It's ourWofford

A Strategic Vision for Wofford College

Wofford College will be a premier, innovative and distinctive national liberal arts college defined by excellence, engagement and transformation in its commitment to prepare superior students for meaningful lives as citizens, leaders and scholars.

About the

Vision

Stacy-Vision
Imagine a college where each student’s experience—academic, residential and co-curricular—is merged together seamlessly. A place of full-time learning from the classroom to the playing field to the residence hall. A dynamic environment where students receive a liberal arts education that emphasizes leadership, engagement and global context, giving them the skills and experience to address complex challenges around such themes as poverty and development, environment and sustainability, technology and society, and identity and culture. This is the Wofford learning experience we are imagining. And we believe this experience can become a leading educational model for developing well-rounded, exceptional citizens of the 21st century.

Extraordinary citizens and lifelong learners emerge organically—and a great college provides the right conditions for that organic process to occur. Students must have room to create and explore in creative physical, intellectual and virtual spaces. They must have opportunities to engage and debate with one another, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and community members. These unstructured face-to-face interactions often lead to connections across disciplines and spaces, including regional and global communities that produce new understanding, new knowledge and new possibilities.

See the Strategic Vision: At-A-Glance.
See the Strategic Vision document.

This vision of an interwoven Wofford learning community is guiding us as we recommend ways to strengthen our existing academic programs and identify new and exciting areas of learning. We are building on an exceptionally strong foundation that includes vibrant connections between faculty and students, a commitment to cultivating citizenship, civic engagement and leadership opportunities as an integral part of the educational experience, an innovative residential community and an Interim and international programs emphasis that are recognized in the field. These and other components of Wofford’s liberal arts program extend and deepen the liberal arts mission every day. In recent decades, Wofford also has committed itself to creating a liberal arts environment that includes courses in finance and accounting, career preparation and Division I athletics. All these steps, along with increasing the diversity and global outlook of our student population, move us forward even more as we eliminate the seams between residential and academic life and strengthen the Wofford community while expanding its scope. This vision cements Wofford’s commitment to extending the spirit of engagement and collaboration that came together throughout the visioning process. It embraces an intimate student population for one-on-one learning, integrates residential and extracurricular into the learning experience, and celebrates diversity, financial and environmental sustainability, and creativity and community involvement.

Looking Back: A History of People and Place
“A good college, like Janus, must always be looking forward and backward. We cannot and should not turn our backs on the past. But we also should not walk backwards into the future.” Dr. Lewis P. Jones ’38, a much-loved professor of history at Wofford and famed South Carolina historian, shared these words with Wofford alumni on one of the many occasions on which he was asked to speak. People loved his dry wit, but more than that, they loved his sense of honor, integrity and justice. He was a mentor to many and a true son of Wofford.

Today, we at Wofford College stand on the shoulders of the many women and men, who, like Lewis P. Jones, experienced Wofford then went out into the world to share the spirit of Wofford with others. Certainly, the story of Wofford College begins with The Rev. Benjamin Wofford and the college’s United Methodist beginnings. The cornerstone of Main Building was laid on July 4, 1851, with remarks by Methodist Bishop William Wightman, who would become the college’s first president. Designed by architect Edward C. Jones of Charleston, S.C., Main Building was built by skilled African-American carpenters and brick masons, many of whom were slaves. [During Old Main’s most recent renovation, the college installed a monument to these unsung artisans and laborers.] Classes started in August 1854 with three faculty members and seven students. The first Wofford degree was awarded in 1856 to Samuel Dibble, a future United States Congressman.

Since the beginning Wofford College has been about people—students, faculty, alumni, trustees and friends. The first generation experienced the horrors of the Civil War. Many students and young alumni, including two sons of faculty members, were killed in the great Virginia battles of 1864. The second generation (1876-1902) learned citizenship and service from President James H. Carlisle. Carlisle initially taught mathematics and astronomy, but his real strength was his ability to develop alumni of character, one student at a time. During his tenure, students solidified a fraternity presence on campus, formed the first football and baseball teams and founded The Journal, one of the South’s earliest literary magazines. Between 1902 and 1942 the college worked to define and shape “the Mind of the South,” and earned its chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Although eight women graduated from the college between 1901 and 1904, the average enrollment in the early 20th century was about 400 men. During this time, students founded the Old Gold and Black student newspaper, the Senior Order of Gnomes and the first Campus Union student government. World War II and the Cold War profoundly shaped the experiences of a fourth generation from the 1940s through the 1970s. Wofford graduates served in the military in large numbers, and at least 75 were killed. Wofford’s enrollment was so drastically reduced that the Army took over the campus on Feb. 22, 1943, to offer accelerated academic instruction for Air Corps officers. Born in the years immediately following World War II, the “Baby Boomers” joining the Wofford community included women and minorities. Douglas Jones ’69 and Albert W. Gray ’71 were the first African-Americans to enroll and graduate from the college. A new emphasis on the arts and humanities and the development of the January Interim term also were key developments of that era. In the late 1980s the college adopted a master plan that laid the foundations for change and progress into our sixth generation.

The history of Wofford also is about place—our dogwood- and magnolia-rooted alma mater on the city’s northern border links generations regardless of race or ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic status. Wofford is one of only a handful of American colleges founded before the Civil War that continue to operate on their original campuses. For 160 years, it has shared good times and bad times with the surrounding city, state and nation. Wofford College—the people and the place—shaped us all.
Now we embark upon a new vision that promises to make Wofford College more relevant and important to the world than ever before, but the changes to come will not—for one minute—diminish the values that always have shaped Wofford College and all of us who call it home.

The words that Professor Kenneth Coates wrote for the Wofford Centennial in 1954 still ring true as Wofford enters a new era of education, leadership and service: “Somehow, in spite of all the complexities, the individual student still manages to come in contact with the individual teacher. And occasionally, as in the old days, a student goes out and by words and deeds makes a professor remembered for good intentions, and a college respected for the quality of its workmanship.”

