Task Force on Planning Communications

Chair, Members, Advisory, Liaison

Michael Schoenfeld, Co-chair and liaison
Maggie Paine, Co-chair
Ann Crumb
Ron Dragon
Tim Etchells
Mary Hurlie
Beth Karnes Keefe
Becky Brodigan, advisory from Institutional Research
Carrie Rampp, advisory from LIS
Alex Stanton '07, advisory from SGA
John Denny '85, advisory from MCAA
Jed Smith '88, advisory from Board

Charge to Task Force

1. Ensure that all members of the Middlebury community, including our parents, alumni, and trustees:

  • are informed about the assumptions and goals of the planning process;
  • know how they can share their ideas with the Planning Committee;
  • are apprised of the progress and developments as the process evolves;
  • understand the resulting planning report and its rationale;
  • and are invited to help support the implementation of the plan.

2. Communicate through President Liebowitz and Vice President Huth with officials from the Town of Middlebury about College planning issues that may be of mutual College-Town interest

    Executive Summary
    May 2005

    Note: Each Task Force Report is a collection of background information, analyses, and recommendations that are submitted to the Planning Steering Committee and the President. Over the summer, the Steering Committee and the President will review and discuss all 15 sets of recommendations together in the context of the College's available resources.

    The Task Force on Planning Communications is charged with ensuring that all members of the Middlebury College community are kept informed about the planning process and given opportunities to participate in it. We are also working with Bob Huth to keep the local off-campus community informed about planning and its outcomes.

    November and December 2004

    President Liebowitz met with faculty and staff groups to discuss the planning process, its goals, and assumptions. The president also sent an e-mail message and a letter outlining the planning process to all on-campus constituents, including students.

    Also in December, the communications task force launched the planning Web site to provide a place where people can find complete, accurate, and up-to-date information. The process is clearly explained, task forces and goals identified, and updates are posted here on a regular basis. This will continue to be the place to find the most current information. At the same time, we set up an e-mail box for the dean of planning, so that suggestions could be sent directly to John Emerson, and included a link on the Web site.

    January 2005

    In January, the president met with students in an open meeting, and our committee worked with our student representative to publicize the process through The Campus and SGA representatives in the Commons.

    The committee also turned its attention to its key off-campus audiences: alumni and parents. A letter and e-mail message from the president explained the strategic-planning process and invited comments and suggestions. So far we have received numerous e-mail messages and letters from alumni and parents about the process.

    In addition, Rick Fritz, chair of the board of trustees, and Mike Schoenfeld, vice president for College Advancement, began meeting with small groups of alumni and parents who are leaders in the financial industry. Their presentation explained Middlebury's financial and competitive market position and began to lay out the issues being addressed in the planning process. Fritz and Schoenfeld held nine of these meetings around the country over a three-week period.
    Also in January, the president met with the executive committee of the Middlebury College Alumni Association Board and brought its members up to date on the planning process and invited their participation.

    The winter issue of Middlebury Magazine, which came out in late January, included a feature article on the president's vision and the strategic planning process. The magazine goes to all parents and alumni, faculty and staff. In order to help leaders in the Middlebury community understand the new president and to inform them about the planning process, we sent copies to town and county officials with a cover letter and added these key leaders to the mailing list.


    A goal shared by all committee members was to create ways for faculty and staff members to provide input anonymously. Staff and faculty who have access to the Internet are able to comment anonymously through the Web site. We had suggestion boxes made for two sites in facilities and three in dining. We also provided bulletin boards for planning updates. Going forward, we hope that these will continue to be used to improve communication generally.

    MiddNews featured the planning process with a link to the Web site in February. And Annual Fund letters mailed at that time to parents and non-reunion classes reflected excitement about president's vision and mentioned some planning priorities.

    March and April

    In March and April, the president visited alumni chapters around the country and did a presentation on the strategic planning process and the state of the College. He visited eight alumni chapters and met with more than 1,000 alumni and parents over a six-week period. The events served to introduce alumni to the new president, engage alumni and parents in the planning process, and begin to build excitement and momentum around the president and his vision for Middlebury. The president also met with members of the Annual Fund Executive Council to discuss the process in March.

    Also during March and April, we developed alumni and staff surveys, which were mailed to all alumni and staff members without e-mail access and e-mailed to all other staff members and then posted on the planning Web site. Middlebury Magazine publicized the survey in its spring issue. We assisted in developing surveys for parents, faculty, and students, which were also mailed or e-mailed and posted on the Web site. As of May 11, we had received:
    ▪ 2,800 completed surveys from alumni,
    ▪ 125 short answer and 22 narrative surveys from faculty,
    ▪ 191 short answer and 42 narrative surveys from staff,
    ▪ 394 short answer and 40 narrative surveys from students.

    Looking Ahead

    Going forward, we'll continue to provide updates on the planning process.
    ▪ Once the task force reports are completed, we'll post the two-page summaries on the planning Web site.
    ▪ In September, when the steering committee completes its draft report, that will be posted as well.
    ▪ We'll use events like Alumni Leadership Conference, Family Weekend, open meetings, and dinners with alumni and parent leaders and potential donors to discuss planning priorities.
    ▪ We'll also use our regular communications vehicles (Middlebury Magazine, MiddPoints, MiddNews, etc.) to keep all of our audiences informed.
    ▪ Our efforts will culminate in a president's report in late winter, explaining the vision and strategy that will guide the College through 2012.