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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 17, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Editorial: Strategic plan is inclusive but lacks guiding direction

I thaca College President Shirley M. Collado announced that the college would be pursuing a five-year strategic plan at the All-College Gathering held August 23. The plan is a new initiative that will guide how the college community wants to develop its overall strategic themes and goals in the coming years.

While discussing the future of the plan, Jason Freitag, associate professor in the Department of History, presidential fellow in the Department of Provost and Presidential Affairs and co-chair of the steering committee, and his fellow members of the design committee emphasized that the implementation of the plan is going to be an inclusive process from start to finish. Feedback and involvement from the community are encouraged, and the committee is pursuing multiple strategies to find it. This includes a survey that is available to all members of the community and two open forums scheduled for Sept. 13. The committee will also be seeking feedback in more unconventional ways, Belisa Gonzalez, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity and member of the team responsible for drafting the plan’s process, said.

Overall, the current steering committee is presenting themselves to the college with a spirit of inclusivity and transparency, learning a lesson from former President Tom Rochon’s strategic plan, IC 20/20, which was criticized as being top-down in its implementation. In the past, while Rochon’s plan was discussed with faculty and students, they were mostly only informed of the plan’s proceedings, rather than treated as crucial creators of the plan themselves.

Collado and the steering committee seem sincere in their emphasis on community engagement, which, hopefully, will be reciprocated by the college community. We should seize these opportunities to be involved in the future of our institution.

However, it is concerning that the strategic plan seems to so far only be a plan to plan a plan. Without any overall guiding principles from Collado, this feedback process could turn into a mess when everyone from the college comes together to add their two cents about how the institution should move forward. Personal agendas can cloud collective responsibility, and Collado and the strategic planning committee should work to guide the conversations we have as a community toward productive goals. Even though the emphasis on transparency and collaboration is admirable, the strategic plan is still a big mystery.