Raising the Bar
Liberal arts colleges have proven themselves to be extremely resilient institutions. For more than 200 years, they have not only survived major social and economic upheaval, they have prospered as each generation of teachers and students finds a basis of learning, with critical inquiry and intellectual rigor at the heart, that allows them to address the questions and issues of their day. This vitality and flexibility built into the core of the liberal arts leads to the kind of innovation and leadership that has contributed so much to human development.

Institutions that have been most successful at supporting this form of education focus on the attributes of vitality and flexibility as they look closely at existing programs and curricula to increase distinctiveness and value. They consider just how to align opportunities and needs to form the most promising whole. Many campus-wide strategic plans that are designed to advance these aims produce recommendations that fall into one of two categories—action the campus can achieve by reallocating current funds or improving practices, and action that requires decision-making by trustees. Both lead to important change.

The plan for Wofford College sets out just these kinds of progressive strategic action. In spring 2013, the Board of Trustees and its Planning Committee began the process as it was concluding the search for a new president. In July 2013, President Nayef Samhat took office and assumed leadership of the work. Throughout the entire process, hundreds of people, including alumni and parents, came together to learn more about what makes Wofford distinctive and what could be improved. The first steps were to gather many opinions and begin to determine the most promising ideas. Then President Samhat and a campus-wide steering group determined that four themes were prominent—the liberal arts learning agenda for the 21st century, developing leaders for the 21st century, strengthening campus and community and extending our scope.

The next step was to establish working groups of faculty and staff to explore and make recommendations in each of the four areas. Each group was led by a pair of faculty or staff members and benefited from the guidance of two representatives from the Board. (See Appendix A for the members of each group.)

In January 2014, President Samhat charged the working groups to generate ideas and strategies that build on Wofford’s strengths and serve to distinguish the college among residential liberal arts institutions in the nation. He asked each group to consider what it means to be a residential liberal arts college of the 21st century. After surveying colleagues (including the following lists of schools), conducting scans and peer research, talking to students and engaging intensely with each other, each group submitted its recommendations in April. Faculty and staff reviewed the ideas the following month and the steering group convened to frame this vision.

President Samhat and his leadership team are developing other plans in parallel with this project, including plans for enrollment and financial aid, marketing and communications and a master plan for the physical campus. Taken together, these plans are designed to make powerful progress in an impressively short period of time.

chart-PeerInstitutions Scanning the environment and comparing various aspects of peer institutions is another useful feature of progressive plans. For this project, the working groups looked closely at peer institutions by reviewing programs in the arts, music, sustainability, libraries, academic technology, diversity, residence life and theme housing across national liberal arts colleges. Rather than emulate what might work at other places, each group used the information to shape recommendations for Wofford.

By bringing together these analyses and, more importantly, building on our past, the College’s history of indisputable honor and integrity as well as its own uniqueness, Wofford intends to raise the bar even higher for a top liberal arts residential learning experience by taking a more holistic, integrated and collaborative view of the four years our students spend with us. To offer each student a truly extraordinary experience, we must continue to develop and nourish an intellectual, ethical, multicultural and aesthetic atmosphere in which the serious and inquiring minds of all members of the Wofford community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, administrators and trustees, are challenged to work collaboratively toward a common search for truth and freedom. The five overarching recommendations that make up this plan—each with several parts—are designed to help Wofford College achieve this goal.



Recommendation

One

Educate Superior Students:
The Vision of Academic Excellence

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Educate superior undergraduates for rich, productive lives by strengthening the liberal arts curriculum; creating a connecting point for scholarship, learning resources and educational technology; increasing facilities and support for the arts and other creative endeavors; providing enhanced space for our new and ongoing Environmental Studies program; and sustaining our investment in the highest quality faculty who are committed to liberal arts education as well as outstanding performers in their fields. 

Participation is the key to a deep, meaningful education. It is also one of the primary reasons why people place so much value in residential liberal arts colleges, where opportunities for engagement abound. This recommendation seeks to maximize intellectual, creative and community participation—here and throughout the world—so that Wofford students receive the skills and experience they need to accomplish extraordinary things.

Some of the ideas that follow aim to increase support for distinctive parts of the current Wofford experience—boosting them to new levels of excellence, achievement and engagement, a distinctive mark of private higher education in this country. On average, for example, first-year and senior students at private colleges report a higher level of engagement in academically challenging work compared with their counterparts at public institutions. As the chart shows, in 2011, seniors at private colleges had the highest mean score overall at 60 percent.

As a national liberal arts college with a tightly knit faculty community, Wofford has a long tradition of interdisciplinary collaboration. Wofford can distinguish itself from other liberal arts institutions with new investment in programs that allow students to pursue academic expression and curiosity with community service, international programs and independent learning. Our signature Interim program has been doing so since 1968. As more students are turning their attention to issues surrounding the environment and sustainability, we can build on such assets as the Goodall Environmental Studies Center, a LEED Platinum-renovated facility close to the Lawson’s Fork of the Pacolet River, and students and scholars who are committed to ongoing civic engagement.

Our facilities need to support the full range of exploration and creativity in our community. In the past decade, academic libraries have moved to the forefront as spaces that offer exciting connecting points and resources for research, educational technology, collaboration, networking and creativity. This new role is reflected in their design as facilities that feature flexible spaces for emerging educational trends and new technologies, and sites for quiet research, group discussions and informal interactions.

