September 14, 2017
Anyone in the Wheaton community can now submit proposals to be considered and potentially incorporated into a new round of strategic planning for the college. In the past, a few select students have been involved in the process of creating strategic plans along with administration, faculty, staff and others, but this time around all members of the Wheaton community (including faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends) can help shape some of the college’s initiatives over the next five years.
Although this decentralized process allows for greater community input and creativity, proposals must still meet certain parameters. To be considered, proposals must be submitted by Monday Sept. 18, support at least one of the college’s long-term commitments (listed on the google form) and suggest at least one program or initiative the college can cut. Guidelines for submitting a proposal and the form can be found on the Wheaton portal under “Strategic Planning…”
“Already five or six student initiatives have been submitted,” said Dale Kemp, vice president for finance and treasurer. “The student submissions are a catch-all for this whole process, almost another committee in themselves.”
President Ryken and Kemp co-chaired the Strategic Planning Group (SPG). This central committee presides over the whole process and includes members of the executive cabinet, academic deans, Student Body President Binny Sou and Graduate School Council Chair Camisha Kibble.
In their Aug. 28 letter to faculty and staff, Ryken and Kemp announced the blueprints for the new strategic plan. As members of the Wheaton community submit ideas for new initiatives they will simultaneously submit ideas for ways to discontinue old initiatives. Ryken and Kemp described how looking at new initiatives and discontinuing some others would promote the values of stewardship and allow the school to operate well, making the most of limited resources available.
The Trustees and the Senior Administrative Cabinet (SAC) have identified 11 “focus areas” for strategic planning. These areas include humanities, natural and social sciences, music/arts/communication, biblical and theological formation, graduate school, academic success, faculty development, athletics, library, vocational preparation and enrollment/affordability. Each of these focus areas has a corresponding Strategic Plan Core Committee (SPCC) comprised of faculty, staff, students and administrators. Overall, more than 150 people dedicated themselves to work throughout the year on developing new priorities and initiatives for the school.
The SPCCs have been chartered to not only provide ideas, but also to suggest programming that can be cut. A full list of SPG and SPCC members can be found on the Wheaton Portal under the “Strategic Planning…” heading.
Strategic Priorities and initiatives craft the focus of the larger institution to shape and direct the major transformative energy of its students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and donor base. Kemp told The Record, “these new priorities will not be developed because of any weaknesses in the institution and with some hidden agenda, but rather they will further benefit our mission to ‘build the Church and benefit society worldwide.’”
Grace Collard, a member of Solidarity Cabinet and former RA, represents the student body on the SPCC for Enrollment/Affordability. When asked about what it’s like to participate in SPCC, Grace said, “I do more listening than speaking, but it’s a unique view of how the priorities of different parts of administration work themselves out as policies. I value the role of getting to speak into that and affirm different priorities.” Student Government members serve on most of the SPCCs as elected representatives of the student body, but several other student groups are well represented across the various committees including the graduate school.
The first round of initiatives were developed five years ago and will be revised to accommodate the changing climate of Wheaton College and the capital campaign timelines. The Board of Trustees approved this year’s process for developing each new strategic initiative after a year-long period of brainstorming and collaboration.
Though not everyone could be a part of an SPCC or the SPG, all students and anyone in the Wheaton community can participate in the development of the next set of Strategic Priorities by submitting an initiative proposal via the “Strategic Planning” section of the Wheaton Portal. A Ted-Talk-like event will be held on Jan. 9 in Coray Gymnasium where members from each SPCC will present the new initiative priorities along with suggestions for programs to deemphasize. All faculty and staff will be invited to attend one of the two presentation sessions that day.