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