An arts center plays a vital role in the community because it embodies imagination, invention and collaboration. Whatever fields and disciplines students pursue, a strong arts program promotes a creative approach that is critical to success in today’s complex world. As we develop a more vibrant community, in and out of the classroom, we need to provide a stronger presence—in a centrally located facility—for the interdisciplinary, creative activities supported by theater and the visual arts. In addition, just as athletics programs increase participation and diversity on campus, so do the arts in terms of both performers and spectators/audiences.

chart-Rec1-Work

Another important connection that leads to engagement is a stronger investment in the environment and sustainability in the curriculum, the co-curriculum and at the core of the institution. Environmental Studies is one of the most interdisciplinary areas in the college—it encompasses all forms of human endeavor, from science to law to poetry, as we grapple with the complex issues surrounding our stewardship of the Earth. The quest for sustainability—curtailing our ecological impacts while improving quality of life—requires leaders to connect management and strategic planning to the academic mission.

Of course, all of these ideas will succeed only if the faculty remains strong, vibrant and engaged in the latest thinking about pedagogy, technology and many other critical topics. Faculty interaction with students is the foundation of the liberal arts, and alumni often look back and realize it was a certain professor, at a pivotal time in the student’s life, that made a world of difference.

As we developed this plan, for example, we heard from many people about the lasting difference these individuals made. During one interview, a graduate talked about his life-changing experience involving an Interim travel project with two professors. “While the content of the course was captivating, the thing that most moved me was the collaboration of the two professors. Abroad with these two professors for several weeks, it dawned upon me that it is possible to tailor our lives and careers around the things that move us most.” Testimonials such as this underscore the necessity to recruit, recognize and reward the finest and most talented faculty if we are to reach our ambitious goals.

This recommendation has five parts: 

1. Provide a strong and distinctive liberal arts curriculum that includes opportunities for in-depth research and pedagogies that cross disciplines to involve experiential learning, collaboration and the latest technology including international programs, interdisciplinary initiatives and core curriculum. Just as importantly, help students prepare for a rapidly changing, interdependent world while remaining true to the values of a liberally educated citizen. (ACADEMICS) 

We recommend developing new interdisciplinary majors and programs as well as promoting collaboration across disciplines to advance teaching. These should include co-teaching, linked courses, learning communities and living-learning communities. With a strategic focus on innovation, collaboration and support, Wofford could expand the breadth of its offerings significantly with the addition of relatively few faculty members. To support the increase of interdisciplinary activity, expand the Center for Innovation and Learning so it can do more to support teaching effectiveness. It is especially helpful for early career faculty to get new ideas and feedback as they develop their classroom skills.

At the same time, we recommend a renewed focus on the general education requirements, which we advocate renaming the Core Curriculum. Such a curriculum should provide academic challenge and model ways of examining issues from multiple perspectives, assessing and reflecting on ethical implications and employing the techniques and insights of a variety of disciplines to foster creative solutions. It should include a common first-year experience that extends beyond the current requirement, as well as specific sophomore, junior and senior experiences.

Students should have high impact experiential learning opportunities. Increasingly, outstanding students expect to participate in research to explore subjects in-depth with guidance from faculty. To recruit and support more students looking for such opportunities, Wofford should increase funding for collaborative research, incorporate student projects into the curriculum and provide travel grants to allow students to attend and present research at conferences and for student field and archival research.

Another high impact learning opportunity is international programs. These off-campus experiences are becoming even more relevant as we integrate the global context throughout the curriculum. To increase the pace of integration, Wofford should ensure that each student has at least one international program opportunity during Interim and establish a curricular initiative that integrates global learning into the overall academic experience when students return.

To allow more students and faculty to take advantage of Interim, we recommend expanding into the summer months, enabling student-athletes to participate as well as permitting students to engage in educational experiences that are only possible at that time of year. Wofford should explore more ways to configure Interim as part of general education and consider hiring a full-time staff member to oversee the program. With these changes, Interim will do even more to embody Wofford’s support for non-traditional forms of learning and underscore that cultivating intellectual curiosity is a key element of a full life. The social science disciplines have vital contributions to make in helping students integrate global and intercultural experiences into their growing understanding of the world.

How can we help students consolidate and reflect on these learning experiences? With an e-portfolio program, students can create a repository of their four years of work that captures the scope of their academic careers as well as deeper reflections about their experiences at Wofford. As a result, students will become more aware of the connections they have made and how to articulate their skills and experiences to potential employers, graduate school interviewers and others. We believe that such a record will lead to more engaged alumni as well.

We recommend amending Wofford’s mission statement to include sustainability and a global context as core values, and we urge the addition of administrative support to manage the development, implementation and evaluation of practices focused on strengthening curricular and co-curricular learning; promoting faculty, staff and student interaction; and enhancing civic engagement. With such support, the college could demonstrate the interplay of sustainability, our place in a complex global system, learning resources and help students make the most of the ensuing learning opportunities. As Wofford implements the changes and enhancements under this goal, many of our students will become increasingly competitive for prestigious postgraduate fellowships.

We also recommend that the college highlight the Goodall Environmental Studies Center as we explore sustainability, discover how natural and human systems interrelate through time and solve problems creatively through teamwork and planning.

2. Recruit and retain superior faculty who excel in their fields with a demonstrated love of and commitment to excellence in undergraduate education. (ACADEMICS, FACULTY/STAFF) 

We seek to preserve our tradition of excellent superior undergraduate instruction by enriching our teaching and mentoring relationships with more opportunities for undergraduate research, collaboration and community engagement. Accordingly, we recommend developing specific strategies to support and retain our talented, committed faculty. Such an emphasis is critical to Wofford’s future.

Certain investments contribute greatly to professional engagement and retention, including strong faculty development and sabbatical programs to help faculty update knowledge in their fields and consider new approaches to teaching. Bringing discipline-specific speakers to campus is another valuable investment. By inspiring both faculty and students, activities such as these increase the breadth of educational experiences significantly. Of course, competitive compensation is a critical factor in faculty recruitment and retention.

