This issue of The Scene is dedicated, in part, to acquainting Willamette alumni and friends with the university’s new strategic plan, adopted by the board of trustees in February. The plan advances a single overarching goal:
“Willamette aspires to become the Northwest’s leading institution for rigorous, personalized liberal arts and graduate professional education, attractive to students and faculty from across the country and around the world.”
We who are charged with the care and advancement of Willamette face some challenges, certainly. But we also have the strongest faculty we have ever had. We enjoy a campus of great beauty and utility. We have relatively high visibility both in and out of our region — attracting larger fractions of out-of-state undergraduates and international graduate students than ever before — as well as a stronger academic profile and a more diverse student body.
This is the context in which the strategic plan was developed. Remaining cognizant of our need to constrain costs and maintain accessibility for the talented students who will both contribute to and benefit from a Willamette education, this strategic plan provides us with the opportunity to look beyond the short-term economic pressures to focus on the university we want to build. It allows us to consider how we choose to continue and extend the success of recent years, and how we will make Willamette a better, truer version of itself — a human-scaled educational community where students are prepared for lives of achievement, contribution and meaning.
The plan also provides a basis for more coordinated, authentic communication about the university to our external friends and prospective students, revisions to our campus master plan that will shape our physical development, and the case statement that will identify the specific financial goals of our next comprehensive fundraising campaign.
Ideally, a strategic plan for an organization characterized by shared governance — with widely distributed authority and expertise, and a complex mission — must be owned and supported in a real sense by the entire organization. I am excited by the way the campus community, our alumni, parents, other external stakeholders and the board have embraced both the planning process and this plan that was ultimately approved.
I hope the plan inspires in you, too, confidence and renewed energy about the future of this beloved university. Enjoy.
Stephen E. Thorsett
“I hope the plan inspires in you, too, confidence and renewed energy about the future of this beloved university”