The new president will be the point person for doing the fundraising for the new strategic planning campaign," Kremer said. "We certainly will want to fold in the opinions of the new president into the proposals made by faculty and administrators."

The new president's support for strategic planning initiatives is important to the faculty, according to Lisa Baldez, government professor and research, scholarship and creativity working group member.

"I sincerely hope that the new president pays heed to the strategic planning process and takes our recommendations seriously because to me, it represents an organic set of visions by faculty members," Baldez said. "If a president came in and completely ignored our efforts, it would send a very unfortunate message to the faculty."

Geisel School of Medicine professor and research, scholarship and creativity working group co-chair George O'Toole said that although those who have not been involved with strategic planning are skeptical, he is confident of the process's long-term success.

"At the end of the day, the success or failure of strategic planning will be judged over the next decade," O'Toole said. "We need to take a long view here, not worry so much about the timing of the process plus or minus a couple of months."