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ISSUE 117 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/5/2003

New Strategic Plan proposed

By Stephanie Soucheray
Staff Writer

Friday, December 5, 2003

On Nov. 24, President Christopher Thomforde came to a special Student Senate meeting and revealed St. Olaf’s Strategic Plan. The plan was developed by Thomforde and the College Council, a group composed of faculty, staff and students.

The group met a year and a half ago and began brainstorming ways St. Olaf could become a better place. Originally starting with 113 ideas, the group narrowed down their goal to three focused ideas that have become the new Strategic Plan.

"The Strategic Plan is a set of reference points for St. Olaf to focus their energies on in the upcoming years," said Thomforde to the Student Senate. "I am one of the few lucky people at St. Olaf who gets to experience a wide range of all the good things at St. Olaf: our Strategic Plan recognizes that most things here are good, but we have to explore what we can make better."

Friday, the Board of Regents will meet and vote on the points in the Strategic Plan, and if any of the three points are passed, the future of St. Olaf could look very different.

When forming the Stra-tegic Plan, Thomforde and the College Council kept St. Olaf values and strengths in the foreground of their thoughts. Values like faith, curiosity, expression, and intelligence about global citizenship remain the most fundamental to St. Olaf’s goals for improvements.

The challenges St. Olaf faces in the coming years may influence the current Strategic Plan. Like other colleges, St. Olaf must change and strengthen parts of the school so it can remain a respectable institution of education in the future.

The three main challenges St. Olaf faces are issues of the way education is exposed to students, diversity in the student body and the financial troubles that have been affecting the school in the past year.

"The core business at a college is to teach students," Thomforde said, "Everything we do at the school should support that core business."

To confront the challenges St. Olaf faces, the new Strategic Plan explores three goals of the college. The first is the building of a new science center so that the most up-to-date and appropriate methods of studying the sciences are available to students. The second is the creation of an inclusive community so that St. Olaf is a representation of the global ideals St. Olaf values. The third and final goal of the plan is to engage in smart economic planning so that St. Olaf has the resources needed to support the college.

The President and his cabinet will be in charge of the implementation of the Strategic Plan but, Thomforde said, "The Strategic Plan calls for all of us to act on it." For the first part of the Plan, the building of a new science center, 56 million dollars will be spent in the actual building of the facility, and 22 million dollars will be spent in endowment for the new science center so that it will not become obsolete in a number of years. This goal is the most important and immediate part of the Strategic Plan.

The second aspect of the Plan, making St. Olaf a more inclusive community, is also important for the relevance St. Olaf will have as a college in the future. Thomforde would like to see an increase in the number of international students. "We want to make sure our campus looks like where students come from and where they will eventually be going," said Thomforde. This includes recruiting more diverse faculty.

The final piece of the Strategic Plan is the most complicated. As many schools feel the financial strains of the volatile economy, St. Olaf must find ways to increase its revenue. One way to do this may be to increase the amount of money Partners in Annual Giving give the school annually.

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