In the fall of 2016, Chatham University embarked upon a planning process which will lead to a new strategic plan in fall of 2017. The new strategic plan will identify Chatham's key institutional priorities, opportunities and challenges going forward, help set Chatham's course for the next five years and beyond, and set measurable goals and metrics to assess our progress toward meeting our most critical objectives.
While the timing of strategic planning processes and the format of strategic plans vary greatly by institution, there are certain characteristics which most of the better strategic plans share. One is that a strategic plan should be informed by and advance an institution's mission, which in Chatham's case provides:
Chatham University prepares women and men to be world ready: to build lives of purpose and value and fulfilling work.
In addition to appropriate professional skills and liberal learning, Chatham believes that world readiness means being an informed and engaged citizen in one's communities; recognizing and respecting diversity of culture, identity and opinion; and living sustainably on the planet.
Chatham's Board of Trustees adopted this mission in 2014, at roughly the same time as it approved a number of other momentous changes at the University (undergraduate coeducation, the reorganization of the University into Schools of similar disciplines, the establishment of the Women's Institute, implementation of the Chatham Plan), and it is this mission that will be our starting point for the strategic planning process.
Another characteristic of good strategic plans is that the process leading to their creation is inclusive – reflecting both the diversity, strengths and resources of the campus community – and transparent, so that any member of the Chatham community who so desires can engage with and become knowledgeable about the strategic planning process and the resulting strategic plan.
To help ensure inclusiveness, our planning process will be led by a Steering Committee which includes representatives from Chatham's internal and external stakeholders – the faculty, students, staff, alumnae/i, Board of Trustees and external partners who know Chatham best and care most deeply about its future. To ensure transparency, the Steering Committee will seek out and engage the campus community's views, and share its work and progress with the campus community. This Strategic Planning site will be one of the ways that the Steering Committee shares its work and progress with the Chatham community, and will be a way for members of the Chatham community to share their thoughts with the Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee will lead the strategic planning process, working in close collaboration with five Board Task Forces (Affordability & Access, Eden Hall/Falk School, Growth & Capacity, International Education, Online Education/Continuing Education) that the Board of Trustees established last fall. The Task Forces will present their preliminary findings at the Board of Trustees meeting in February, and will present final reports to the Board and the Steering Committee this coming spring.
The process we have embarked upon will require a lot of effort by a lot of people, but it is critically important to ensure the continued success of Chatham, especially in the context of the uncertain and challenging times in which higher education institutions across the country find themselves. Nonetheless, both the Board and I are confident that with the contributions of the Chatham community we will emerge later this year with a new strategic plan that builds upon Chatham's remarkable successes of recent decades and positions us for even greater successes in the future.
Thank you in advance to each and every member of the Chatham community for your support of this important process.
David Finegold, DPhil