Likewise, we recommend developing and nurturing partnerships with foreign institutions to support visiting faculty exchanges, increase diversity and encourage a broader global outlook. Such arrangements will benefit all participants. Our faculty will enhance their cultural and professional skills, while the campus will be enlivened with different perspectives.

Other beneficial activities include helping more faculty compete for Fulbright scholarships and other top awards and bringing new faculty to campus with the help of programs such as the Postdoc Fellowship in Small Liberal Arts College (SLAC) Teaching and the Consortium for Faculty Diversity. These programs make it possible for faculty from underrepresented groups to teach at Wofford full time for several years, especially in the sciences, adding diversity to the faculty and extending our reputation to groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education.

Support for faculty engagement contributes to high levels of student engagement as well. In 2010, seniors at Wofford, a group of peer colleges and all schools participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement reported levels of academic engagement. As the chart shows, Wofford seniors reported the highest levels of engagement on each component of the variable, with Wofford student judgments about faculty-student interaction and a supportive environment outdistancing the rest. The faculty make the difference in measures such as these. With an increased investment in our faculty, we will ensure that Wofford remains attractive to teacher-scholars who represent the very best in their fields and encourage our students to be the very best.chart-Rec1-Engagement 

3. Develop a Center for the Arts and Creativity to support the arts and creative work in other disciplines that demonstrates our commitment to a Wofford education as a lifetime endeavor and supports programs that increase diversity and expand our scope by reaching prospective students, alumni, artists and the broader community. (ACADEMICS, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT) 

The Center for the Arts and Creativity will provide a focal point for the artistic and creative endeavors taking place across campus: a resource, a gathering place and an incubator for innovation. The center will underscore the importance of the arts and diversity in our community, attracting students and faculty who want to pursue their creative passions and informing new ways of thinking and experiencing for everyone.

The center should encourage collaboration among the arts, as well as between the arts on the one hand, and the sciences, social sciences and humanities on the other. As such, it will be more than simply another arts center—it will be a launching pad for creative endeavors of all kinds, serving both the curricular and co-curricular needs of the entire campus and the larger Spartanburg community.

4. Provide an academic space for expansion of the sciences and our Environmental Studies program. Replacing the Sam O. Black Science Annex, this space will underscore our historic strength in and commitment to the sciences and sustainability. (ACADEMICS) 

The Goodall Center, just seven miles from campus, is a critical part of the Environmental Studies program because it offers excellent learning opportunities in the lab and the field. However, a modern on-campus facility is also required to provide teaching space and technology designed to support intensive, collaborative, hands-on learning, advanced computing and the capacity to link students and instructors on campus to those at Goodall. In this new space, faculty will be able to explore new programming at crucial disciplinary intersections—the environment and entrepreneurism, for example—preparing our students to take leadership roles in a fast growing, competitive field. The space will replace the current Sam O. Black Science Annex, a building in desperate need of major repair and renovation.

5. Create a new Academic Commons by redesigning the library as the connecting point for student scholarship, learning resources and cutting-edge educational technology. Support advanced informational and educational technology and the professional personnel to facilitate use. (ACADEMICS, STUDENT AFFAIRS) 

To support the central role of the library in providing traditional services and assistance with new scholarship methods, the current building should be redesigned as the heart of a new Academic Commons. One new feature will be an educational technology center run by an academic technologist who understands the classroom experience.

This office will be responsible for teaching faculty and students how to use new technology, including an e-portfolio management system for students and faculty and a studio for digital fabrication and rapid prototyping technologies, which allows users to design and produce objects that can be used in the arts or manufacturing. Other spaces could include a writing lab, research help center, presentation practice room, coffee shop and art gallery.

 



Recommendation

TWO

Prepare Exemplary Leaders and Citizens:
The Vision of the Student Experience

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Prepare students to be exemplary leaders and citizens by integrating academic and co-curricular learning for first-year students; encouraging sophomores to live and engage collaboratively; promoting meaningful social engagement; supporting civic learning, civic engagement and collaborative partnerships; and doing more to integrate personal and professional development into a Wofford education.  

As a national residential liberal arts college, Wofford provides opportunities for students to learn lessons that go far beyond the acquisition of knowledge in the classroom. Along with rigorous thinking and expertise, the world needs leaders who understand the value of collaborative problem-solving, diversity and moral responsibility. Our liberal arts mission demands that we build on this foundation of academics, interpersonal skills and integrity so that students gain, in the words of Martha Nussbaum, “an understanding of oneself as part of a globally connected world.”1 

We believe Wofford can fulfill this mission most faithfully and distinctively through a residential college educational experience that fully integrates curricular and co-curricular activities. With this broad foundation of learning, students will have the tools and experience to become lifelong learners, leaders in whatever fields they choose and engaged citizens in their communities and in the world.

This approach will increase coherence between student time in classrooms and residence halls, playing fields and performances, various types of civic and campus engagement—connecting their four years in a more seamless way than the traditional residential college experience has supported.

The college took an important step toward a more distinctive residential experience when it created The Village, an apartment-style housing program that can accommodate the entire senior class. The complex includes the Michael S. Brown Village Center, which houses meeting spaces, The Space in the Mungo Center, a market and several classrooms. To encourage interaction, The Village has sidewalks, bike paths, grills and student suites that are designed for large groups of students and faculty to meet while enjoying a meal, brainstorming or holding mentoring sessions.

By creating The Village, Wofford began to depart from the compartmentalization that goes on in most of higher education—a departure that soon could represent the most distinctive dimension of a Wofford education. By placing the same emphasis on broad academic and community engagement that we place on individual achievement, we could ask our students to see themselves and their connections with others in a new way—a way that leads to a more informed, responsible, sustainable and interconnected world. Achieving this distinction will require a new kind of commitment from students, faculty and staff. In addition to The Village, important contributing projects are underway.

