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Foundations for Hamilton’s Next 200 Years

Hamilton College Strategic Plan Update

February 2009
1. Education for Self-Direction: An open curriculum challenges students to acquire a broad liberal arts education. We will help students meet that challenge by making structural and policy improvements to existing advising and course selection procedures. Likewise, we will assess College programs and procedures to ensure that the educational experience is sufficiently rigorous, accessible, and pertinent to our changing student demographic. Action programs for implementation in this plan are organized into four areas:

A. Advising and Curricular Programs, Policies, and Procedures
Convene a task force, working with the Committee on Academic Policy, to review the following: a concern about disparities in advising; a decline in the number of students taking courses with a quantitative literacy component; a rise in average grades; a perception that department offerings and student curricular choices favor depth over breadth; and the ability of juniors and seniors to enroll in courses outside their concentration (DoF).

Update February 2009: A Task Force on Advising was established in January 2009 with the following members: Steve Yao, chair; Todd Franklin; Steve Orvis; Edith Toegel; Leslie North; Leslie Bell; Phyllis Breland ’80; Karen Brewer; Kristin Friedel. The Committee on Academic Policy will consider all of the other issues except advising.

B. Co-Curricular Programming
Evaluate the reallocation of existing space for the creation of a cultural education center (VPA&F, DoF, DoS, VPIT)

Update February 2009: A Task Force on the Cultural Education Center was established in January 2009 with the following members: Edwin Gaston ’11; Denise Ghartey ’12; Julio Videras, chair; Bill Huggins; Angel Nieves; Lisa Magnarelli ’96.[View meeting notes]

C. Athletics and Physical Education Program
Pursue full integration into NESCAC for all intercollegiate athletics teams (DoF, DA&FA)

Update February 2009: Hamilton continues to pursue this objective with NESCAC presidents.

Expand partnerships between physical education and academics (DoF)

Update February 2009: This action item was referred to the faculty's standing Committee on Athletics in January 2009.

D. Academic Facilities
Complete construction projects already under way (VPA&F)

Update February 2009: Phase 2 of the renovation and expansion of the Kirner-Johnson Building is on schedule and on budget.

Continue with planning and design for new projects (VPA&F, VPIT)

Update: February 2009: The College has contracted for schematic designs from its arts facilities architects.

Undertake a fuller study of campus use in the summer (All) and pursue summer academic workshops, seminars and institutes that make use of academic buildings, reflect institutional emphases, and take advantage of faculty strengths and expertise (DoF) [Also being considered as part of Item 4 “Engagement with the World,” Section B “Scholarship and Creative Activity”]

Update February 2009: A Task Force on Summer Programs was established in January 2009 to “consider the establishment of summer conferences and programs that reflect institutional priorities. Its membership includes: Andrew Jillings, chair; Maurice Isserman; Onno Oerlemans; Sharon Williams, Dannelle Parker; Sharon Rippey; Irene Cornish; and Margie Thickstun.

2. Self-Governing Community: Education for self-direction demands an inclusive self-governing community. To the extent possible, constituencies ought to be self-regulating – students regulating students, faculty governing faculty, and staff administering to staff – as well as interlocking, to assure consistent, inclusive, and effective exchange and interaction. Some of this happens already: students regulate themselves through Student Assembly, the Honor Code, and the Judicial Board, and faculty do the same through policies and procedures set forth in the Faculty Handbook. Because all employees add an important perspective, new governance policies will incorporate a fuller range of voices and accommodate greater representation among and between campus constituencies. Various planning subcommittees called for enhancing self-governance at Hamilton; ideas fell into three categories:

A. Community Building
Review the way all students are acclimated to campus (DoS)

Update February 2009: This action item was referred in January 2009 to the faculty’s standing Committee on Student Activities.

Reexamine the four classifications of employee groups (VPA&F)

Update February 2009: This action item was referred in January 2009 to the Campus Planning Committee, which was charged to “pursue new governance structures and a more inclusive governing organization.” (see also Governance Policy and Procedures below)

Continue progress toward a campus population whose diversity reflects the coming generations of employees and students (All)

Update February 2009: The Senior Staff is considering expansion of opportunity programs.

B. Governance Policy and Procedures
Evaluate the work of all committees to ensure transparency, inclusiveness, and representation (DoF, VPA&F, DoS, EAP) and pursue new governance structures and a more inclusive governing organization (VPA&F)

Update February 2009: This action item was referred in January 2009 to the Campus Planning Committee. In February the committee began deliberations on the creation of a staff assembly (for all non-faculty employees) and the inclusion of students on standing committees.

C. Co-Curricular Social and Residential Facilities
Convene a task force of faculty and students to make recommendations for increased opportunities for co-curricular faculty and student engagement (DoF, DoS)

Update February 2009: This action item was referred in January 2009 to the faculty’s standing Committee on Student Activities.

Pursue athletics facilities that can be completed through the plant renewal budget or through fundraising (DoF, VPA&F, VPC&D, VPIT)

Update February 2009: Pricing being obtained in the event funding becomes available.

D. Sustainability
Implement the recommendations of the Green Team and fulfill the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (VPA&F, VPIT)

Update February 2009: In January, the College’s sustainability committee reviewed a study of Hamilton’s environmental stewardship and carbon footprint. Created by the consulting firm Sightlines, the study measured, monitored and benchmarked Hamilton against other colleges and universities and analyzed the distribution of its greenhouse emissions by various activities. In addition, planning is under way for summer construction projects that will further Hamilton’s commitment to sustainability. Projects include the demolition of North and South Courts (with attendant storm water retention improvements, re-use of the exterior stone and reduction in energy usage), the replacement of windows in Benedict Hall and upgrades to the heating system in Benedict.

