Strategic Goals & Priorities

Our Plan is built on four interconnected Strategic Goals, supported by nine Strategic Priorities that, executed together, will achieve our vision for Sarah Lawrence.

Strategic Plan Goals

Goals

Renew Our Role as a Leader in 21st Century Education

Strategic Rationale

To renew our leadership role in education, we must take the lead in innovating for our times, building on existing strengths to respond to new student needs and intellectual developments across the disciplines. Furthermore, we must demonstrate the value of our model, and in so doing, create a new assessment methodology that will enhance our authority and influence in the academic community. Our integrative, cross-disciplinary approach is the ideal basis for creating new curriculum clusters and interdisciplinary courses that respond to new student and societal needs. Recent gifts and grants have positioned the College to make major strides in the areas of Environmental Science and Technology in the Arts, among other opportunities. We are also well positioned to pioneer new partnerships and concentrations with sister institutions in the United States and abroad, and leveraging our connection to New York City.

By raising our profile and reinforcing our leadership role, we will expand our intellectual and cultural influence. In doing so, we will attract and support excellent faculty and a larger pool of qualified students, whose accomplishments will in turn burnish our reputation further.

Strategic Priorities

  • Innovate in curricular development, student assessment, technology application, service-learning, and institutional partnerships built on our unique strengths in student-centered and practice-based learning
    • Develop a robust, innovative and multi-disciplinary 21st Century curriculum that takes advantage of our model to respond to diverse student needs and new academic developments across the disciplines
    • Create a new model for assessing student outcomes, built on our inherent culture of student learning assessment and evaluation, and export this model for broader adoption in the higher education community
    • Apply new technology for instruction, collaboration, research and assessment
    • Build bridges to the world of work and service beyond the college
    • Create new kinds of institutional partnerships that expand our portfolio and increase access to areas of student interest.
  • Raise the visibility and recognition of the achievements of the College, its faculty, students, alums, and staff
    • Define and develop Sarah Lawrence’s institutional identity to ensure that internal and external communications are concrete, consistent, and sufficiently compelling to raise visibility of the College and enhance its reputation
    • Pursue national and international media coverage of SLC’s unique educational model and its benefits
    • Develop media opportunities for the President to position the College
    • Expand opportunities for faculty to pursue subject-matter expert roles in the media
    • Increase the number of faculty scholarly and creative achievement citations in key national and international media and
    • Highlight alumni achievements of note in developing promotional and media material
    • Expand communications reach to a diverse group of high school students through print, electronic, social and other media

Critical Milestones

Cultivate a Vibrant, Diverse & Engaged Community

Strategic Rationale

We are committed to cultivating a community of students, faculty, staff and alumnae/i that produces graduates with the skills they need to make a difference in their own and others’ lives.

To sustain a learning environment that promotes intellectual challenge, diversity and a positive social dynamic on campus, the College aims to achieve an undergraduate and graduate applicant pool sufficient to ensure student selectivity and yield.

In addition to addressing students’ academic needs, we must also support their social and physical well-being through graduation, and help them to prepare for the world beyond college by connecting with and contributing to the larger community -- locally, nationally and globally.

Strategic Priorities

  • Attract a diverse pool of creative and intellectually motivated students
    • Enlarge the pool of applicants to enhance selectivity and diversity by refining the focus of recruiting efforts, and increasing our direct outreach to guidance counselors, prospective applicants and parents.
    • Improve our external communications and associated admissions recruiting materials to better articulate the value of a Sarah Lawrence education, including our preeminence in creative fields.
    • Achieve a greater co-education balance
    • Identify and emphasize key disciplines that support recruitment by more clearly demonstrating the depth and value of a Sarah Lawrence education.
    • Increase affordability while responding to institutional financial priorities.
  • Support a lively and engaging campus environment that fosters social interactions, diversity, student satisfaction and long term attachment to the College
    • Create and re-design campus spaces to promote social interactions among students, facilitate student-faculty connections, and provide student services
    • Enhance campus social life
    • Continue to foster and promote a campus climate that respects and cultivates diversity in all of its forms; ensure that diversity initiatives across departments (Admission, Student Affairs, Human Resources, curricular development) are coordinated and overseen by a senior member of the College’s administration.
    • Pursue NCAA Division III membership to ensure that intramural and intercollegiate athletics remain integrated into the core mission of the College
    • Integrate graduate students into college life
    • Improve intramural communications about College activities and events
  • Expand student opportunities to participate in and prepare for the world beyond college
    • Enhance co-curricular community engagement
    • Create new undergraduate and graduate programs

Critical Milestones

Fortify the Distinctive Attributes of the College

Strategic Rationale

Unlike many other liberal arts colleges, Sarah Lawrence offers a genuinely distinctive educational experience, grounded in a firmly held philosophy and approach to learning and teaching.

