Draft Strategic Themes

Over the course of the strategic planning process, seven themes have consistently emerged as important and distinctive focus areas. These themes will guide our development of a new strategic plan.

Revised April 15, 2024

1. We rise as one

Lewis & Clark is greater than the sum of our parts. The collaborative potential of our three schools is boundless. Driven by a singular mission, our faculty and staff will marshal our collective resources—teaching, research, and action—to offer even greater opportunities for our students, and effectively tackle some of our greatest global challenges.

Unconstrained by barriers―of history, habit, budget, and bureaucracy―we will focus our efforts on the areas of greatest synergy, where our people, our resources, our scholarship, our location, and our aspirations meet to make the most impact.

Over the last few years, our schools have made great strides in working together to open up new pathways for our students. We have made it easier for undergraduates to pursue advanced degrees in the graduate school and law school. We have broken down silos to offer in-demand and applied skills-building through the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership. We have offered those pursuing an advanced degree in student life a campus laboratory to put their learning into practice.

A possible example of this collaborative potential would be the creation of a groundbreaking new center focused on innovative policy solutions to one of the defining challenges of our time: climate, environment, and sustainability. We have the ingredients to amplify the impact of our individual schools to address the urgent issues of climate change, climate justice, and environmental innovation. This is but one way our collective power, our scholarship and action, could offer more to our students and the planet.

As we move into the future, we must leverage the common areas of strength across the institution to increase our impact, envisioning a Lewis & Clark that transcends its current potential. As one entity, we are poised to confront society’s most intricate challenges, offering our students extraordinary educational opportunities that also have the power to reshape the world.

2. Experience beyond the classroom

A Lewis & Clark education happens inside and outside the classroom, close to home and across the globe. Societal challenges, the pace of technological advancement, and a rapidly changing workforce are transforming students’ educational needs and aspirations. Experiential and immersive learning—on and off campus—are more important than ever to equip our students for their lives and careers, some of which are in fields that may not even exist yet. Our offerings must include those that transcend the confines of traditional classrooms. Real-world engagement will complement students’ academic experiences, and build their capacity to succeed, lead, and shape the future. Such opportunities will equip students with the tools to thrive and make meaningful contributions while pursuing their degrees, as well as into their lives after Lewis & Clark.

We will address how we can organize and strengthen our experiential and applied learning initiatives. We will amplify our impact by both strengthening existing programs, such as overseas study, with its rich mix of academic and real-world learning; work-study; internships and placements; student leadership experiences; service learning; the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership; academic awards and fellowships; and by fostering new initiatives and collaborations.

As we chart our course forward, we must develop deeper integration with the Portland ecosystem. Strengthening ties with local businesses, nonprofits, and governmental entities will unlock a world of opportunities for our students to engage, to learn, and to lead.

3. Relentlessly focused on the whole student

We aspire to a robust culture of student support and engagement across the three schools, believing that a holistic approach to students’ social and emotional wellness, as well as their preparation for the future, best positions them to thrive academically and as developing individuals.

We put our students first. And so we aspire to even better anticipate and meet the needs of our diverse student populations, now and into the future.

We will build on our first-year and first-gen programs; faculty and staff mentorship; peer-to-peer support networks; diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; academic advising; and mental health resources. We will continue to expand our Community Dialogues program to make healthy, constructive dialogue an integral part of our institutional identity, foundational to who we are and how we relate to each other. A student-centered approach that focuses on simplifying administrative processes and platforms, improving communication, and reducing barriers will guide our decision-making.

In the undergraduate college, in particular, we must do more to get our students ready for success in their post-graduate lives. The Career Center plays a central role in our students’ futures from the moment they step on campus. We must strengthen our current programs to focus on outcomes and build new programs and partnerships to enhance our offerings.

4. Academic innovation to meet the future

Now is the time to be bold in developing new academic programs and curriculum that meet the needs of our students and a changing world. Within each of the three schools, and in the pathways between them, lie immense potential to enhance existing programs and degrees, and to develop new ones that prepare our students to confront and address society’s greatest challenges, whether happening just down the street or across the globe.

