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2012 Fall Issue 7 (November 2, 2012)

Revised Strategic Plan Will Make Students Think About Their Professional Future

November 4, 2012
By J.M. Hanley

President Steven Poskanzer announced via email on Oct. 24 key revisions to Carleton’s Strategic Plan.

According to Poskanzer’s email, the changes to the plan reflect comments which the Carleton community submitted online, as well as additional input from campus organizations. 

All four of the secondary priorities, as well as two of the major priorities saw no change or were subject to minor rhetorical adjustments.  The remaining four were altered more substantially.
Career preparation, along with curriculum, socioeconomic diversity, and budget trimming, fell into the latter group. 

The original document had dictated that sophomores compose a single written reflection  on the post-graduation usefulness of a liberal arts education before their fall advising meeting.  Such a reflection could then be articulated “to prospective employers and/or fellowship or graduate admissions committees.”

In the revised edition, this proposal has been broadened.  The plan now calls for a number of reflections, both written and non-written, throughout a student’s four years.  In addition, an employer-tailored technique is now described as merely an “intriguing example” rather than the only approach to the exercise.

Existing proposals to improve internship opportunities, on the other hand, were not substantially rewritten, though further details were added. 

The plan now targets “fellowships, externships, [and] shadowing” in addition to “traditional three-month summer experiences.”  It further acknowledges that the school will need to raise funds to make it possible for students to take advantage of any newly created positions.

Added text suggests that the school fashion a “Career network” modeled on the system of solicitation from parents and alumni which it has built for the Annual Fund.

According to the original plan, funding new internships, as well as keeping the school out of debt given spending alone, makes budget trimming another critical priority.  Additions to the document underscore the potential pain of some of these cuts.

“Savings…will surely call for us to work smarter, in some cases to work differently, and to increase productivity,” one paragraph now reads.

The new text also specifies one area in which spending will be limited.  A new footnote refers readers to the school’s “Climate Action Plan” for information on sustainability-related expenditures.  The “funding” section of that document stresses “practical and no or low net cost solutions.” 

Thus, it would appear that spending on environmental sustainability is unlikely to increase over the next ten years.

Curricular improvement and expansion of socioeconomic diversity, two other critical priorities, saw minimal change. 

Further emphasis on the importance of student research has been added to the former, while the latter now calls for the school to “meet students’ needs that go beyond financial assistance” through “academic and personal support systems.”

Similarly, the section of the plan addressing facilities changes remained nearly intact.  However, an added footnote attempts to allay student concerns about changes to off-campus housing. 

While fewer students will be allowed to live in non-Carleton residences, the note explains, the program will not be done away with completely.

“While (consistent with the Housing Plan) over time fewer students will live off-campus because of the addition of beds in Evans, the construction of more townhomes, and the development of a broader variety of on-campus housing and dining options, there are no plans at this time to entirely eliminate the ‘Northfield Option,’” it reads.

The final critical priority, inter-institutional collaboration, along with all four of the secondary priorities, was unaltered.

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