Notes from Center Hall

By Andrew T. Ford, President
  March 30, 2004

At the last or next to the last faculty meeting of the fall semester, I mentioned that I was beginning to think about the next version of a strategic plan for the College. The groans emanating from the faculty could be heard all the way to Greencastle! "Didn't we just finish that Plan?" "Not again!" 'I can't believe we are going to go all through that again." That wasn't quite the reaction I had expected.

Evidently, I had temporarily forgotten how many hours so many people had invested in building the current Plan, focusing instead on how successful it had been for expressing the hopes and aspirations of so many people at, and of, the College. For two years, the Plan had gone through tens of drafts as changes were suggested and debated by Trustees, faculty, students, and alumni, before receiving final approval in May 2001.

The first version of the draft plan that we shared with alumni in San Francisco was formatted quite differently than the final version. Alumni there were the first to urge us to add the initiative, "Take full advantage of our students' four years in a rigorous residential community." We added it at the end of the plan in the next iteration, and by the time we were finished it had moved to the very first position.

Under that rubric much has happened. In this edition of Wabash Magazine you'll read about the dynamic interactions that occurred during the dedication of the new science building when students and alumni presented poster talks about their research. Much of that student research was carried out during summer internships with Wabash professors and often continued throughout several academic years.

You'll also read about Dustin DeNeal '04, who through the College's immersion learning program gained the educational benefits of international study in four different countries without missing a single semester on campus. For DeNeal, taking full advantage of four years in a rigorous residential community meant building character and camaraderie in varsity sports, tutoring students in the writing center, maintaining one of the top academic records at the College, and emerging as a fraternity and campus leader in his junior and senior years, just as his community most needed his leadership skills.

In giving voice to so many people, the Plan has enabled us to make decisions based on mission, core values, and planned initiatives. It has helped us to decide when to seize an opportunity as well as when to forego one. It has also helped people throughout the College to think about improving what we do, causing lots of activities to occur which most of us had never imagined. We have not done everything in the Plan we said we would do; nor have we done everything in the order we said we would; and the Plan did not include everything we have done. Yet, it has provided good guidance, if not an actual blueprint.

You have seen so many of these projects and activities presented in the pages of this magazine that I will not rehearse them here. You can thumb through back issues, and the Plan itself is available on our website. Indeed, not only is the Plan available, but also our semi-annual updates and progress reports of that Plan are available.

I invite you to join with others to give voice to the next Plan. Please let us know by the means you find most comfortable what we are doing that you applaud, what you would like us to stop doing, and what you would like us to start. Last time we benefited from the wisdom of hundreds of alumni, faculty, staff and students. This time we hope to benefit from thousands. Please join in so that the plan can truly give voice and vision to the extended Wabash family.

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