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Hamilton 2032

Table Reports from Hamilton 2032 session
January 14, 2011

Assignment: Determine the 2-3 most important values, trade-offs, or things on which the College should focus; or a couple of big ideas; or a couple of things to attempt

Table #1

1. Preserve the live classroom experience, with all participants in the same room. This can be accomplished in a physical location, with all virtually using web cams, etc. or a hybrid – some in a physical location and some video-conference – but class has to be a live interaction for debate, questions, etc. (no pod casts or recorded classes). Encourage flexibility of schedule, of internships, of location of classes and also of how the information is delivered and received.

2. Foster relationships with other institutions through collaboration, merging, sharing of resources. This could include merging campuses or programs, creating a new campus to take advantage of a particular demographic or location, or sharing financial resources or challenges (e.g. healthcare) with other institutions.

3. Enhance involvement of alumni: use their experience, create connections with our undergrads, and give alumni the ability to attend or join classes virtually.

Table #2

1. Retain the face to face experience that Hamilton is known for so that we occupy a niche focused on learning and not just knowledge transfer; focus on helping students in transition from novice toward expert and helping them become independent, flexible, adaptable, creative & critical learners.
 a. Experiment with ways of using online aspects creatively to increase student experience with diversity and new areas of expertise.
 b. Build pedagogically sound models without overwhelming the faculty.

2. Retain the residential setting – level of community is a critical value – and strengthen the feeling of belonging.

Table #3

1. Preserve developing critical thinking, sense of community, student/faculty collaboration and face to face interactions, and development of intellectual skills.

2. Consider supplemental delivery models like on-line courses and shared courses with other institutions.

3. Explore off-site campuses (e.g. China, India): sell to them the value in our model of education and tap the revenue pool there.

Table #4

1. More fully utilize the campus year-round with a focus on what we do well (such as faculty/student research, arts, writing, speaking, quantitative literacy). Determine what a liberal arts “degree” at Hamilton really means, and consider using other faculty from different campuses (create distinct value).

2. Consider a 5th year required off-campus internship or alternative style to learning in the 4th year. Create a value-added experience that provides much more to support the cost. Provide career-related experience and consider funding through endowment to help support living expenses.

3. Consider adjustments to benefits offered to employees and to students. Compare adjustments in benefits offered to employees with changes other schools have made or are considering. With students, explore what the curriculum should look like (i.e. What we should pull back on that doesn't support Hamilton's current broader values [that relate to our brand]?)

Table #5

1. Continue our commitment to a liberal arts education, but do it demonstrably better than others. This should include intentionality & assessment, interdisciplinary collaboration, experiential education, commitment to writing and oral communication skills, and a common academic experience through core courses or first-year experience.

2. Continue our commitment to preserving the Hamilton experience of place and relationships, which are critical to maintaining alumni connections to Hamilton.

Table #6

1. Maintain Hamilton interactions, including translocation. The Hill is the nerve center.

2. Maintain Hamilton’s high academic standards.

3. Re-examine the curriculum and the teaching vs. scholarship mix.

Table #7
1. Foster a culture of innovation and creativity. How can we model a more dynamic institution?
 a. Unload the psychic burden that arises in 1) building consensus, and 2) complex administrative structures.
 b. Determine clear priorities and consider exploring:
  i. Task forces in place of whole faculty approach
  ii.Opportunities for collaborative relations between administration and faculty
 c. Teach creativity

Table #8
1. Maintain the College’s core values: its sense of community, especially the opportunity for personal engagement in the classroom and out; its residential character; its commitment to teaching the liberal arts which are proven to effectively foster critical thinking, flexibility of mind, and creativity. One practical suggestion came from our discussion of how we might enhance the liberal arts curriculum in the future especially as it becomes more interdisciplinary, i.e. to develop cumulative VIRTUAL “portfolios” for each student so they may map their own progress.

2. Explore the possibilities of inter-institutional collaboration, academic & otherwise, including the possibility of a satellite campus; also to consider including/admitting non-traditional and continuing learners through alumni college and community programs as well as distance learning.

3. Take advantage of technological advances (so far almost alarmingly rapid) to make all of these possibilities imaginable. We believe the College has to remain on the cutting edge of new technology and to continue to be creative and flexible about how to take the most effective advantage of it to enhance our educational mission. A practical suggestion related to our discussion of technology is to streamline and more effectively coordinate our institutional processing & record-keeping. A more efficient system would save money. Another cost saving suggestion is to find ways to use our physical facilities year round, for example, extending the academic calendar.

Table #9

1. Determine trade-offs: accessibility/personalization (using technology to decrease disparity).

2. Abolish departments to facilitate interdisciplinary studies, experience power of collaboration with systems that support collaboration and flexibility (academic & cultural).

3. Exploit our expertise, resources/links that unite us: admissions knows our students better; advising (peer) mentoring.

4. Review our institutional structure.

Table #10

1. Add “data-based” argumentation as a third prong in communication. Have Hamilton connect its quantitative & symbolic reasoning requirement with a third aspect of communication that has students sort through data, focusing on the interpretation of data and the construction of data- based arguments.

2. Experiment with methods of electronic communication with students over course material, e.g. videoconferencing (once Skype is improved) to allow Hamilton faculty to communicate with students at remote campuses in Madrid, Paris, Beijing, etc. Pursue on-line “coursework” as an important meta-skill for students to develop for adapting to the changing demands of their post-Hamilton careers.

3. Create a curriculum that deliberately emphasizes experiences that will resonate with what students will encounter in their post-Hamilton lives, e.g. skills in collaboration, living healthy lifestyles, and learning new languages and cultures. Tie methods of coursework assessment to clearly defined learning objectives, both knowledge-based and practical, especially as accountability measures become even more important.