MCLA Strategic Plan 2016-2017
Dear Campus Community:
Over the years, MCLA’s strategic plans have provided a foundation for the College’s development and growth. In 2014, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) reaccreditation visiting team and the NEASC Commission recognized MCLA’s record of achievement and encouraged us to build on the progress we have made. Now it is time for us to engage as a community in a new round of strategic planning for the future of MCLA, and we do so from a position of strength.
Last spring, the U.S. Department of Education recognized MCLA for graduating students from low-income families at the same rate as students from high-income families and, in 2015, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine voted MCLA as one of the 100 best colleges that combine outstanding academics at an affordable cost. When we learned this fall that MCLA had been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the Department of Education to increase retention and graduation rates of students from low-income families and students of color, I was elated and proud.
These awards, other recognition, and myriad other accomplishments are a reflection of our shared commitment to excellence and the result of hard work on the part of many – students, faculty, and staff alike. In my relatively short time as president of MCLA, I have been deeply impressed by the quality of education MCLA offers and the impact of our alumni in the wider world. As we begin a strategic planning process, I am excited and optimistic about the future.
Many people have asked me about my vision for MCLA and I have responded that the vision for MCLA’s future should be our vision, not mine. This year’s strategic planning process will provide an opportunity to identify shared hopes and common concerns about the future. Together, we will reflect on past progress, then evaluate how the College should evolve. This process will help us develop goals and strategies to address the challenges and opportunities we face today as an academic community and as the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college.
I have engaged Linda Campanella of SOS Consulting Group L.L.C. to advise and support the steering committee. Linda, a graduate of Amherst College and former chief operating officer at another liberal arts college, Trinity College in Hartford Conn., has many years of experience with strategic planning and working with higher education clients, including some within the Massachusetts State University System.
The planning process will be efficient and above all inclusive; all voices will be heard and valued. No conclusions are forgone and no answers are predetermined. I will present a draft strategic plan to the MCLA Board of Trustees in May 2017. It will be a comprehensive plan that is integrated with other planning efforts underway on campus this year, including the work of the newly reconstituted Diversity Task Force. It also will be aligned with and support goals and priorities of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
The strategic plan steering committee will endeavor to keep the campus community engaged and informed of progress throughout the coming year. I will provide periodic updates and opportunities for the campus to offer feedback.
Thank you for all you do to make MCLA a strong and distinctive institution, and for your participation in and contributions to the strategic planning process.
James F. Birge, Ph.D.
Click here for more information about MCLA's former Strategic Plans, "Moving Forward, Building Excellence" (2013), "A Vision of Excellence" (2004-2010), and Strategic Planning Accomplishments