Final Strategic Plan: Product of Trustee, Faculty, and Student Input

The Phillips Academy Board of Trustees considered the Strategic Planning Committee’s final report this past weekend. First convened a year ago, the committee’s members incorporated their visions into the recently approved Strategic Plan, which will play a significant role in directing the school’s resources for the next five years. In a process that began in the summer of 2003, the Strategic Planning Committee consulted faculty, students and alumni in order to establish the Academy’s strategic priorities for the near future. Similar planning efforts have taken place periodically during the last 20 years. This most recent Strategic Plan is the Academy’s fifth since 1983. However, unlike previous Strategic Plans, the latest is “more about adding value rather than fixing egregious problems,” said the Strategic Planning Committee’s Co-Chair, Instructor in Philosophy and Religious Studies Susan McCaslin. “One thing that did worry us as we began our work is that for the 2003-2004 academic year, the Financial Aid Office had a lot of applicants that we couldn’t admit but wanted to admit,” said Ms. McCaslin. Accordingly, the committee discussed the Academy’s need to emphasize the school’s commitment to financial aid while renewing its dedication to the recruitment of a diverse student body. Ms. McCaslin said that much of the committee’s discussion during its September meeting was aimed at attracting more of the most coveted admitted students. “Everything followed from what kind of students we want at Phillips Academy,” said Ms. McCaslin. She continued, “It’s all about the students we bring, the program we offer them, and the faculty that teach them.” The tripartite Strategic Plan addresses attracting and providing financial aid for a superior student body, restructuring the curriculum to provide a more flexible but still broad liberal arts education, and hiring and retaining a talented faculty. The Strategic Planning Committee, which met a total of six times throughout the last year, gathered information until this past January. They first sought the opinion of students. Early last October, the committee met with the Student Council and the five Cluster Councils. “We put the councils through the same brainstorming exercises that the committee itself had done,” said Ms. McCaslin. Then, during a meeting late last November, the committee conducted a similar exercise with the faculty. According to Ms. McCaslin, Both faculty and students agreed that Andover’s program was “overloaded with too many expectations and requirements.” Although the Strategic Planning Committee is responsible for drafting the school’s Strategic Plan, it is not responsible for its implementation. The faculty elected three of the five faculty members sitting on the committee, Instructor in English Jeffrey Domina, Dean of Faculty Temba Maqubela, and Ms. McCaslin, to their positions. Several of the committee members were appointed by the administration. The Trustees on the committee include Daniel Cunningham ’67, Molly Laster ’56, Oscar Tang ’56, and Sandra Urie ’70. Ms. Urie served as the trustee Co-Chair alongside the committee’s faculty Co-Chair, Ms. McCaslin. Head of School Barbara Chase and former President of the Board of Trustees David Underwood ’54 sat on the committee as ex officio members.