Committee starts work on five-year strategic plan

In October 2006, the Wheaton Board of Trustees formally endorsed ‘Wheaton 2014: Transforming Lives to Change the World’ under former president, Ronald Crutcher. As the timeline for this strategic plan comes to a conclusion, a planning committee has already begun discussions for a new five-year strategic plan. Professor of Mathematics Thomas Ratliff, co-chair of this committee, said that the shorter time frame was due to the fact that conditions in higher education are changing rapidly and it would be difficult to predict areas of focus for the next 10 years.

This committee is also co-chaired by President Dennis Hanno and includes faculty members Lisa Lebduska, professor of English, and Peony Fhagen-Smith, associate professor of Psychology. Staff members in this committee are James Mancall (assistant provost) and Sandy Coleman (senior associate director of communications). Alumni James Eberhart ‘03 and Cheryl Vedoe ’74, along with current student Alex Butcher-Nesbitt ’15, comprise the final members of the committee, with one more student in the process of being named.

Hanno stated that it is important to have a vision to work toward, and after being announced President of Wheaton College in February 2014, he decided to embark upon the mission to help the community shape and visualize his future goals for the college. Hanno also said that this past year at Wheaton provided a great opportunity to get more people involved in the dialogue about where the members of the Wheaton community want to be in the future. Both Hanno and Ratliff emphasized that this task force will not determine the plan, but help facilitate the discussion with the rest of the community.

Ratliff mentioned that the committee was currently in its early stages with kick-off events and brain storming sessions. This information would be used to determine top priorities that the task force would focus on to help draft strategic plans this upcoming summer. These plans would be brought back to the community in September and would be voted on by the board in October of this year. Ratliff said, “We don’t want this document to sit on a shelf and gather dust. Its purpose is to help build agreement on what direction as an institution, we should be working towards and as reference in any new initiatives.”

The kick-off events for faculty and staff occurred on the 23rd and 30th of January respectively, with a follow up staff session scheduled for the 2nd of February. Hanno said, “Between last Friday and this Friday almost 200 people have weighed in on this. People do view this as a point in time when we need to think about what comes next for the college.” He said that students would soon be hearing about different opportunities to contribute to these discussions. Some of these opportunities include: a website, meeting with members of the task force to ask questions, and general listening sessions.

Hanno also stated that opportunities to contribute ideas and feedback would extend to alumni members of the college. He said, “We’ve identified 15 different events that I or one of the task force members will be at over the course of the next six months. With 16,000 alums, that won’t allow us to hit everybody, but this website will email alums and let them know the process that we are in and ask them to contribute.” Hanno also said that his webcast to alumni at the end of February would be about the strategic planning process and that a website would also be made available to them.