Progress Report: February 2008

In May 2006, the Middlebury Board of Trustees voted unanimously to endorse a strategic plan, Knowledge Without Boundaries. The plan is available on the Middlebury College Web site. The strategic plan serves as the foundation for The Middlebury Initiative, launched in October 2007.

 

The present report outlines progress made with the strategic planning agenda in the period, September 2007 through January 2008. For convenience in reviewing the planning recommendations in their own context, this report identifies items by referring to numbered recommendations in the strategic plan.

 


#7: Increase the socio-economic diversity of the student body.

The strategic plan assumed gradual growth in the percentage of Middlebury students qualifying for need-based aid to 43% of the student body. The fall 2007 percent of undergraduate students receiving College financial aid is 41% (40% when study-abroad students are included). Projections indicate that the 43% target will likely be attained within the next two years, and possibly even by Fall 2008. Some colleges in Middlebury’s overlapping admissions group have announced financial aid packages that eliminate loans in the aid package and provide corresponding increases in grant aid. Middlebury’s average grant has seen healthy increases to $29,500 in 2007-08, and many of the recent gains at Middlebury have especially benefited students from upper middle-class families. The President and senior administration are undertaking an extensive review of this area and of the College’s financial aid programs.


#8: Enhance recruitment and retention of students of color.

The dean for institutional diversity and the dean of admissions are developing a strategic plan for further increasing diversity in our admissions process. Significant attention is also being given to successfully retaining students of color once they are enrolled. The dean of the college, dean for institutional diversity, center for teaching, learning and research, and other departments are working together to develop strategies to further reduce attrition of students of color. We have added diversity training in residential life staff orientation (August 2007) and in first-year student orientation (for Fall 2008).


#11: Create a financial aid advisory committee.

This new committee began to meet in fall 2007. It is working with the senior administration to review financial aid policies and identify initiatives that will support the goal of increasing student socio-economic diversity.


#12: Continue to offer leadership in addressing the relationship between intercollegiate athletics and academic mission.

Dean of planning John Emerson is the principal investigator for the national College Sports Project data collection and analysis project. The presidents of 71 participating NCAA Division-III colleges, including all 11 NESCAC colleges, received their first reports from the CSP in November. The second round of data collection is now underway, and includes second-year data for the original cohort as well as data on entering students in a new student cohort.


#13: Establish a systematic procedure for consultation between coaches and other faculty members about the balance between athletics and educational mission.

The Athletic Policy Committee, with representatives from the academic faculty and from the athletics faculty met with President Liebowitz to consider and discuss Middlebury’s data from the College Sports Project. This committee will consider additional related information and data, and it will share its findings with the Faculty Council in the spring.


#15: Clarify the status of Commons Heads.

The authority of the heads has been reinforced in the performance evaluation process. It is now made clear that the deans report to the heads on matters related to the Commons as a whole. Associate Dean Katy Abbott is working with the heads as a team; she is supporting their effort to rethink the affiliates program and to create a sophomore-year experience.


#16: Integrate Commons and curriculum.

The commons heads and dean of the college staff members are exploring options for linking the Commons more closely with the curriculum.


#18: Initiate College-wide convocations.

Following the successful convocation in spring 2007, the dean of the college staff and Commons heads are now exploring possibilities for a Commons-based convocation program, led by sophomores.


#19: Enhance educational opportunities for staff.

A staff group chaired by Mary Hurlie, senior director of organizational and employee development, recently presented detailed recommendations to the president. The recommendations include increasing flexibility and expanding financial support for staff members who apply to enroll in courses. Increased budget support would make these educational benefits available to more staff members. These recommendations are now undergoing review, and changes that strengthen staff educational opportunities are likely to take effect by summer 2008.


#20: Support staff matriculation at Middlebury College.

A small committee from the administration has developed an initial proposal which is being reviewed by other members of the President’s Staff. The proposed new program will go first to the Educational Affairs Committee, and then some aspects of the program are likely to need a faculty vote.


#21: Increase professional development opportunities for staff.

Three Open Calendar sessions were offered in the fall, with approximately 25 participants in each. Staff training and development has moved to human resources and Sheila Andrus has joined HR as the training manager. During the spring, the Staff Development Program will be reviewed to ensure the most effective and broad-based availability. Since the start of this fiscal year, 11 requests for staff development funds for outside training or conferences have been supported. The office of organization and employee development is now offering two parallel programs, LeaderSkills for Supervisors and LeaderSkills for Managers, to groups of around 15 staff members.


#23: Encourage staff participation in intellectual community.

President Liebowitz appointed Lynn Dunton, senior special gifts officer in college advancement, to chair a staff committee to review this area and make recommendations. Among its key recommendations is one for a formal program that makes “staff enrichment time” available regularly to staff members. The final report has now been reviewed by President Liebowitz and his staff, and details of the implementation are being worked out.


#24: Strengthen supervisory training.