For example, this fall a new pilot project called CoursePlus will test innovative variations of the living and learning concept. These blended-learning courses, which will get students to think across the disciplines early in their Wofford careers, break out of the classroom to allow working and learning together in a variety of settings. The first round of courses combine humanities and Spanish to focus on social problems and civic learning; bring humanities into a residential community aimed at all aspects of the theater; embed philosophy with community action; and allow students to explore issues facing non-profit arts organizations that includes a 50-hour practicum. These pilot programs are only the beginning as we expand our repertoire into more subjects and areas of interest and take stock of the differences they make. chart-rec2-Service 

We know already that Wofford students are likely to favor community service and other forms of engagement. As the chart shows, young people enrolled in independent colleges and universities are more likely to volunteer for community service than their peers in the general population. We believe that first-year students will find that living-learning communities create the building blocks for their years at Wofford, and indeed, for a lifetime of learning and service. These communities will help students join the larger campus quickly and fully; encourage them to be responsible for their own accomplishments; and promote meaningful interaction across different backgrounds, interests and values. Co-curricular options will stimulate students to connect classroom learning with other programs such as community service and one-on-one partnerships with faculty, staff and peer mentors. 

As students enter their second year, residential communities organized around specific interests will encourage broader interaction with upper-class mentors and first-year students, among others. Students in each community will take responsibility for developing annual plans and activities, adding to a culture of participation and leadership.

Across all cohorts of students, a center for civic engagement will organize and amplify efforts to identify, coordinate and support civic learning and opportunities. This hub will ground Wofford’s commitment to citizen-leaders by providing structure and support for student-, faculty- and staff-led programming and by discovering and nurturing relationships across groups and community organizations.

A proposed facility called The Exchange will add a multifunctional space that addresses Wofford’s current needs for meeting space and alternative performance space for theater, film, music and dance. The Exchange will be an informal campus crossroads, a place for intellectual conversations, recreation and simply hanging out. It also has the potential to serve as a site for conferences and other large events, increasing our ability to reach more people on campus.

Finally, an expansion of the career-oriented The Space will help more students develop the personal and professional development skills and attributes desired by employers and graduate schools. Staff members in The Space currently interact with about half of the student body, representing 24 of our 25 majors over the past year to help students develop the outlooks and skills employers say they seek. In 2012, Hart Research Associates surveyed 318 employers about the kinds of learning students need to succeed in today’s economy. Identifying the capacities to be innovative and cut across majors as critical, the employers endorsed a blend of liberal education and applied learning.2  These findings underscore earlier research by Hart. In 2010, employers recommended that colleges do more to emphasize knowledge of human cultures and the natural world, intellectual and practical skills, personal and social responsibility, and integrative and applied learning.3  

These findings affirm that an integrated learning-living community will pay considerable dividends for students. In terms of educational value, research indicates that students who participate in such a community have higher retention rates, are more engaged with faculty and staff members, and have greater satisfaction with the overall college experience.4  By combining this higher level of engagement with Wofford’s tradition of integrating athletics, finance, accounting and other related areas, and career preparation into a liberal arts framework—and add global engagement opportunities through international programs, international internships and service projects—we get a model of education that is as powerful as it is unique. In the long term, we expect to see our students make even more of a difference to the world and return again and again to campus as committed alumni. 

This recommendation has four parts:

1. Create distinctive living/learning communities for first-year students based on academic or co-curricular interests, extending the classroom and pursuit of knowledge into residential spaces. Increase the residence life staff to support these communities. This experience will provide advantages that complement the senior living experience The Village provides. (ACADEMICS, RESIDENCE LIFE, STUDENT AFFAIRS)

We recommend that all first-year students participate in residential communities that are organized around an academic or co-curricular theme such as sustainability, the arts, languages, sciences or global issues. Ideally these communities will be located in facilities that are built for community-based living. In the near term, they can be implemented by re-purposing existing residential space.

The members of each community will collaborate to design a program of learning and activity related to the theme. This collaboration will help the students learn to work together as members of a residential team. Meanwhile, a cadre of faculty, staff and upper-class peer mentors will support each community. This support team will supplement the theme-based programming with activities that focus on transition to college, wellness and other topics that are appropriate for first-year students.

To provide the highest quality living/learning experience, it will be essential to bring all first-year residential facilities to a standard of quality that creates opportunities for interaction and a robust community life. In particular, it is necessary to address the condition of Marsh Hall as we plan for and implement an innovative first-year experience. 

Finally, a marketing campaign should accompany this program to situate it within other residential life options at Wofford and explain its gains to wider audiences. 

2. Create sophomore interest-based residential communities where second-year students live and work collaboratively to create and implement programs of civic and campus engagement. (ACADEMICS, RESIDENCE LIFE, STUDENT AFFAIRS)

Dave Pittman We recommend establishing interest-based residential communities as the residential option for sophomores. The students will select the interest around which their community is organized. Options might extend the activities of a variety of student groups and chartered organizations.

Each community will be made up of 10 to 20 students in a facility that includes areas for eating, seminars and group gatherings. To qualify to live in a community, the members will plan and implement a program of civic engagement, campus engagement or leadership development and maintain academic excellence among the members. Coupled with accountability, these programs will help instill the culture of responsibility we envision. Each community will execute its plan with the help of one or two of the residence life staff members who manage the interest communities program.

Another key element is a program for social engagement that promotes interactions across the communities and with other students. Helpful mechanisms could include a requirement for each community to sponsor campus engagement events for all students, an open-door policy to promote learning and interactions among communities and lunch-and-learn events within each community.

Interest communities can strengthen Greek life by emphasizing the leadership, academic excellence, and campus and civic engagement aspects of Greek organizations. At the same time, the communities will provide equitable space for students who are not affiliated with Greek organizations by reducing the disparity between Greek-affiliated and non-Greek students, resulting in a more unified student experience.