To deliver on our promise, we must nurture and fortify those distinctive attributes that are at the heart of our purpose, and create the unique value in our education: our First Year Studies experience that prepares students for the rigors and pleasures of a Sarah Lawrence education while it introduces them to a field of study; the Donning system that goes well beyond traditional academic advising to build students’ capacities to direct their educations and make life choices; the Conference system, in which faculty have standing, one-on-one appointments with each of their students, and which gives full scope to each student’s interests and passions, while providing a disciplined framework for these explorations, and Practice-Based Learning that allows students to apply and test the theories they discuss in the classroom, and develop new models grounded in experience.

The distinctive features of our model must work with a high degree of efficacy and consistency in order to provide a successful intellectual and personal experience for students; we know that the quality of these experiences contribute significantly to student satisfaction and retention, as well as to alumnae/I engagement after school.

The effectiveness of our system depends on our ability to support our unique faculty—accomplished scholars and artists who teach subjects of their choice and who put teaching and student development at the heart of their work. These actively engaged scholar-teachers are present on campus and work with students throughout the day, at least four days a week. This paradigm is divergent from other colleges and universities, where full-time faculty often spend half that amount of time on campus, and while it exacts a higher level of engagement from our faculty, it also creates a more cohesive sense of community that affects the functioning of the entire school.

Strategic Priorities

  • Assess and strengthen the core elements of the Sarah Lawrence educational model
    • Ensure the first year academic experience meets the needs of new students
    • Review and enhance Donning, Conference System and Practice-Based Learning
    • Implement faculty training, enhance communication regarding expectations
    • Preserve and, when finances permit, enhance our low student-faculty ratio, an essential component of Donning, the Conference System, and institutional support for faculty development.
  • Support the professional and artistic development of the faculty within a culture of teaching and learning
    • Strengthen support for artistic and scholarly work
    • Strengthen opportunities for collaboration
    • Encourage faculty-led instructional and curricular innovations to bolster and advance our educational approach, and invest in the depth of academic offerings
    • Improve physical working environment, including dining facilities and offices

Critical Milestones

Build Our Capacity to Deliver on Our Mission

Strategic Rationale

Our capacity to deliver on our mission relies on a sustainable strategic approach to managing our operational and financial resources as well as on maintaining enrollment at capacity while managing the tuition discount to sustainable levels.

The commitment, creativity and energy of all our staff will set the tone and drive the pace of implementation. We embrace the importance of developing a supportive, high-performance culture, characterized by the confidence, optimism, pride and enthusiasm of all who work at the College at every level.

In an increasingly demanding environment, we must also ensure that the College achieves the financial capacity to sustain and fund the core instructional mission of the college; faculty‐led curricular innovations; the accessibility goals of our student recruiting efforts, and the upgrade of our facilities. As Sarah Lawrence moves to establish a sustainable economic and operational foundation, we have set as one of our highest priorities a return to a policy of annual increases at or above inflation beginning in 2011-12. The College is also strongly committed to improving faculty and staff compensation, with the goal of bringing compensation to the median of our peer institutions, taking into consideration the cost of living in the New York metropolitan area, by the year 2020. Generating the resources needed to support this will be dependent on the success of the planned capital campaign. Alongside our ambition to increase our fundraising and revenue generation capacity, we are equally committed to managing our cost base, and making most efficient use of space and other resources. We will seek out organizational and structural changes that enhance our capacity to deliver on our mission even as they reduce expenses.

Strategic Priorities

  • Foster an effective, professional and diverse working environment and ensure support for and recognition of staff contributions to our mission.
    • Engage faculty and staff in SLC strategy and values
    • Streamline internal communications and policies
    • Create professional training and career development opportunities for staff
    • Leverage the professional skill sets of staff by encouraging cross-training of staff whenever possible
    • Improve staff-faculty communication through shared participation in governance and college planning activities
    • Celebrate staff’s contributions to the development of SLC; create opportunities to build staff espirit d’corps.
  • Establish a sustainable economic and operational foundation for our future
    • Upgrade annual fundraising capacity
    • Achieve financial aid balance
    • Add new revenue sources
    • Develop new graduate, undergraduate and non-credit programs
    • Improve space utilization
    • Launch Capital Campaign
    • Re-engage alums through strong alumni networks
    • Embed sustainability principles into all college operations

Critical Milestones