Strategic Planning Phase I:

Understanding our Environmental Context Compass Conversations Series

October 2021

Willamette University launched its year of Strategic Planning with three conversations about the nature, challenges, and opportunities facing higher education in the 21st Century. These panel discussions helped to create a shared context for the second phase of campus-wide collaborative conversations, during which we will work together to articulate and implement a compelling vision for the future.

These three sessions were live-streamed and recorded, and are now available online.

You can read a summary of all three sessions by clicking here.

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 Session I: Our changing student body

Tuesday, October 5, 12–1 p.m. 
Bringing together campus experts around enrollment, student affairs, and institutional data, this session explored how social and cultural trends are shaping higher education. Panelists responded to questions such as: How are changing demographics and growing income inequality changing the students who seek a college or graduate education? How are students’ educational objectives changing? How is the relation between higher education and the world of work evolving? In light of these changes, how does higher education need to change to serve the students of tomorrow?


  • Abbas Hill, Dean of Students for Community Care and Inclusion
  • William Mullen, VP for Enrollment Management
  • Kelley Strawn, Assistant Provost for Institutional Research
  • Shelby Radcliffe, VP for Advancement (Moderator)

Session II: How can Willamette meet the needs of our region and the world?

Thursday, October 7, 9–10 a.m.
This second session gathered the academic leadership from each of Willamette’s four colleges to explore how our University can rise to meet the challenges of our time. The discussion covered topics such as: What are some of the most urgent issues faced by the Northwest region, our nation, and the world? How should the University prepare students to solve "wicked problems" such as climate change and systemic inequities that require holistic and collaborative responses? How might we work across our colleges and academic programs to prepare students who can effectively address these concerns?


Session III: What makes a great university?

Monday, October 11, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
The Phase I series concluded by bringing together a group of panelists who started to imagine how Willamette might best position itself as the region’s leading liberal arts university. The conversation explored questions such as: What are the core qualities of a 21st Century University? What are the most important capacities to develop in learners who are called to lives of achievement, contribution, and meaning? What organizational principles are most important to universities responding to a complex and digitally enhanced world?


  • Sean O'Hollaren, Former SVP of Government and Public Affairs at NIKE, Inc. (retired) and Secretary of Willamette’s Board of Trustees
  • Skye Morét, Chair of MFA in Collaborative Design and MA in Design Systems
  • Mac Powell, Senior VP of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and University
  • Danny Santos, Former Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Administration at Willamette University College of Law (retired), Moderator


Willamette University

Strategic Plan

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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