One goal is to identify future mentors who might support future second-year residents. As juniors and seniors, we expect that these highly engaged students will contribute essential support while they further develop their own leadership skills.

3. Expand “The Space,” home to the college’s career and professional development services, and charge it to integrate enhanced personal and professional development opportunities into all aspects of a Wofford education. (ACADEMICS, STUDENT AFFAIRS)  

The only resource of its kind at a liberal arts college, The Space gives students a unique advantage by helping them explore, prepare for and launch professional opportunities, affirming needs employers have identified for workers with broad liberal arts skills as well as applied knowledge and practical experience. Now it is time to expand The Space with staff and resources and to enhance collaborative efforts between The Space and our new living/learning communities, The Center for Global and Community Engagement, The Center for Innovation and Learning, international programs and other Wofford entities. One aim is to ensure that every student leaves Wofford with a professional resume, cover letter, and interview and job search skills.

It is ideal for this expansion to lead to all Wofford students being assigned a career coach to help manage the professional development process. This practice would enable a more seamless integration of personal and professional development into all four years of a Wofford education. The Space also could develop an annual conference to use residential living/learning communities and civic engagement activities to foster student personal, academic and professional development.

All these efforts are designed to give students an excellent liberal arts education that is well integrated with a top residential experience and help them prepare for interesting, productive lives and successful careers.

4. Create The Wofford Exchange, a multifunctional civic learning, sustainability and engagement hub that actively encourages the exchange of ideas, conversation and support during the day and hosts student social functions at night. Locate appropriate academic and student services there and charge the staff to engage students in lead roles. (ACADEMICS, STUDENT AFFAIRS)

Anne Rodrick Through its design, this space should exemplify community in its ethos, programming, leadership and management, and architecture. It should be located centrally on the campus and be welcoming to all. It could serve as a civic engagement hub, an important bridge between curricular and co-curricular programs by supporting civic learning in and out of the classroom; the focal point of sustainability efforts for the college; a clearinghouse for student, faculty and staff projects; a place to organize and streamline the use of resources on campus; and a place to facilitate relationships among The Space, the Center for Innovation and Learning and other centers on campus. The Exchange will make a prominent contribution to not only the distinctiveness of the academic experience we offer, but also help Wofford advance the core values of a liberal arts education.

The Exchange should have the resources to support projects that deepen understanding of civic responsibility and sustainability on campus and in our larger community, including the Arcadia neighborhood and other populations. Collaborative partnerships will be another focus. Working with The MAC Foundation’s “Thinking Like a River” initiative, the High-Impact Curriculum Fellows program and others, the center will meet needs in the Spartanburg educational community, deepen our relationship with the Northside initiative—a partnership that addresses the problems of poverty and redevelopment “next door”—and launch other alliances to benefit generations of students, faculty and staff.

The Exchange also will gather and manage data about civic engagement and civic learning across the campus. It might, for example, track and measure the effectiveness of Greek organization philanthropic projects, direct service projects and advocacy initiatives. These data will enhance our capacity to attract national and international funding and do even more to develop this emphasis in the future. A director will support the center’s activities, including first-year and sophomore projects related to residential learning communities, and help consolidate and integrate current community engagement assets.

The Exchange should be a place for student and faculty engagement and may feature a café or pub—possibly showcasing student bands. Other spaces might be geared to fitness or outdoor activities, perhaps a trade bookstore, pop-up retail shops or a farmer’s market and community garden. One important practical function is to locate Student Affairs, diversity initiatives, career services/The Space, international programs and other co-curricular offices in one convenient facility.

To meet these purposes, we recommend that Wofford work with an architect to create an open, versatile, functional, inviting facility that can be configured to meet special needs. We imagine, for example, a kitchen that can support a myriad of activities and events.


1- Martha Nussbum, Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education (Harvard University Press, 1997).
2- “It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success” (April 10, 2013), Hart Research Associates, Washington, D.C.
3- “Raising the Bar: Employers’ Views on College Learning in the Wake of the Economic Downturn” (2010), Hart Research Associates, Washington, D.C.
4- Pascarella, E.T and Terenzini, P.T., How College Affects Students: A Third Decade of Research, Jossey-Bass (2005); Tinto, Vincent, Completing College: Rethinking Institutional Action, University of Chicago Press, 2012.

 



Recommendation

THREE

Recruit and Retain Talented Students:
The Vision of Enrollment

3-talent

Recruit and retain superior, talented and inquisitive students who are diverse geographically, in gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and more, while ensuring our historic commitment to providing access to the extraordinary Wofford educational experience.  

Just as technology is changing the way we communicate, social and cultural forces are reshaping our communities and the way in which we live. Higher education is already feeling the impact of this shift. Ensuing years will bring more high school graduates from diverse backgrounds, especially Hispanic, Asians/ Pacific Islanders and first-generation college students to our doors. It is projected that 45 percent of the nation’s public high school graduates will be non-white by 2019-20, compared to 38 percent in the class of 2009.5 

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article on these changing demographics cites trends from across the country showing Hispanic children outnumbering whites and blacks in younger age groups. In terms of economic diversity, these families with younger children also have lower incomes than the national median. For example, fewer young children are from the counties with the highest incomes and most educated residents—counties that up to this point have supplied many high school graduates to colleges. As the article points out, these trends put some colleges in a precarious position, especially those with enrollments that are almost entirely white and have not taken measures to diversify their campuses.6  

Regardless of race, we must factor in declining family incomes and greater cost consciousness among families. While family incomes increased, in real terms, in the 1980s and ’90s (with the most significant income gains skewed toward the top of the income distribution), families in all income groups saw their real incomes fall between 2000 and 2010. A recent annual survey of first-year students conducted at UCLA shows the dramatically rising impact of financial aid on the college decision process. According to the report, “The percentage of students who indicated financial aid was a ‘very important’ factor in their selection process was at its highest point in the 42 years since the question was first asked: Nearly half (48.7 percent) reported that a financial aid offer was a ‘very important’ factor in their decision to enroll at their current campus, up from 33.7 percent in 2004.” For first-generation students, financial aid was even more critical in their choice of colleges—60 percent reported that being offered financial aid was a "very important" consideration in their enrollment decision.7 

Thus, to build on past progress and succeed in today’s environment, we are developing a new strategic enrollment plan to reach the most talented students from diverse backgrounds. For greater diversity, we need to offer more financial aid supported by innovative funding programs. As more entering students come from a wider range of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, other resources will be needed to help these students make a smooth transition to college, succeed academically and cover expenditures related to international programs and other programs that carry cost. 