The two leadership development programs, LeaderSkills for Supervisors and LeaderSkills for Managers, continue to be offered twice each year. In fall 2007, 11 supervisors and 10 managers participated. So far, 12 supervisors and 9 managers have enrolled in the spring sessions. In addition, to support the Performance Feedback and Development Process (PFDP), a two-part training program is scheduled. The “Fundamentals” session is for new supervisors/managers and a refresher for those who attended last year. A second, hands-on skills-based session focuses on techniques for writing and delivering the review. Beginning in late February, 17 Team Leaders in custodial and general services will participate in a Team Leader Skills Workshop for 12 hours total over a four week period. The dean for institutional diversity has collaborated with human resources to develop a regular training module on “diversity and community” for all participating supervisors and managers.

 


#28: Increase recognition of employees’ accomplishments.

The biweekly Middlebury publication for employees, MiddPoints, has been revamped with support from the Communication Office to give more attention to staff members and their accomplishments. Two monthly columns, "This Month in Middlebury History" and "Milestones," celebrate past efforts and achievements by staff. Front-page articles focus on interesting things that staff members are doing now, for example, feature stories on Susan Davis (Snow Bowl) and the ski school, and on Pam Fogg (communications office) and sustainability. New employees are introduced to the community using their photos and more detailed biographies. This also marks the second year of downhill ski races for interested staff members. Beginning in January, employee service milestones are reported each month and we are looking at the feasibility of an annual recognition event.


#29: Engage alumni in the life of College.

The Alumni Office has developed more content-rich programming for on-campus and off-campus events, and an additional staff member was hired with the specific responsibility to work with alumni chapters.

The Communications Office and College Advancement have reviewed the College’s Web pages and worked with a consulting firm to develop recommendations for revamping and expanding the College’s use of the Web for communicating with the external world, particularly including Middlebury alumni. One component of this effort is a new "Middlebury Online" Web site that supplements the PantherNet alumni directory and offers a "digital gateway" to all things Middlebury on the Internet: news feeds, blogs, discussions, videos, faculty lectures, and more. Consideration is also being given to redesigning and reorganizing the College's main Web site in a way that would better serve and seamlessly connect on-campus and off-campus audiences.


#30: Strengthen our communications.

The Web project outlined in #29 is an important element of the College’s communications strategies. The recently announced Middlebury Initiative is being taken on the road to Middlebury alumni in large cities; for example, a major gathering of alumni in the San Francisco area is planned for mid-February.

Internal campus communications are also being strengthened, particularly for staff members. President Liebowitz is hosting a total of five open meetings for large staff groups over the course of the year. Much of the meeting time is reserved for questions and comments from staff members. Thus far the attendance and participation levels have exceeded expectations.

 


#31: Expand and support diversity in the staff and faculty.

Dean of Institutional Diversity Shirley Ramirez continues to lead a faculty working group on diversity initiatives. This group is focusing on faculty diversity, curriculum assessment, and the development of a new academic center at Carr Hall focusing on cultural pluralism and other issues related to diversity. A national search is now underway to identify a faculty member in American Studies who will continue the development of the new center. The dean for institutional diversity is working with human resources and academic departments to improve job descriptions and advertising in order to yield more diverse candidate pools. Dean Ramirez has also developed a session on “diversity in the classroom” for the Winter Term new faculty orientation program.


#42: Explore Commons-based courses.

Conversations are continuing among the Commons heads, with Associate Dean Katy Abbott coordinating these explorations.

 


#43: Require senior work in all majors

Pat Manley, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research, has held conversations with science faculty to determine what kind of funding would be required to implement this requirement, and how these funds should be administered. She has also worked with colleagues to determine the best presentation for senior work: symposia and/or departmental events and to incorporate senior research into the April Student Research Symposium


#45: Increase funding for student internships.

The Career Services Office continues to work on this and has made some progress. This recommendation is also getting attention in the context of the ongoing financial aid review.

 


#61: Explore opportunities for future collaboration with the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Middlebury College and the Monterey Institute (MIIS) hosted a major conference on Global Education on January 22-24, 2008. At least 407 scholars were registered, with more than 20 different sessions offered. The conference was called ConnectEd; see: http://www.connectedconference.org/ .

Three January 2008 winter term courses (two at Middlebury, one at MIIS) are being taught by faculty from the other institution. Two MIIS short courses and field study opportunities were offered to Middlebury students as winter term 2008 internships (integrated, interdisciplinary development projects in El Salvador and New Orleans; short courses in development project management and conservation leadership.)

The Middlebury Dance Company is performing on the west coast, including at Monterey, in February. Middlebury and Monterey are collaborating on a spring 2008 online course on “Russian Society.”

Extensive collaboration of staff and movement toward integration is taking place at Middlebury and the Monterey Institute, for example, in finance with the Banner database, information technology, library and information resources, human resources, staff training, and institutional research. One specific outcome of the collaboration is an online directory for MIIS faculty and staff. As another example, the campus sustainability coordinator is working with the MIIS Sustainability Council to conduct a greenhouse gas inventory to determine MIIS carbon footprint and sources as a basis for future carbon reduction efforts.


