Dear Faculty and Staff Members,
As the semester comes to a close, I’d like to thank you all for the good progress that is being made on realizing the objectives of the Leadership for a Changing World strategic plan. I hope you enjoy this periodic update to keep you informed about our progress and engaged in our work to be bold and forward-looking in meeting the needs of our students, our campus community, and the broader world. This update focuses solely on Goal 1 of the plan, and will be followed by a more in-depth review of progress on our other key goals next semester.
Our faculty and staff members are working thoughtfully and expeditiously to bring forward a proposal for curricular renewal at the undergraduate level, as well as a proposal to offer a Master of Public Health program at Puget Sound. Curricular renewal is central to achieving the goals set forth in Leadership for a Changing World—chief among these is to ensure student success as we deliver a rigorous, transformative educational experience.
With these two critical endeavors underway, I have been in conversation with Provost Laura Behling about moving forward with the development of the “centers of distinction” initiative, another key initiative of the strategic plan.
A number of proposals for centers came forward as part of the strategic planning process. Our plan is to move forward with implementing a small number of these over a 10-year period to further advance the academic and scholarly work of the university, in addition to elevating Puget Sound’s profile, visibility, and distinctiveness. It is time to claim and further develop our strengths and distinctiveness in a more highly visible way, building on existing areas of strength and complementing our current signature initiatives—including the Race and Pedagogy Institute, Sound Policy Institute, and Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, to which we remain fully committed.
Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
As I have shared many times over the past several years, I continue to be impressed by the entrepreneurial activity of our community and the enormous potential to bring forward more entrepreneurship and innovation in Tacoma and the South Sound region. During my tour of alumni chapters last year, I received strong feedback from alumni across all 12 chapters about the long history of entrepreneurship that characterizes Puget Sound. Local officials, members of the business community, and potential donors have responded very positively to the idea of a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, and indicate that we could play an instrumental role in advancing, if not centering, that work at Puget Sound.
In talking with faculty members involved in this work and reviewing ideas proposed to date, I believe that we have the opportunity to build on the success of our current academic programs, which support the study of entrepreneurship, and on our strong integration within the local community.
I have asked Professor Lynnette Claire to work with others to develop a proposal and business plan for a center for entrepreneurship and innovation, building on the initial proposal created by the strategic planning work group that she co-chaired with Associate Provost Ellen Peters.
Professor Claire brings to this work her expertise as a founder of the Tacoma Entrepreneurship Network and Puget Sound’s Entrepreneurship Club, and as a founding member of Pacific Northwest Educators of Entrepreneurial Leaders. She will work with colleagues on and off campus to create a proposal and business plan, which we hope to take to the board of trustees for consideration in the spring.
As we consider the formalization of other centers of excellence in the years to come, I hope that we will build on our long history of engagement with the Pacific Rim. Puget Sound is well-positioned to be at the center of study, research, global exchanges, and other activities that pertain to these regions, which are emerging as the cultural, economic, and political engines of the future. Given the large number of related programs and amount of faculty expertise, I expect that creation of a center in this area will require broad collaboration and significant time to fully develop.
But we can’t do everything at once, and I am cognizant of how full our plates already are. Sequencing our efforts to advance and financially support the ambitious initiatives associated with the strategic plan is essential to the success of our endeavors and the well-being of our community.
As we look to balance our FY20 budget and refine our long-term financial plan, we are working toward development of a strategic enrollment plan to inform decision-making around our recruitment efforts.
This continues to be a challenging time for college enrollment, further complicated by a recent decision of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Following two years of investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ), NACAC has removed provisions from its Code of Ethics and Professional Practice that the DOJ believes may inhibit competition among colleges for students. The deleted provisions prohibited 1) the offering of exclusive incentives for Early Decision, 2) recruitment of first-year undergraduates who have committed elsewhere, and 3) recruitment of transfer students after May 1, the National Candidates’ Reply Date.
While the provisions were removed to avoid further investigation by the DOJ, NACAC members believe these provisions protected the best interests of students by allowing them adequate time to enroll for classes, obtain housing, and prepare for the college experience. Although May 1 remains the National Candidates’ Reply Date, potential outcomes of the removal of these provisions may include a more competitive, expensive, and lengthy recruitment and yield process for students and colleges through the first day of classes and beyond.
We are monitoring the aftermath of the vote and will make changes as needed to best serve students, maintain integrity, strengthen affinity, and yield first-year students prepared for success.
Meanwhile we are seeing some positive early signs in our pool of prospective students. Our campus visit day for prospective students and their families last month was well attended. The Nov. 15 deadline for Early Action and Early Decision applications has passed, and completed applications are up over last year. These are good early indicators, and I have confidence that our enrollment team is doing everything it can, with the assistance and full support of the campus community, to attract a strong and talented first-year class for next fall.
Please mark your calendars for the morning of Monday, Jan. 13, when all faculty and staff members are invited to attend a special workshop on student success. More information will follow shortly.
I hope to see you at the annual Holiday Brunch in Wheelock Student Center’s Rasmussen Rotunda on Friday, Dec. 13, between 9 and 10:30 a.m. It will be good to spend some time together celebrating the many achievements of the fall semester and preparing for a well-deserved winter break.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the year as we continue our good work to advance our strategic vision to ensure the future of Puget Sound students for generations to come.
We challenge and support our students as they become broadly and deeply educated lifelong learners, prepared to create and serve the future and to become the world’s next generation of visionary leaders.