In this first in an ongoing series of videos about strategic planning at Grinnell College, President Raynard S. Kington outlines the planning process, the plan’s five areas of focus (alumni, distinctiveness, enrollment, postgraduation, and teaching), and how members of the Grinnell community can get involved.
I’m Raynard Kington. I’m the president of Grinnell College, and we’re about to begin a really interesting, important discussion for the following year. We are starting a strategic planning process that will, we hope, lead to a plan for how the College can continue to excel over the next 10–20 years of its history.
The kickoff ceremony tonight is a way of introducing the entire community — faculty, students, staff, local people — everyone about what’s going to happen over the next year, its importance, and why we’re doing it. It will be a great opportunity to get everyone on the same page before we begin this community discussion.
The strategic planning process for the College actually began this summer, when the board of trustees met with myself and the senior leadership from the College to think about where the College had been in recent years and what questions it thought were the important ones that needed to be answered in any strategic planning process. They came up with five areas of focus, and they gave us the charge to think about these areas and to really come back with an ambitious and creative and thoughtful plan for the future of the College. There are five areas, and our dean came up with a great mnemonic, ADEPT.
First, A for Alumni. We know that we have an incredible body of alumni all over the world who are deeply connected to the College; and yet, we don’t think that we’re doing the best possible job we can do in connecting them to the institution.
D: Distinctive. We want to really think about what makes Grinnell special, what we think distinguishes Grinnell from every other institution in the world, and how we can really make the most out of what is most distinctive about the College and our identity and our values.
E: Enrollment. There have been changes in our enrollment over the years in many ways; not all of them were deliberative. Sometimes we were very passive in how our enrollment changed, sometimes we were very deliberative and explicit in how we wanted to go. We think now is the time to really think hard about what we think is the best student body for our College.
P: Postgraduation. Again, we know that we can do a much better job of preparing our students for the full range of career options that our students pursue — whether that means graduate school in a Ph.D. program, or in a professional school, such as medicine or law. We have alumni who have done all of those, and we think we can do a better job in providing the full range of services that help our students excel in whatever areas they choose to pursue.
Finally, T for Teaching. It’s probably the single most important thing we do. We as an institution pride ourselves on the quality of teaching here and the way we connect teaching and scholarship among our faculty, and we want to think hard about how we can do a better job given the way that the world is going to change over the next several decades.
We hope that everyone who participated in the picnic and everyone who is listening now will feel welcomed and will be able to understand what we’re doing and to know how they can engage. Thank you.
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