Creating a more diverse and inclusive campus will make the campus a more vibrant place in which to live, work and think together as we continue to engage a diversity of ideas. For many of our students, the Wofford community will be their first meaningful exposure to the larger global community that awaits them. Studies have shown positive long-term effects of increased diversity on students related to learning, democratic disposition and job skills.8 

This recommendation has three parts:

1. Execute a Strategic Enrollment Plan with focus on improving academic quality, diversity and retention with an emphasis on endowed scholarships to ensure that Wofford can enroll a class defined by excellence. (ADMISSION/FINANCIAL AID, MARKETING/COMMUNICATIONS)  

Wofford’s Strategic Enrollment Plan features seven key objectives: increase the number of total applications with a goal to have 3,000 applications in 2019; improve academic quality, including requiring incoming students in 2019 to boast at least a 3.65 GPA, have a 1300 SAT/25-30 ACT score, and have at least half graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class; increase geographic diversity, including increasing the percentage of out-of-state students to 55 percent by 2019; increase minority enrollment with the goal of increasing diversity at Wofford to exceed 20 percent by 2019; increase international enrollment by growing the international population to 4 percent of total by 2019; increase socioeconomic diversity by increasing the Pell-eligible population to 20 percent by 2019; and improve retention by improving first-year student retention to 93 percent and the graduation rate to 85 percent. The plan includes financial aid and marketing tactics to support the seven key enrollment objectives.

2. Seek a fully funded scholarship program. (ADMISSION/FINANCIAL AID, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT)  

Competition among colleges and universities for the world’s most talented students is fierce. Seeking a fully funded scholarship program where every student scholarship is generated off an institutional endowment allows the college to be more competitive and selective in its recruitment practices. A fully funded scholarship program would also serve as a key college differentiator, allowing Wofford to protect and enhance program dollars while attracting the best and brightest among its ranks.

3. Support, increase and enhance a more diverse and inclusive campus so that Wofford prepares students for citizenship and full, rewarding lives in the world they will encounter after graduation. (STUDENT AFFAIRS, ADMISSION/FINANCIAL AID)  

Karen Goodchild

From our own experience, we know that one of the most profound expressions of inclusiveness is for students from diverse backgrounds so see and interact with powerful role models on campus. As Wofford works to boost diversity among faculty and staff, we recommend increasing our attention to the importance of potential role models and their capacity to make a difference for many students. We also know that one mark of an inclusive campus is the capacity to help students thrive once they are admitted. Recent experience suggests that this work has begun at Wofford, and there is more to be done. We recommend that faculty and staff work together to increase support for students who need it. 

As we welcome students from other cultures, we also must be even more mindful of norms and practices they uphold. In our academic and residential programs, we must offer options that make all of our students feel welcome, safe and at home. 

We also are aware that various opportunities for tuition support might be available to students from diverse nationalities and backgrounds. Wofford should seek these out and take care to match students with potential support when those options exist. 

Wofford should explore affiliating with the Posse Foundation, a group that identifies students in public high school with extraordinary potential for academic leadership who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. The college also should renew our commitment to the Rwanda Presidential Scholarship Program, which provides four-year, undergraduate scholarships to a select group of Rwanda’s best and brightest students.


5- Knocking at the College Door 2012
6- Lipka, Sara, “Demographic Data Let Colleges Peer Into the Future” (January 19, 2014), Chronicle of Higher Education.
7- CIRP Freshman Survey, UCLA's annual survey of the nation's entering students at four-year colleges and universities, part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), administered nationally by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, http://www.heri.ucla.edu/pr-display.php?prQry=126
8- http://www.heri.ucla.edu/PDFs/surveyAdmin/dle/Hurtado%20article%20in%20Diversity%20and%20Democracy%20vol12no1.pdf 



Recommendation

FOUR

Strengthen the Community:
The Vision of the Wofford Experience

4-community

Improve the strength of our community by increasing diversity among the faculty and staff; encouraging more transparent internal communication; strengthening shared governance; and renewing our commitment to active community life.  

While faculty and staff diversity at Wofford certainly has increased over the years, we need to make a greater commitment to ensure that our community reflects a plurality of people, viewpoints and ideas that is so important in a 21st-century liberal arts education. Our students will benefit greatly from a learning-living environment that brings them into closer contact with faculty and staff of different cultures, ethnicities, races, religions, sexual orientations, genders, ages, national origins, socioeconomic backgrounds and physical abilities. If we agree that education includes encounters with people and experiences that push us beyond our levels of comfort and knowledge, we must commit to increasing diversity. At the same time, we must find effective ways to bring this diverse and engaged community closer together. Expanding the responsibilities and resources of an office of diversity initiatives to include campus-wide activities, which will provide a higher level of support for faculty and staff.

