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Strategic Planning

Hampshire campus aerial shot of Cole Science building

Hampshire College Strategic Plan 2014-2017 Final Report

September 6, 2017

In August 2013, Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees and President Jonathan Lash initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process to create a blueprint to guide Hampshire’s work over the ensuing five years, steeped in the College’s mission and true to its institutional values.

The effort was led by a Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) comprised of three faculty members, three staff members, and three students. Throughout the process, the College worked closely with Keeling & Associates (K&A), a Massachusetts-based consulting firm with expertise in improving outcomes in higher education “by creating change for learning.” A major consideration throughout was balancing the imperatives of collaboration and expansiveness with the need to ultimately determine a hierarchy of priorities. At the outset, President Lash asked all members of the community to suspend parochial interests and focus on what would be best for Hampshire, in the present and into the future. As a campus, we held ourselves to that standard to a remarkable degree.

Broad-Based and Inclusive

The SPSC and K&A spent the 2013-2014 academic year engaging members of the extended Hampshire community in a broad-based, inclusive strategic planning process. They conducted an on-line survey that drew 850 responses and 6,700 narrative comments; hosted 146 campus meetings; collected ideas and questions from more than 1,300 faculty, staff, and students; led focus groups with alumni and parents; and reviewed documents and integrated material from the College’s previous strategic planning effort. An exhaustive cataloguing and analysis of all these materials became the basis of the final strategic plan: the College’s new mission statement, vision statement, and strategic priorities and objectives.

Five Focus Areas

The SPSC distilled the community’s feedback into the following five focus areas, each with a strategic priority leader:

A. Distinctive academic program (Eva Rueschmann, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty)

B. Enrollment and retention (Meredith Twombly, Dean of Enrollment and Retention)

C. Student and community health and wellness (Byron McCrae, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students)

D. Hampshire’s influence on higher education (David Gibson, Chief Creative Officer)

E. Diversity and inclusive excellence (Kristen Luschen, Dean of Multicultural Education and Inclusion)

Approval and Implementation

Hampshire’s trustees unanimously approved the plan at its May 2014 Board meeting. Immediately thereafter, President Lash charged an Implementation Planning Group (IPG) with determining how to make the strategic priorities actionable. The IPG developed criteria for evaluating each of the many potential projects, and successfully winnowed the list from 187 to 35 proposals, representing roughly five to ten implementable projects per strategic priority.

Summary of Progress

The College completed or made significant progress on a majority of the projects in each focus area:

Distinctive Academic Program

  • Revitalize and improve functionality of Hampshire’s student-directed, inquiry- driven educational structure.
  • Develop and implement new group advising models that create cohorts of students
  • Create the workload conditions and support for faculty to do their best teaching and pursue their innovative research.
  • Build Library Learning Commons 3.0 and repurpose other adjacent spaces.
  • Build up and support academic support services that are vital to skill-building and advanced project work.
  • Support and sustain existing vital programs and explore and build new programmatic directions in sustainability, entrepreneurship, leadership/ethical engagement, and creativity/innovation.
  • Strengthen, recognize and evaluate advising as a valued category of faculty work.

Enrollment and Retention

  • Better align our financial aid strategy with Hampshire’s mission grounded in positive social change (incrementally increase need based aid, decrease merit aid over next 5 years).
  • Continue to research and refine the applicant rating criteria to better help us identify most likely "thrivers".
  • Increase emphasis on counselor/prospect relationships, increasing interview opportunities and using telephone/Skype to drive visits, applications, application completions, and deposits.
  • Engage high school guidance community and independent counselors through regular, targeted outreach.
  • Continue to lead and disrupt national conversations around admissions. As with the decision to go Test-Blind, continue to use internal inquiry and research to contribute to and drive the national discourse on college admission and access.

Student and Community Health and Wellness

  • Launch Healthy Campus Initiative to include smoke free initiatives and increasing recovery support services.
  • Achieve the next phase of the Healthy Food Transition by making bold progress on comprehensive sustainable food operations and dining service upgrades.

Hampshire’s Influence on Higher Education

  • Launch a marketing campaign and hire Chief Creative Officer to develop and lead a strategy.
  • Re-design Hampshire's website.

Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

  • Embed our commitment to diversity and inclusion in employee goals and review.
  • Enhance diversity, inclusion, and leadership programming.
  • Create an emergency fund to allow students in crises to maintain their academic focus.
  • Develop a Target of Opportunity Hiring policy and positions for faculty and administration.
  • Review and revise recruitment, search, hiring, and promotion policies.

Detailed Progress Report

The senior administrative team has conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the strategic plan. They determined which projects have been successfully completed, are ongoing, are on hold, or should be deferred to a future planning process. (With President Lash retiring in 2018, we anticipate that the new president will evaluate outcomes against the plan, build on accomplishments, and launch a new strategic planning effort at an appropriate time.) For in-depth details, please read the Strategic Plan Evaluation, dated May 2017.

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