On Friday, Sept. 30, there was a Presidential Forum entitled “Conversation on Strategic Visioning.” Led by Beth Rushing, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, the conversation focused on looking at the mission statement and determining if it fit St. Mary’s College.
President Joseph Urgo introduced Rushing, who proceed to present a brief PowerPoint presentation. Then the group broke up into smaller groups to discuss the mission statement, and then the group reconvened to share what they had discussed.
Rushing commented on the groups saying, “I think it went very well, I’m really happy with the kind of conversations, both with the small groups and with the larger group.” While the discussion focused on the mission statement, the focus was clearly on determining who we are in order to set real goals and then creating, “metrics” or ways of measuring how we achieve our goals.
After the discussion Rushing said, “There is a general feeling that we like our mission statement, we feel like it reflects what we’d like to be, but people seemed to think it was aspirational. I don’t think we’ve fully accomplished it in all the ways we would like to. Maybe we won’t change the mission statement so much as priorities moving on to the future.”
The Strategic Planning Committee, who organized the meeting, already has a draft for the strategic plan. However, the current draft is very long and one of the main goals is to shorten it to five pages. Student Government Association President Mark Snyder was happy with this idea, saying, “It’s good because we need good direction, but we also need open direction.”
Rushing explained that she wanted people to feel included in planning for the future of the college, saying, “When I came in July…I started talking to people about where we are. A number of people I talked to suggested that they felt like they weren’t involved in developing these goals, and they felt like we could do a better job at being more inclusive in developing our strategic goals.”
Rushing said she hoped to have more people, and especially students come to future meetings. She said she knows it’s hard to get students to go to meetings on Friday afternoon, but that, “[Strategic Planning] is a way of setting priorities for the college, where are we going to put our resources and time, energy and effort. Someone used the term student empowerment; this process really is an opportunity for students to help shape the future of the college.”
Snyder also emphasized the importance of different groups getting involved, saying, ““It’s something student’s own, faculty own, and staff own.”