President Creighton opened the first faculty meeting of spring semester on February 7, saying, "I want to genuinely be one of you, a faculty member engaged in substantive intellectual work, and I hope that you will feel genuinely a part of this administration, a participant in the governance of the institution."
"I want to direct our collective attention to the key issues that will affect our collective fortunes," she continued. Among those issues, Creighton noted, are maintaining first-class academics and an inclusive community, and showing that a women's college is "not an anachronism of the past, but an idea for our time, a time radically transformed by thirty years of feminism."
The College has an overarching need for strategic planning, she stressed. "The overall purpose of this exercise will be to strengthen Mount Holyoke College through reflection, assessment, articulation of purpose and direction, and the development of a deliberative strategy of institutional advancement," Creighton explained. The president will chair an Educational Priorities Committee "that will coordinate a broad-based and highly consultative institutional planning process." Committee members will "reach out like an octopus to all existing structures to gather and synthesize information."
The first stage of planning will focus on the College's educational mission, goals, and priorities, and is expected to conclude with a draft plan by fall. This process, Creighton said, is "a real community-building opportunity" and a "chance to hear all views and to develop a consensus about a plan of action."
Stage two of the planning process will take a broader look at the institution and "develop a plan of institutional goals and intentions for the next five years designed to implement the mission and priorities," Creighton said later. This stage will be the responsibility of a College Planning Task Force to be composed of the Educational Priorities Committee and the Senior Staff. The goals for this stage are to have a draft plan finished by February 1997, and to have the completed document approved by the trustees by May 1997.
Creighton assured faculty that while planning is underway, other projects will also continue. Among them, she said, are expanding childcare facilities, devising next year's budget, scrutinizing the structure of the external affairs office, and carrying out the administrative reorganization and merger of the library, Computing and Information Systems, the language resource center, and Electronic Services.
That last issue drew lengthy comments from faculty opposed to and in favor of the merger and the process by which the decision to combine departments was made. (A special faculty meeting will be held February 21 to continue the discussion.) In January, the library and computing staff began planning, budgeting, and hiring as a single unit, according to Paul Dobosh, director of Computing and Information Systems. Over the next six months, the staff will meet with faculty and students to discuss their service needs, and propose and begin to implement changes based on the results of those meetings.
More information on the planning process, including the composition of the Educational Priorities Committee, will be published in future issues of the CSJ.