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Strategic Planning Process Call for Proposals

February 5, 2015

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

Beginning this semester we will embark on an ambitious strategic planning process for Smith College. The project will involve all of us — faculty, staff, and students. As we move forward, we will be making choices as a community.

Strategic planning is critical for a college to remain a continuous learning environment. Given the changing landscape in higher education, it is essential that we pause periodically to assess our vision, mission, values and goals, considering what we want to pursue as well as what we no longer want to do. Further, given that we are beginning to prepare for our 2017 reaccreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), our timing could not be better.

The Committee on Mission and Priorities (CMP) will serve as the steering committee for this effort. Their role is in keeping with the Faculty Code, which states that CMP will “advise the President on long-range planning for the financial, human and physical resources of the College.” As president, I chair CMP, and Provost and Dean of the Faculty Katherine Rowe serves as vice chair. The committee includes faculty, staff and student representatives.

In early January, CMP held a retreat to plan its approach to this project. We began by reviewing past planning efforts at Smith, including the Smith 2020 plan, the Smith Design for Learning, and the Futures Initiative. These efforts were successful in guiding new decisions and investments at Smith. For example, Smith 2020 resulted in the Picker Engineering Program and our Praxis internship program; the Smith Design for Learning resulted in four new centers; and the Futures Initiative outlined scenarios to position Smith for strength in coming decades. In addition to those plans, we considered the priorities of the Women for the World Campaign, especially the goal of providing access to a Smith education for all qualified students, regardless of need.

CMP spent a great deal of time discussing process. We are committed to an open, transparent process. Thus, we begin with this call for brief proposals that is open to all faculty, staff, and students. These brief proposals, due March 23, may identify new initiatives; adapt/extend existing programming; or replace/end existing work. The submission form is accessible online at

As CMP reviews submitted proposals, we may request more information to understand better the goals, resource needs, and anticipated benefits of the proposed idea for our community. We may also encourage proposers with related ideas to work together to align their concepts.

At this point, we are in the generative phase of the process. We want everyone’s best creative thinking. Although there are no specific criteria for evaluating proposals, we have identified some guiding principles for our shared planning process:

  • All ideas will be considered.
  • There is equal value in a good idea from one visionary individual and a proposal endorsed by many; we have examples of both models in programs such as the Poetry Center and the Picker Engineering Program.
  • Piloting is a useful way to test ideas.
  • Resources matter, but constraints can actually enable creative work.

I look forward to everyone’s best ideas. I am confident that this process will result in an even stronger Smith College.


Kathleen McCartney