Steering Committee enters final brainstorm stages for five-year plan

By Heather Fabritze

Student Life Editor

Last semester, President of Washington College Dr. Michael Sosulski introduced a strategic planning process that would result in a structured outlook for WC in 2023-27.

According to the WC website, the process aimed to create two short-term plans that would “carry” the College to its 250th anniversary in 2032. The first of these will lay out ideas of implementation until 2027.

To include diverse input from the community affected by this plan, members of the Board of Visitors and Governors, Student Government Association, and Chestertown town council were added to the group.

Their current goal is to steer the overall planning process, collecting community feedback through discussion and brainstorming. 

The Strategic Plan also involves collaboration with the Clarion Group, an external consulting firm which implements impactful change at academic institutions. To pursue the multiple steps pitched by Clarion to develop the overall plan, the Steering Committee has a different primary agenda for every meeting in which they convene.  

The Strategic Visioning Process that Clarion proposed involved five major parts – preparing for the process by reviewing WC’s background information; securing stakeholder input through an executive summary; facilitating visioning sessions of how WC will ideally appear ten years from now; facilitating the main strategic planning session; and hosting an implementation planning workshop.

The results of the executive summary were the first look into this process that the campus received. Released in December 2022, it secured opinions from focus groups and interviews with College stakeholders to inform the development of the first five-year plan.

The next part of the process included two sessions from Nov. 3 and 4 to discuss the pillars they wanted WC to have ten years from 2022.

According to Vice President for Planning and Policy and Chief of Staff Victor Sensenig, the main pillars that arose from feedback were a focus on a transformative student experience through experiential learning and opportunities for leadership, curricular innovation, and improving WC’s name recognition. 

These pillars are the motivators that will provide the foundation for the entire plan as a whole.

“We have to make decisions about what the college aspires to and this is a way of manifesting that,” Sensenig said. “It’s not just something that we wish would happen or hope will happen. This is how we’re going to get to where we want the college to be.”

Steering Committee member senior Julianna Sterling said that the results of this particular session were “substantial” and a “massive milestone” for the process.

The most recent session held was a two-day strategic planning day in December. It considered previous sessions and developed a firm, five-year strategy map for the College.

Steering Committee member and SGA President senior Alex May said that this position of the process opened her eyes to the shared motivations between the committee members.

“During the two-day period, I personally learned that students, faculty, and administrators have very similar broad goals for WC,” May said. “We all want to be an enriching and inclusive environment where students feel safe and learn the academic skills to contribute to society.”

The Board of Visitors and Governors must endorse their proposal map by late February. Once it is formally approved, the plan will be distributed to the WC student body. A workshop to implement the plan will follow in March.

Sensenig said that he hopes that students will understand the importance of this plan to the community and all those involved in it, including those who will have graduated by the time that it is implemented.

“People retain a pride and an affiliation with their college in a way that they don’t with many other institutions, just because of the kind of experience that people have – the doors that are opened, the friendships that are made,” Sensenig said. “Do you want to talk with pride about a place that has a bright future?”

Sterling and May said, as well, that the emphasis given to student opinions in the planning sessions was important. The other members looked to them as equals for opinions and contributions to the College’s future.

“It feels really powerful to be in a room full of people so invested in the College’s wellbeing,” Sterling said. “I think that gathering such a dedicated group to take on this task is, in itself, a substantial result as well.”

Elm Archive photo

Photo Caption: The committee’s next plan will carry the College’s goals from 2028 through 2032.

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