Trustees approve the MHC 2021 Plan

BY JULIA DOYLE '20

Last month, the board of trustees approved the Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021, which covers the College’s priorities on a range of academic, financial and community initiatives.

The board of trustees met from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. According to an email to the Mount Holyoke community from Acting President Sonya Stephens and chair of the board of trustees Barbara Baumann ’77, the board of trustees approved the Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021 at a meeting which also included a poster session focused on the first-year experience, a review of the College’s rankings in US News and World Report, a presentation by the Climate Justice Coalition and an update on the commission on the relationship between Mount Holyoke and the Alumnae Association. Stephens and Baumann’s email stated that the meeting was “marked by energy and excitement in the face of new efforts and opportunities, and by a spirit of engaged collaboration.”

According to the Mount Holyoke website, the Strategic Planning Committee began work on the plan in the fall of 2015, and presented a draft of its work to the Board in May 2016. The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021 outlines the College’s priorities for the next five years, and includes plans to develop academic programs and global initiatives, as well as to build community, efficiency and financial resources.

Mount Holyoke describes a plan to enhance the liberal arts education by developing programs to find and introduce new students to the College. According to the plan, another goal is to advance women’s leadership in academics by offering an array of leadership development programs and developing a “case and vision for a distinguished women’s college in the 21st century.” The college also plans to build and expand teaching and learning approaches through assessments as well as amplifying research, scholarship and artistic opportunities.

According to the plan, a major priority is to develop, improve and update the “maker spaces” and technology resources in order to provide the tools and support for students, faculty and staff. Work done by students as “makers” will be linked with academic programs, and there will be an effort to integrate these “maker spaces” into academic life. The language of the plan urges students to expand their involvement in the Five College Consortium, and lays out a plan to integrate opportunities in the Five College Consortium in order to provide greater undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities. This also includes relocating the Career Development Center to an improved space and creating learning spaces to “facilitate global [and] local engagement and create more intentional opportunities to collaborate both on and off campus and around the world.”

The plan also highlighted the desire to expand global opportunities through study abroad opportunities as well as increased outreach to connect with future students as well as adapt to the changing needs of future students. In addition to connecting with future students, both domestic and international, the plan states that it “will ensure that all college policies, procedures and practices support diversity, equity, inclusivity and the full participation of all members of the campus community.” There will be additional spaces, opportunities and a community center to support common goals and engagement among students and staff. This will include an improved alumnae network both on campus and globally as well as a strengthened relationship between the Alumnae Association and the College.

Aside from these academic and community changes, the Strategic Planning Committee also established financial goals concerning both students and staff. The College hopes to develop a long-term enrollment and retention plan to accurately project expected class sizes and the breakdown of said classes. It will include faculty and staff engagement in promoting retention as well as review the processes involved in academic programs as well as administrative systems and student services with the goal of increasing efficiency and effectiveness. It also plans to create a “comprehensive plan for facilities that is tied to infrastructure development, maintenance and replacement needs,” in order to adhere to strategic priorities and to follow projected enrollment and retention. This would include prioritizing the 2014 Facilities Master Plan to develop new spaces and identifying new sources of funding, which may require creating fundraising efforts and encouraging alumnae participation.

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