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Lewis & Clark’s Planning Task Force delivers its final report, outlining core values, strategic goals, and specific recommendations for the future of Lewis & Clark.
For the first time in more than 20 years, the Lewis & Clark community has engaged in a college wide planning process to help shape the institution’s future direction.
Last fall, President Tom Hochstettler began the strategic planning process for Lewis & Clark by drafting “A White Paper on Strategic Thinking.” In that document, he described the College as “poised to break through into the first rank of American institutions of liberal learning.” To help reach that goal, he convened a Planning Task Force, charging it to develop a community consensus about priorities that should shape the College’s actions over the next 5 to 10 years.
The 31-member Planning Task Force, headed by Paulette Bierzychudek, William Swindells Sr. Professor of Natural Sciences, included students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the undergraduate, law, and graduate schools, as well as members of the Board of Trustees. Through a process known as “participatory decision-making,” the task force took advantage of the creative and intellectual capital so abundant in this diverse group of individuals. In addition, many meetings with the Lewis & Clark community gave others a chance to share their views with the task force.
For six months, task force members explored five key areas: academic programs, the student body, student life, institutional structures and processes, and core values. The group’s final report, delivered in May to the Board of Trustees, included 34 specific recommendations.
Some of the report’s recommendations were anticipated, and efforts to address them are already in motion. For example, the College is currently planning for a comprehensive campaign, reviewing ways to create a more effective administrative structure, and developing quantitative benchmarks to assess quality. Other ideas will require additional thought and discussion.
“The task force report appropriately acknowledges the great strengths that already distinguish Lewis & Clark College. The growing list of faculty accolades and distinctions, plus the upward trend in the statistics on admissions and student awards, attest to the rising stature of our academic programs.” President Tom Hochstettler
But all 34 of the recommendations recognize the central role played by students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends in the College’s future. “Every one of us is part of the strategic future of Lewis & Clark,” says Hochstettler, “and every one of us is critical to our becoming the best institution of liberal learning we can be.”
5 Core Values
Early in its work, the Planning Task Force recognized that Lewis & Clark would benefit from articulating its identity and shared values more clearly. Members brainstormed preliminary ideas and then gathered thoughts from the Lewis & Clark community through on- and off-campus gatherings. They also developed a survey, which was completed by nearly 600 alumni and more than 200 faculty, staff, and students from all three schools. From this work, these five core values emerged.
1. Intellectual rigor in a supportive environment.
Although all academic institutions strive for academic excellence, Lewis & Clark situates its rigorous academic expectations within the context of a humane, supportive, nurturing, and collaborative learning environment. Faculty members of all three schools are accessible to their students and engaged with them as partners in a joint educational enterprise, both in and out of the classroom.
2. Northwest heritage, expansive horizons.
The unique character of the Pacific Northwest helps shape Lewis & Clark’s sense of place and purpose while giving the College a platform from which to engage the rest of the nation and the world. The Pacific Northwest is an unparalleled learning laboratory, providing abundant resources and opportunities for exploring issues such as globalization, urban planning, urban/rural tensions, land use, resource and ecosystem management, conservation, and sustainability. The College’s location on the Pacific Rim fosters breadth of vision, tolerance of difference, and commitment to problem-solving.
3. A passion for global engagement.
Lewis & Clark has both a legacy and a destiny of internationalism. The College strives to educate graduates who are prepared to live effectively in an increasingly globalized world. The College offers undergraduate students opportunities to live and study in more than 22 countries annually. Law and graduate students and faculty also participate in international teaching, research, and service. In addition, many Lewis & Clark students and faculty are foreign-born or have spent significant time living in another culture. Many graduates of all three schools go on to lives and careers in the international arena.
4. Community engagement.
Lewis & Clark prizes membership in community and thinks of itself as a college with a conscience. Many levels of community are important, ranging from the very local (cohorts of incoming students, citizens of residence halls, members of academic departments or offices) to the broadly global. These shared connections give community members a stake in learning more about one another, in working together, and in promoting the College’s image and mission to others. Members of the Lewis & Clark community also actively engage in life beyond Palatine Hill, pursuing learning and service opportunities as well as civic participation in Portland and in other parts of the country and the wider world.
5. Wisdom and leadership.
A Lewis & Clark education fosters reflection, thoughtfulness, self-knowledge, and the value of learning for its own sake. Individuals who receive this training are prepared to lead rich, full lives as well as to apply these virtues to becoming effective leaders in their communities and in their professions. Wise leadership is key to achievement in the workplace and in service to community and society.
6 Strategic Goals
Working from Lewis & Clark’s core values, the Planning Task Force developed 34 recommendations organized around 6 strategic goals.
1. Grow and wisely use financial resources.
Since 1990, Lewis & Clark’s endowment has risen from $31.9 million to $200 million. This growth, along with generous gifts from the College’s friends and supporters, has helped to increase the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty, acquire South Campus, and construct new academic buildings and residence halls. The College must continue to deploy existing resources as wisely as possible, however, and future initiatives will require additional growth in the endowment. The task force recommends that the College undertake a comprehensive campaign in the near future.
2. Enhance the Lewis & Clark College community.
The task force learned that different constituencies of the College sometimes know little about one another and lack the strong personal and professional connections that could help individuals work toward common goals. It recommends fostering better communication among the three schools of Lewis & Clark College and taking steps to develop a stronger sense of belonging to and pride in the College among members of the community. Because alumni are central to Lewis & Clark’s vitality, the task force recommends expanding programs and services for this key constituency. These initiatives will foster a sense of shared purpose among alumni that grows out of their continued engagement in the life of the College. In addition, the task force recommends increasing the diversity of the Lewis & Clark community, noting the importance of a diverse community in providing students with a strong foundation for living and working effectively in a diverse society, country, and world.
3. Strengthen academic programs.
The task force recommends continued improvement in the College’s academic programs, to be achieved by supporting the professional development of faculty and staff; creating more opportunities to engage students in faculty scholarship; making sure that all academic programs cultivate fundamental intellectual skills; and continuing to build on strengths and intersections among the three schools in international and environmental scholarship. At the undergraduate college, in particular, the task force recommends lowering the student-faculty ratio, strengthening academic advising, and enhancing science programs.
The most important message of the report is that we yearn to be more connected as a community. We want to know more about one another’s programs. We want other departments and offices to recognize and appreciate what we do. We want to be better informed about the common work we do and to have a stronger sense of shared ownership of this enterprise we’re all engaged in. This will help us work toward common goals. - Professor Paulette Bierzychudek
4. Attract and retain a well-qualified student body.
It is vital for Lewis & Clark to build on its existing strengths to attract and retain the best students possible. For a stronger, more diverse learning community, the College must continue to raise new sources of scholarship support. To retain students, the task force recommends that Lewis & Clark enhance both academic programs and student life initiatives.
5. Promote organizational effectiveness.
Having three different schools in one institution poses significant organizational and administrative challenges. To increase organizational effectiveness, the task force recommends improvements in reporting structures; budgeting processes; information sharing; long-term planning; and employee training, compensation, evaluation, and recognition.
6. Improve the campus infrastructure.
Dramatic improvements in physical facilities over the past 15 years have greatly enhanced the College’s ability to offer a first-rate education. The task force recommends that this momentum must continue. The undergraduate college needs new science facilities to complete the campus academic plan, and the law and graduate schools have identified additional infrastructure needs. Other improvements that could benefit all three schools include more student residences, a student center, a performing arts center, and improved parking and transportation options.