Strategic Plan approved by board of trustees

By Managing Editor

Despite recent efforts from a coalition of students, staff and adjunct faculty to halt the implementation of the Strategic Plan, the board of trustees’ unanimously approved the college’s five-year improvement plan at its May 12 meeting, according to a collegewide email from Dick Kiphart, chair of the board of trustees.

“[The Strategic Plan] is a move that will enhance students’ education experience,” Kiphart said. “It will bring better staff at the top in place, and [while] we already have very great professors, [it] will help to figure out if we’ve got everybody in the right position doing the right things. [The Strategic Plan] will provide an education for the future.”

Following months of collegewide forums and online discussions throughout the Fall 2014 Semester in which members of the college community had the opportunity to share their vision for Columbia’s future in relation to the plan, a team of writers began composing a draft of the Strategic Plan in January 2015, which was presented to the college on March 23 for a second two-week-long feedback phase.

As reported by The Chronicle, several [unilateral] actions by the administration to reduce budgets, eliminate programs and cut staff led various students, faculty and staff to question the value of their input in the Strategic Plan and form the #SaveColumbia coalition, which undertook several actions to protest the plan’s implementation. 

“I don’t see changes that come in [the plan] that are [bad],” Kiphart said. “I don’t know why people should worry about [the Strategic Plan]. I think they need to check the facts. In the Strategic Plan we asked everybody on campus, parents and others to give us their suggestions, and I assure you they were all taken under consideration.”

Stan Wearden, senior vice president and provost, told The Chronicle he is proud of the college for drafting the plan. He added that there is much work ahead to ensure Columbia implements it smoothly.

Wearden said that although some in the Columbia community have expressed concerns regarding the plan, he is confident it will strengthen the college.

“I understand that change is always a little scary and the prospect of change always produces some anxiety, but this is really an opportunity for everybody to play a role,” Wearden said. “As people participate in the plan, I think they’ll recognize their own place in the college much more as well. I think that will cause a lot of the anxiety to dissipate.”

Kiphart said it is important for members of the college to remember that the Strategic Plan is a “living document” that will be reviewed continuously and be modified to include improvements.

In an emailed statement, President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim said he is pleased with the board of trustees’ approval of the Strategic Plan.

“I am highly gratified by the unanimous support of the board of trustees for the Strategic Plan and for their confidence in our college’s future,” Kim said.