#62: Establish a liaison group to explore programmatic connections between the Monterey Institute of International Studies and Middlebury programs.

An Academic Transformation Task Force at Monterey issued a report and set of recommendations in December 2007 that proposes a more integrated and interdisciplinary curriculum at the Monterey Institute. In particular, the proposals will lead to a set of new curricular offerings, transitioning from the current School-specific curriculum to multi-layered, interdisciplinary, sometimes modular, offerings, through collaboration of faculty members of all schools. The fall 2008 curriculum will begin to reflect the impact of these changes. As the Monterey curriculum evolves, increased opportunities for collaboration and for joint programs will result for Middlebury students and faculty members, both at the undergraduate college and for Middlebury’s graduate programs.


#63: Revise and expand the campus master plan to reflect the strategic plan.

Associate Vice President for Facilities Susan Personette continued to lead this work with Michael Dennis Associates throughout the fall and winter. A near-final draft of the new Master Plan is now being reviewed by the President’s Staff and has been distributed to the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board. It will then be considered by the full Board.


#65: Equalize housing opportunities for seniors.

The spring 2008 room draw is being revised to give seniors more nearly equal access to the housing that seniors find most attractive.


#68: Strengthen our environmental leadership and reputation.

Middlebury was ranked by the Sustainable Endowments Institute as one of the best six sustainability leaders among the top 250 endowment colleges and universities.


#69: Pursue alternative environmentally-friendly energy sources.

The MiddShift Implementation Working Group began meeting in December to develop a roadmap for the College to achieve carbon neutrality by 2016, as endorsed by the trustees in May 2007. The broad categories of solutions being explored include renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, conservation, and financial offsets.

A willow shrub test plot was planted in spring 2007 to explore the potential for growing a carbon neutral fuel. A seven-kW solar panel array will be installed on Hillcrest Center in Spring 2008. An innovative groundwater cooling system for the Hillcrest colloquium space began operation in summer 2007.

 


#70: Energy efficient buildings and operations.

A building energy performance monitoring and display system is being installed in the Hillcrest Center in Spring 2008 to study and improve use of electricity, solar power, water, and steam.

 


#73: Manage college lands responsibly.

The Lands Subcommittee of the Environmental Council has worked with Bob Huth, Executive Vice President and Treasurer, to develop guidelines for responsible stewardship of College lands. They have drafted a set of guidelines, and a final document describing those guidelines is now being developed in consultation with the College’s attorneys. The Lands Subcommittee is finalizing an implementation proposal that describes the formation of a Lands Advisory Group, whose purpose is to provide input and advice to the executive vice president on land management issues.


#74: Work toward universal access on campus.

An ADA access study is underway at Bread Loaf. It will be included in the recommendations for overall facility rehabilitation there. The important needs relating to ADA are addressed in the Master Plan.

 


#75: Better utilize existing facilities.

A McCullough Social Space study is underway; that project may include removing the mezzanine, adding telescoping raised seating, and improving lighting, acoustics, and sound system, and ADA access. A Dana Auditorium renovation study is complete. A Mead Chapel feasibility study is nearing completion; it looks at how to fully utilize Mead more flexibly to accommodate multiple uses.

 


#76: Increase availability of alternate transportation.

The Student Government Association (SGA) charter buses for holiday break travel filled, and there was even a wait list. Demand for seats on ACTR shuttles to the Snow Bowl exceeding capacity in Winter Term 2008.


#77: Search for creative ways to reduce reliance on private vehicles.

Two Zipcars (hourly and daily rental hybrid vehicles) became available in Fall 2007 to students, staff, and faculty.

 


#78: Old Chapel Road to become a pedestrian-friendly campus artery.

This is a recommendation in the new Master Plan that will be considered in the implementation phase.


#80: Cultivate open dialogue with the Town.

President Liebowitz announced in November 2007 that the College will share in the cost to the Town of building a second in-town bridge over Otter Creek. The College has committed to providing $600,000 annually for 30 years to support borrowing for the project by the Town. This plan was developed through extensive collaboration between the College and the Middlebury Board of Selectmen and its Chair, John Tenny.

Several town officials have been active and regular participants in the Master Planning committee throughout the past two years.

 

Resources Supporting the Strategic Plan: The College launched a $500 million Initiative on October 6, 2007. More than half of the Initiative goal—$271 million as of January 15—has already been reached. The Middlebury Initiative is critically important to Middlebury’s ability to continue implementing the major strategic initiatives in the Strategic Plan.

 

 

The examples outlined in this report illustrate the many efforts underway in the community to act upon the recommendations in the strategic plan. The College community is indebted to these individuals for their good work and leadership in advancing the College’s ambitious agendas.

John Emerson
Dean of Planning
February 13, 2008