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President Ditzler unveils new strategic plan

March 2, 2012

President Mauri Ditzler announced plans for Monmouth’s future Thursday, March 1 in Dahl Chapel.

At their February meeting in California, the trustees drafted a four-part strategic plan and a master plan for construction on campus. Along with revealing the two new plans, Ditzler also spoke about the science and business building that is currently under construction.

According to Ditzler, the strategic plan honors the founders of Monmouth College by working to fulfill promises made at the college’s start. The strategic plan has been under development since the summer of 2009, when a group of faculty met to discuss the issue of “What is most important for colleges in the 21st century?” The faculty then constructed a list of ideas that focused on improving the perceived value of academics and was brought to a workshop of different faculty members in 2010. The new group of faculty members discussed how Monmouth College could improve its characteristics of academic excellence. The list was then edited, broken down and combined with other ideas to comprise active learning, citizenship and integrated learning, the ideas that are now seen in the strategic plan.

The first promise in the Strategic Plan is “Build an environment that promotes active learning.”

“This is not just learning in the classroom, but by being engaged with professors or in the lab,” said Ditzler of the first promise. “We also want to make sure we take advantage of the twenty-first century technological resources we have.”

With this step of the plan, the college wants to integrate more research projects, small class settings, co-curricular activities and travel opportunities.

The second principle is to “inspire students to lead and serve society using democratic principles.” This step of the plan encourages integrated studies especially the senior citizenship capstone, discussion-friendly environments and classrooms that teach students to speak and write persuasively.

The third principle, “Prepare students to solve complex problems” becomes a basis for liberal arts students. According to Ditzler, students are too focused on becoming specialists.

“The most complex problems in the world cannot be solved by one person,” Ditzler said. “Big problems are solved by teams. There needs to be someone who can listen and bring those ideas together to solve the problem and fit the knowledge all together.”

The last principle of the Strategic Plan is to “Guide students to discover meaningful careers and purpose in life.”

Monmouth College hopes to expand the career center, peer tutoring, alumni networking and spiritual life.

The Strategic Plan is one Ditzler is adamant on sticking to. Strategic plans are typically carried out within a five year period.

However, the Master Plan that Ditzler unveiled at the news conference will be modified. Master Plans are carried out over a 15 year span, a time period that allows for growth and development of the previous plan. Monmouth College recently finished a Master Plan. Ditzler said 80 percent of that plan was carried out. Parts of the Master Plan include:

• Adding an academic corridor to the face of campus

• Reconstructing the library into a learning commons, adding learning commons to all other campus lounges

• Consolidating the performing and fine arts by possibly attaching McMichael Academic with Wells Theater

• Placing Student Life and Student Success Centers in the center of campus

• Grouping residence halls to promote community

• Possibly tear down Stockdale and Haldeman-Thiessen to build a student center on the grounds of HT

• Tear down Fraternity Complex and replace with dormitories

• Add small housing, designate area for Greek housing

Progress of the new science and building business was also discussed. In 2006, the idea for this building was developed at the Galena Retreat. In 2008, the design was actually planned. Before construction could begin, Trustees ordered that 100 percent of funding had to be pledged or promised or obtained. In 2006, the estimate for the building was $40 million. Fortunately, because of the economy, building costs have remained the same and the construction of the new building will fall within $100,000 of the original estimate.

After the presentation, the floor was open for questions. Professor Ken Cramer asked if Monmouth had the funds to finish the building.

Ditzler explained that since much of the pledge money is not guaranteed until the person’s death or other related factors, the college did have to take out a $10 million loan. Ditzler is hoping pledges will continue to come until the building is completed. Until then, it is possible that items like furniture may be borrowed from HT until the proper funds are found to replace the old items.

Another question was asked about the naming of the building. Ditzler made a promise that at least part of the building- whether the building itself or a lounge- would be named in honor of Professor Richard “Doc” Keift- a chemistry professor and advisor of Zeta Beta Tau who passed away in 2010 to cancer.

“Until we are ready to unveil the building,” Ditzler said, “we can’t announce until it is finalized. We will have to leave it a surprise. But Doc will be memorialized on the building.”

Stevie Croisant
Copy/Layout Editor

 

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