October 1, 2007
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:
It is with great pride that I share with you last week's oral report of the NEASC visiting team, which will be followed by a written report in the next several months.
The team was exceedingly impressed with the college and what they described as "a rare unanimity of purpose" among all members of the Smith community. They highlighted Smith's "very strong planning and evaluation" functions as well as "exemplary use of research and data at all levels." They noted a "sea change" in student life from a decade ago, expressing admiration for the ways in which house governance and residence life innovations have been successfully incorporated into the student experience. They singled out the college's commitment to diversity for particular commendation, noting that Smith "walks the walk" more than many of its peers.
Areas they recommended we review included many we ourselves had identified: the advising system, leadership structures at the chair and director level, the link between the curriculum and the co-curriculum, optimizing the open curriculum, and resources for electronic communication. They urged us to approach implementation of our strategic plan with momentum and enthusiasm, convinced that Smith is structurally and financially well-positioned to do so. In the words of one team member, "Smith should move expeditiously and confidently forward."
I join Provost Bourque, chair of the NEASC review process, in thanking all of you for your active participation in both the self-study and strategic planning process. It was thanks to the lively and energetic participation of the Smith community that we developed such strong evaluation documents and received such positive and enthusiastic support from the visiting team.
Carol T. Christ