By Marcelle Rutherfurd
On August 24, 2017 President Isiaah Crawford sent an email to the campus community announcing that “the university will embark this year on a process to create a strategic plan that will advance our mission and establish our vision for the next decade.” In the first email President Crawford invited students and faculty to participate in this project, a strategic planning initiative that is undertaken by the university every decade.
“I realize this forthcoming statement is a bit of a cliché, but I believe we have an excellent opportunity to make our very good university a great one, and I look forward to working with the members of our community to achieve that goal,” President Crawford said in an interview last Friday.
Since this initial announcement, the University website has created a public page with a description of the initiative. The page also contains a list of names of the people on the steering committee in charge and a timeline of how the process will unfold throughout the year.
“The strategic planning initiative is a process that the campus community goes through every 10 years in which we set out our visions, goals, and initiatives for the next decade,” Senior Nick Mitchell said.
Mitchell is a serving member of the steering committee in charge of the project. He is one of three current students directly involved with this process.
“This initiative is important to me because it shapes the future of the university and provides everyone in the campus community the opportunity play an important role in shaping the institution to better serve all parties involved. My personal goal for the planning process is that we are able to ensure that a Puget Sound education is accessible and prepares students for life after college,” Mitchell said.
President Crawford has made it clear to the campus community through multiple emails and announcements that this process is very important to him as well. President Crawford was inaugurated last spring, and this initiative will be one of the first long term projects of his presidency.
“I am very excited about the campus-wide strategic planning process we launched two weeks ago. Collaboratively across the Board of Trustees, faculty, students, staff, alumni and members of our broader community in Tacoma/Pierce County this work will help us determine the future path of the university as it endeavors to further realize its mission and next level of achievement,” President Crawford said.
“I look for us to bring our best and most creative/thoughtful energies forward to determine the three to five primary initiatives we will pursue over the next number of years to firmly position Puget Sound among the most celebrated, distinctive and rigorous liberal arts colleges in the country,” Crawford continued.
According to the University website, the steering committee had its first meeting on September 5. In this meeting the committee discussed Puget Sounds’ strengths. The committee then proceeded to question these strengths and discuss whether or not they exemplified the missions and values of the University. A Community Conversation was held several days later where members of the campus community were encouraged to participate and discuss the various strengths and weaknesses of the University.
“It is our initial impression that the university is perceived as a place of great opportunity, high academic quality, and strong and welcoming communities; that the students highly value the personal attention which faculty and staff provide; and that the university’s location, in Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest, is perceived as an attractive and high-potential educational asset,” The University webpage reads.
“We asked those attending the Community Conversation to consider the alignment among the way the university presents itself, the expectations students have, and what the students actually experience. Some expressed that the alignment could be stronger,” the webpage continues.
This statement suggests that members of the larger campus community think that Puget Sound has some work to do in terms of how the University holds up to its reputation. The members of the steering committee are very openly sharing the details of the process with the campus community via the website and email in order to encourage students and faculty to help change the campus for the better.
“The initiatives we decide to pursue will be undergirded by our unwavering commitment to make a Puget Sound education and student experience more accessible and affordable, welcoming, and fully inclusive,” President Crawford said.
Above all, the steering committee and the school administration encourage student, faculty and staff participation in this process. This strategic planning initiative is an important one as the University adapts and changes with our fast-paced modern world. The announcement of this initiative comes on the heels of multiple emails from the office of the President stating the University’s position as an open and inclusive safe space for everyone.
“I think it is important for members of the campus community to know that there are a variety of opportunities for members of the campus community, whatever capacity that might be, to play a role in shaping the future of the university for the next 10 years. I know the next Community Conversation is on Oct. 26, and will provide the campus community to learn more about the process and share their thoughts,” Miller said.
The full timeline of the strategic planning initiative extends into the spring. Meetings, community conversations and other related events will be held throughout the 2017-18 school year in order to fully flesh out the goals and values of the University.
Students and faculty who wish to be involved can read more about the initiative at pugetsound.edu/strategic-planning. The next Community Conversation will be held on October 26th.