3. Dialogue and Debate: Self-direction and self-governance require and engender dialogue and debate; opportunities to enhance skills and deepen expertise will be provided to all students and employees, ensuring that the College is an educational institution for all. Hamilton stands firmly in support of academic freedom. We also recognize that with such freedom comes the responsibility to accept ownership of one's ideas and to be prepared to defend one’s position, and to be able to articulate the positions of others and engage them respectfully. The strategic planning subcommittees identified three areas in which to focus our efforts:

A. Effective Communication
Increase communications vehicles that contribute to full participation in the life and functioning of the College (All)

Update February 2009: Senior Staff is considering implementation strategies for this action item.

B. Student Development
Establish a task force to review how students are acclimated to Hamilton (DoS, DoF)

Update February 2009: This action item was referred in January 2009 to the faculty’s standing Committee on Student Activities.

C. Faculty and Staff Development
Invest in new and continuing employees (All)

Update February 2009: Compensation surveys were completed and the results were reported to the Staff Advisory Council. “Hamilton Cares” was launched in February 2009 to recognize major events in the personal lives of College employees.

4. Engagement with the World: The purpose of an education centered on self-direction, self-governance, and thoughtful dialogue is to prepare students for effective engagement with the world. Society is served by giving students and faculty alike a place for thinking, imagining, and creating. But on a more practical level – and especially in this economy – we recognize that everything we do on College Hill is influenced by the world around us. While our purposes and goals are lofty, our realities are shaped in part by forces beyond us. At the same time, we are not here simply to perpetuate Hamilton College, but to help students prepare themselves for careers and service in the nation and beyond.

A. Diversity and Access
Meet the demonstrated financial need of every student (DA&FA, VPC&D)

Update February 2009: Hamilton reaffirmed its policy to meet the full demonstrated need of each student and the College continues to respond to mid-year requests from current students for new or increased financial aid.

Become need-blind in admission (DA&FA, VPC&D, VPA&F)

Update February 2009: For the second consecutive year, the admission staff will monitor and attempt to reduce the number of cases where a family's ability to pay becomes a factor in the admission decision.

Increase the percentage of students and employees of color (All)

Update February 2009: We are in the midst of employee hiring and student recruitment cycles for the 2009-10 academic year and this action item is a factor in our deliberations. The College continues to consider new markets in which to advertise to increase diversity in the applicant pool.

B. Scholarship and Creative Activity
Compensate faculty based on teaching, research, and service (DoF)

Update February 2009: Compensation decisions will be made later in the spring mindful of economic circumstances.

Support faculty scholarship that leads to publication and presentation (DoF)

Update February 2009: The Dean of Faculty’s annual bibliography of faculty publications, exhibitions and presentations is in production.

Increase opportunities for student research and presentation (DoF)

Update February 2009: Hamilton recently announced a new endowment to provide funding for students conducting summer research in chemistry.

Consider the establishment of summer conferences and programs that reflect institutional priorities (DoF, VPA&F, VPIT) [Also being considered as part of Item 1 “Education for Self-Direction,” Section D “Academic Facilities”]

Update February 2009: A Task Force on Summer Programs was established in January 2009 to “consider the establishment of summer conferences and programs that reflect institutional priorities. Its membership includes: Andrew Jillings, chair; Maurice Isserman; Onno Oerlemans; Sharon Williams, Dannelle Parker; Sharon Rippey; Irene Cornish; and Margie Thickstun.

C. Employee Satisfaction
Be the employer of choice for all employees (All)

  • Maintain competitive salaries for all employees

Update February 2009: Compensation decisions will be made later this spring mindful of economic circumstances.

  • Ensure clear processes for evaluation and compensation

Update February 2009: The Human Resources Office is working on a pilot project to consider standardization of functions for positions that are similar.

  • Provide support for spouses/partners of talented new hires in finding employment

Update February 2009: Hamilton is a member of the Upstate New York affiliate of the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, which provides online resources to people considering a move to the area. The College also works directly with other local college recruitment officers to uncover possible job opportunities. Spouses and partners of new hires are eligible to enroll in classes at Hamilton free-of-charge.

  • Review health insurance subsidies for retirees and long-term disability policies

Update February 2009: Hamilton will continue to review its competitive market position regarding these benefits in the coming year. Changes to health insurance subsidies and long-term disability policies will be considered as part of the 2010-11 budget cycle. Such changes were not economically feasible in 2009-10.

D. Community Service and Outreach
Support initiatives that encourage civic engagement (DoF, DoS, VPIT)

Update February 2009: Hamilton has renewed its participation in the Imagining America Initiative and will soon formally announce the establishment of the Community Outreach and Opportunity Program (COOP).

Create and sustain partnerships with the Town of Kirkland and Village of Clinton (VPIT)

Update February 2009: Hamilton provided a one-time $10,000 grant in January 2009 that enabled the Town of Kirkland to resume plowing the 26.5 miles of county roads in the town.



Implementation of the Strategic Plan is the responsibility of the College's Senior Staff:

Joan Hinde Stewart, President
Meredith Harper Bonham, Executive Assistant to the President (EAP)
Monica Inzer, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid (DA&FA)
Karen Leach, Vice President, Administration and Finance (VPA&F)
Dave Smallen, Vice President for Information Technology (VPIT)
Dick Tantillo, Vice President, Communications and Development (VPC&D)
Nancy Thompson, Dean of Students (DoS)
Joe Urgo, Dean of Faculty (DoF)

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