There is ample opportunity across all three schools to grow existing programs and develop new ones. In just the last few years, we have added minors in high-demand areas such as health studies, entrepreneurial leadership and innovation, and data science; a master’s degree in art therapy; a certificate in gender diversity in children and youth; a certificate in ecotherapies; and degree programs in animal law and a JD certificate in energy, innovation, and sustainability law. We are now considering new degree programs in climate justice and a bachelor’s degree in data science.

Lewis & Clark not only educates the leaders of tomorrow, we shape the future. We must dream big―and then marshal our collective will to make those dreams a reality to serve our students and create a better tomorrow.

5. Partnerships with Portland for the benefit of all

We are a vital part of Portland and can play a greater role in building a better Portland for all, while engaging our students in impactful, community-focused, skills-building work. The foundation for a productive and mutually beneficial partnership has already been built. We will significantly increase our impact by improving coordination across and within the three schools, collectively harnessing our resources and talents to bring positive change to the Portland community.

The strengths of our institution will be leveraged to bolster the city and help address some of its most intractable challenges. Partnerships with businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, and community groups will provide boundless opportunities to enhance our students’ experiential learning, practical skills-building, networking and career pathways. We will be part of Portland’s revitalization and renaissance, envisioning and building a shared future.

The graduate school’s Community Counseling Center and education internships and the law school’s Small Business Legal Clinic and the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic are just a few great examples of avenues for positive engagement with increasing numbers of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits in the Portland metropolitan area, especially among traditionally underserved populations.

In the undergraduate college, the Connect-Portland (PDX) course designation highlights the experiential and inquiry-based learning that derives from our location in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. We will continue to increase our positive local impact while empowering our students to become stewards of change in their communities.

The Lewis & Clark Portland Connections (LC-PC) Council brings together those who share an interest in opportunities for connection with and contributions to the well-being of the broader metropolitan community. There is great potential for enhanced collaboration, working together for the benefit of all.

6. A learning community where everyone can learn and thrive

Lewis & Clark is a learning community committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion: we believe that people learn best, and flourish the most, when they encounter perspectives, people, backgrounds, and experiences other than their own. Diversity provides the best educational environment, equity guides our sense of fairness and justice, and inclusion creates a sense of belonging.

As we look ahead to the future of Lewis & Clark, we must better prepare for a more diverse and justice-minded student body, and we must respond to social inequities that we see in society and on our own campus. We must become more accessible and approachable to students with a wide variety of lived experiences, students who don‘t all want or need the same things. We must provide programming that welcomes and reflects all students, so that they see themselves in these experiences while also getting the opportunity to explore new perspectives.

Across our three schools, we will prioritize new initiatives that enhance inclusion and supports a more welcoming and supportive experience for our students, that addresses issues impacting local and regional student interests and concerns, and that makes continued progress toward growing a community of even greater diversity among our students, faculty, and staff.

Commitments to social justice thread across our three schools, where community-based opportunities for learning make a significant impact. As noted in the Partnerships goal above, our law school and graduate school are working together with the metropolitan community, helping to meet its challenges and providing valuable learning opportunities for our students. And the Center for Social Change and Community Involvement, for example, prepares Lewis & Clark undergraduate students to become active citizens through civic engagement, including volunteering, service-learning, practicums, internships, and alternative break experiences.

7. Global impact

Lewis & Clark prepares students to meet dynamic global challenges. They seek and benefit from varied and interdisciplinary globally focused curricular opportunities, our innovative approach to overseas programs, our recruitment and fostering of an international student body, and our success in preparing graduates for international work, service, and research.

We are well positioned to build on our strengths in curriculum, programming, and resources. These include our approach to offering our own immersive, language intensive and faculty-led study abroad programs throughout the world, perennial programming such as the student-run International Affairs Symposium, and more recent initiatives such as the Center for Community and Global Health. We should take a coordinated approach to bridging and building globally focused programs across all three schools.

Our undergraduate program prepares students for a globally connected world by offering opportunities across a distinctively wide range of languages, area studies programs, grant opportunities, research activities, and internship placements. Our International Law program engages students in global education within and beyond the classroom.

Our undergraduates come to us from more than 50 different countries, and our curriculum has long been rich with international perspectives that push learning beyond isolated approaches. This is true too in our professional schools. We can do more.

Across our three schools, global education initiatives will also allow us to strengthen our local engagements through social impact and equity partnerships with the many internationally focused agencies, nonprofits, and community groups that are a vital part of the Portland community.