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College’s five-year plan propagated

Katie Kohler | Friday, January 18, 2008

After a unanimous approval at the Board of Trustees’ meeting in October, Saint Mary’s College President Carol Ann Mooney’s “Strategic Plan” for the College has now been finalized, published and distributed to students, faculty and alumnae through the quarterly College magazine The Courier and on the College Website.

The five-year plan, which includes a series of goals and recommendations for the College, is now underway, executive assistant to the president Susan Dampeer said.

The document, entitled “Plan to Leadership 2012,” is Mooney’s five-year strategic initiative for the College to enhance Saint Mary’s national reputation and academic credentials. The Board of Trustees approved it after their first meeting of the academic year, in October.

“The trustees approved the plan unanimously and were very pleased with the way it turned out,” Dampeer said.

Mooney announced plans for the initiative in her College Forum address in August 2006 and held 12 one-hour sessions throughout the fall to explain the plan to the College community.

A committee was later formed, which included the President’s Cabinet, four faculty members, a trustee, the director of institutional research, the chief information officer, a staff representative and a student representative. Within the committee, there were subcommittees – including Academic Initiatives, Student Initiatives and Resource Planning.

Since their October meeting, Mooney made some changes to the plan, as suggested by the trustees. Most of these changes, however, were minor.

“Dr. Mooney took the board’s suggestions, but most were with the format, not with the content,” Dampeer said.

Mooney pitched the finalized plan to California alumnae between Thanksgiving and Christmas and received more positive feedback, Dampeer said.

“The plan is clear and easy to understand. There isn’t a lot of fluff and it’s all things we can realistically accomplish,” she said.

While Mooney customized her plan for the College’s present situation, she is not the first College president to enact a five-year plan. Former College President Marilou Eldred created a similar plan during her administration.

“It was in the natural progression to do [a plan] again,” Dampeer said.

Some of the goals of the plan include making Saint Mary’s more nationally recognized as one of the best colleges in the nation, diversifying the campus, stabilizing and growing enrollment and increasing financial resources. Each of the goals is followed by Mooney’s recommendations to fulfill them.

While some of the goals are lengthier than others, they all have similar priorities, Dampeer said.

“Several of the goals will be happening simultaneously,” Dampeer said. “There are certain people responsible for each goal – when it will happen, how long it should take and how much it will cost. This way we can make sure things happen.”

The plan is tailored to fit in the five-year window, but many things, such as financial aspects, retention and beautifying the campus are ongoing, Dampeer said.

Although a chosen body reviewed the plan this year, it will also be reviewed every year in order to keep it as a “living document,” as Mooney described in the plan.

“The committee will be fresh each year by virtue of the fact that people leave their positions, we hire new people, and the students change,” Dampeer said,

Currently, the committee has more than 20 members – including administration, faculty, staff and senior Maggie Siefert.

Several initiatives are already underway. The College is currently working to increase enrollment, and a committee has been formed to change the general education requirements of the College.

“Nothing happens that fast, and there certainly hasn’t been anything dramatic since October,” Dampeer said. “But things are starting and some are clearly moving.”

Dampeer, along with other members on the planning committee, are optimistic about the success of the plan.

“Sometimes you work really hard, but things just sit on the shelf,” she said. “But this is a living document that is already moving forward.”

The full text of the Strategic Plan can be found on the Saint Mary’s Web site.