Bethany College 2020: Planning for Future Generations
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”
While architect and city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912) made these remarks to the City of London Planning Council in 1910, they are so relevant to Bethany College today that Performa Higher Education, Inc., the Wisconsin-based firm with which we are partnering to guide our Master Plan, used them to introduce its May 15, 2009, presentation to the College Board of Trustees.
Planning has been a hallmark of Bethany College since before I was hired as president in the fall of 2007, and the foundation built by The Institutional Review authorized by the Board of Trustees and carried out by the prestigious national firm James L. Fisher, LTD of Vero Beach, FL. It was a key element attracting me to this campus so rich in both tradition and possibility.
Sound strategic planning has, in fact, been instrumental in driving many changes that have, in a relatively short time, allowed the College to “turn the corner” on many institutional challenges, in the words of the recent Higher Learning Commission Evaluation Team.
Now, following The Institutional Review, and the Re-Affirmation of Accreditation, we have an opportunity to further distinguish the long history of Bethany College by continuing to address contemporary challenges, including the physical learning and living environment. As Performa reported to the Board, a few strategic high impact, low-cost initiatives to make Bethany more student-friendly and welcoming could, for example, help us to achieve more aggressive enrollment goals.
Moreover, the planning process is valuable in and of itself, not just as a means to an end. With a strong consensus-building component, it will ensure that we as a campus have a shared vision for what we are trying to do, have programs in place--and resources allocated to them—to accomplish those goals. Further, it has already focused on our procedures for evaluating whether we are achieving our goals, and mechanisms for adapting and improving our efforts based on what we learn from those procedures.
While the 10-year master plan and accreditation report propose specific enhancements in both academic and co-curricular life, all operate from the premise of building upon Bethany’s existing strengths in academics, student learning and outcomes, specifically
- Engagement in service opportunities;
- Participation in off-campus study;
- Undergraduate student engagement in graduate-level opportunities including research, conference attendance, paper-writing and successful completion of rigorous comprehensive exams.
The Performa report also identifies physical opportunities and constraints, while suggesting guidelines and a timetable for setting priorities and actually carrying out corrective maintenance, needed renovations and new capital projects. You will be hearing and reading more about this entire process as we move into the upcoming 2009-2010 academic year. The entire College community will be encouraged to contribute its input.
Rather than a fixed point in time, the entire planning process should be thought of as an ongoing journey in the life of Bethany College – an exploration every bit as valuable as the destination itself.
It’s empowering and yet, somewhat daunting, to realize that what we put into place today will last well beyond our own lifetimes, impacting the College in ways that perhaps we can neither imagine nor foresee. As Burnham said, “Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”
Except for making the “sons and grandsons” language more gender-inclusive, I wouldn’t change another thing about his perspective today.
Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.
President of the College
To see Dr. Miller's biography:
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