Member Update

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee welcomes its newest member, Heather Benning, associate professor of physical education, to better represent the interests of the physical education and athletics departments.

Ideas for the Future

The first "Ideas for the Future" discussion forum occurred at noon Monday, Oct. 31.  David Harrison presented a large framework through which his teaching and learning working group is trying to filter the ideas it is accumulating.  There was consensus among the group at the forum that the framework the teaching and learning working group is using is a good way of thinking about these issues.

He also presented a few ideas that his working group had been discussing, such as whether or not to have a mandatory senior capstone-type activity, the value of embodied learning versus virtual learning, distribution requirements versus no distribution requirements, departmental structure, academic schedule, and the value of individualized education.

Additional future sessions include:

  •  Distinctiveness working group - Wednesday, Nov. 9 (noon, JRC 101; 7 p.m., Harris atrium)
  • Postgraduate success working group - Tuesday, Nov. 15 (noon, JRC 101; 7 p.m., Main lounge)
  • Enrollment working group - Tuesday, Nov. 22 (noon, JRC 101; 7 p.m., Harris atrium)
  • Alumni engagement working group - Monday, Nov. 28 (noon, JRC 101; 7 p.m., Main lounge)

Outside Consultant

The College is considering engaging a research firm to better understand the interests and experiences of our prospective students and how best to serve our alumni.


We have now asked for ideas from our constituents through multiple avenues, and we are receiving a large influx of ideas.  The majority of these ideas have been delivered to the relevant working groups, so they can analyze them before the list is winnowed.  Updates will be provided to the working groups regularly.

For-Profit Work Survey

The post-graduation success group will be surveying the college community to better understand attitudes about the non-profit and for-profit sectors.  The Strategic Planning Steering Committee was involved in the discussion surrounding the survey and the phrasing it will employ.

Post-graduation Success: One-Stop Shop

One of the big ideas that the post-graduation success committee has been discussing is how to connect various offices on campus to make them all more effective.  The group has been discussing putting offices such as the CDO, the Office of Social Commitment, the proposed job center, possibly the Wilson program, and possibly the Community Service Program under one roof.  The working group suggests we would need enhanced staffing, a more visible location (preferably closer to the center of campus), and more robust technical support.  It also suggests that this group host a conference for students that have participated in internships so they can present their experiences to the community.

This idea could dovetail with an idea from the alumni engagement working group regarding having a "one-stop shop" that could connect alumni to current students.

Additionally, the post-graduation success working group is conducting a survey of all campus jobs that will help us think more about the job center.  We want students to be thinking of jobs on campus as being helpful to their careers, both in terms of résumé-building and skill building.

Alumni Engagement: Alumni College

The alumni engagement working group has been discussing the idea of an "Alumni College" as largely an online space to connect with alumni, offering various types of multimedia connections to campus and the world.  This space could offer online courses and online lectures, and could involve live-streaming, in addition to a video library.  The working group also wants to promote the idea of having more alumni returning to campus to teach or participate in academic-centered events.  Additionally, these programs would likely be open to current faculty, allowing more opportunities for faculty and staff to learn from one another.

Enrollment: Financial Aid Methods

The enrollment working group is likely to propose a revision to our current financial aid methodology.  The group has found that our current methodology creates a formula which is not as generous to students whose families represent certain areas of the income spectrum.  This may explain why many of our peer institutions claim not to provide merit aid to students whatsoever but award financial aid packages which seem to be much more generous than Grinnell's for certain categories of students.  The enrollment working group believes that changing the way we award financial aid may allow us to enroll students more consistently across socioeconomic groups.

Teaching and Learning: Coordinating Research

Among the ideas given to the teaching and learning working group are some that propose: 1) creating a digital publishing program; 2) incentivizing more interdisciplinary work among faculty; and 3) empowering the academic Centers (Humanities, International Studies, Prairie Studies), the Rosenfield Program, and Faulconer Gallery to publish work on issues of current concern.  Putting these ideas together, the T&L group will consider whether academic Centers and the Gallery could coordinate interdisciplinary research done by faculty and students, which would then be published by an in-house digital publishing outlet.  The research would reflect both the resources and themes that have been prioritized in these centers and the kind of issues the president suggests will be key in the future.  In addition, faculty might be able to serve as "fellows" in the Centers/Gallery, to allow them release time to work on the particular research being directed by the Center/Gallery.

Distinctiveness: Raising the Profile

The task of this working group is to both remind us of what is distinctive about Grinnell College and to also look at the ideas that come from the strategic planning process to see how they fit together, with the goal of painting a distinctive picture of Grinnell College

A major theme of the group's discussions have focused upon the unusual level of responsibility given to students for their college education, both in student life and the academic program -- e.g., in course selection and in the ways in which students are asked consistently to construct, rather than parrot back, knowledge.  We do that with lots of support in terms of peer, faculty, and staff mentoring.  This paradigm prepares them well for life: personal, civic, and professional.  

We had a good discussion of the issue of raising our profile and the need to be more intentional in doing so.  This requires not only better public relations, but also that we individually and collectively share the impressive array of individuals and efforts that comprise Grinnell College.  We need to determine how to encourage and support the efforts of individuals who help raise our profile, such as individuals who take leadership positions in national organizations.  We have created one element of this with the MAP program, asking those involved that the projects should aim to produce student scholarship that will be shared beyond the campus.


Update provided by the Strategic Planning Transparency Working Group

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