Transparent and systematic processes, policies and practices will go a long way in creating more trust and openness in the community, and we believe that faculty should be more involved with governance through consultation and representation. According to Judith Areen, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center who does research in this area, shared governance systems should rely on “consultation and mutual respect” between faculty, administrators and governing boards.9 When faculty are at the table with administrators and trustees, “it leads to an expanded knowledge base, open communication and collective wisdom.”10 This representative style of collaboration becomes even more important as faculty respond to this plan and help to fulfill its promise.

Also, in the face of such growing factors as increased regulation and new philanthropic practices, driven in part by this new era of venture capitalists and other types of innovative, hands-on supporters, our shared governance systems need to be more nimble and responsive than ever. Whereas in the past most donors had long relationships with a college and naturally shared its goals, today’s philanthropists might support a college not because they attended it, but because they recognize its potential to make a difference in a critical area. Focused on financial strength, these donors have a strong desire to use the entrepreneurial approaches that led to their successes in business to create programs with clear-cut goals. In this environment, faculty and administrators need to work closely with trustees and philanthropists to ensure that everyone embraces the same aims and commitments. 

Transparency also involves the orientation and evaluation processes used by everyone—faculty chairs, supervisors, staff and students—to create clear expectations and reviews regarding one’s work performance. As we welcome new faculty and staff and develop new programs and activities, a well-developed system of internal communications will be critical to keep up-to-date with information and news about the community.

Along with more effective internal communications and workflow strategies, physical spaces also are needed to encourage the flow of ideas across campus. A multi-use facility would allow a place for formal and informal get-togethers and provide work areas for emeritus faculty. 

A fellows program will serve as a distinctive model for thinking beyond the classroom as a means to furthering the education of our recent graduates and preparing the next generation of distinguished leaders. We foresee fellows working in any and all offices and academic departments where their service would be mutually beneficial. They would experience the mentorship of co-workers, who by their very nature as Wofford faculty and staff are invested in the education of young leaders.

This recommendation has six parts: 

1. Call on the faculty to enhance their voice in shared governance by developing a more systematic form of consultation and representation. (FACULTY/STAFF)  

Wofford requires a well-developed form of faculty governance if we are to continue to manage the college well and achieve the goals outlined in this plan. When the college was smaller, the faculty could make an effective contribution by operating as a “committee of the whole.” But now that the faculty is larger, a structure is needed that allows for more systematic interaction among the members of the faculty and between the administration and faculty, with leadership in place to increase engagement and exchange. 

Faculty should shape the form of shared governance Wofford adopts, and a strong first step involves looking at different models at peer institutions. Recommended practices include many of the values and outlooks this plan espouses—upholding Wofford’s defining characteristics and traditions, promoting a shared vision and goals, strengthening leadership across the faculty, increasing transparency and communication, and voicing ideas and principles to guide Wofford’s development. Understanding that sustained, systematic fundraising will follow this plan, helping to contribute to its success is another important faculty role.

We also must consider the critical role the faculty and others across the community have played in developing this strategic plan and imagine how to extend that sense of spirit and engagement to a permanent form of governance. Along with the recommendations in this document, the college is developing plans for enrollment, financial aid, communications and the physical campus. To succeed, each plan needs strong faculty representation in the implementation stages. Faculty should consider how a system of governance might contribute to that collective success.

2. Increase and support diversity throughout the Wofford community by creating helpful policies and practices to include diversity education and adequate staffing, space and budget to facilitate a campus-wide effort. Charge a leader to provide high quality support as populations require. (ACADEMICS, STUDENT AFFAIRS, FACULTY/STAFF, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT)  

Amy Lancaster

Increasing the staffing, space allocation, budgetary resources and profile of Wofford’s diversity initiatives will enhance the college’s efforts toward increasing inclusiveness and intercultural competency. Furthermore, such a space will foster increased collaboration among the staff of Wofford’s Offices of International Programs, Diversity Initiatives and Student Affairs as their responsibilities, staffing and budget grow to meet future needs. This designated location should enhance our potential co-curricular offerings for current international students and also serve students returning to Wofford’s campus after studying abroad.

Investing more in diversity initiatives for faculty and staff also will enhance Wofford’s ethos of inclusion. Because our population changes every year, and because the contours of diversity issues shift over time, on-going professional development needs to be available. Consistent training and mentoring for faculty and staff—helping us learn how to help students—could be facilitated by Wofford’s membership in the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), for example. 

3. Develop the resources to strengthen new faculty orientation programs, faculty development initiatives and faculty evaluation efforts with support enhancements for individual faculty members and faculty leaders. (FACULTY/STAFF)  

We recommend that the faculty and Provost review processes, procedures and criteria for faculty evaluation, reappointment, tenure and post-tenure performance, amending guidelines and expectations to conform to best practices that are consistent across departments and academic areas. These procedures and criteria should rely on norms for institutions like our own that place a heavy emphasis on teaching.

In order to help one another build a healthier culture based on trust, collaboration and collegiality, assessment should work in both directions. Faculty and staff should be assisted in developing the skills and experience needed to effectively evaluate their chair and/or supervisor as well. We should continue to analyze our emphasis on student evaluations of teaching in order to reach even better levels of effectiveness in the use of student feedback.

4. Create and enhance transparent internal communication practices to relate the budget to the mission and strategic goals, clarify administrative and human resources practices, and inform the community of accolades and other important news and events. (FACULTY/STAFF, MARKETING/COMMUNICATIONS)  

Channeling the flow of communication across campus has become even more important in this age of information overload. An organized, consistent approach to internal communications will allow for more transparency with such activities as budgeting and reporting responsibilities for employees, and as a guide to help new employees and others locate resources of all kinds. A communications guide, produced by a communications director and a staff that could include recent graduate fellows, is an excellent tool to organize and keep such information updated. A regular newsletter, for example, will keep faculty and staff abreast of announcements, accolades and information pertaining to the campus community. 

5. Enhance collaboration and interaction among alumni, faculty, emeritus faculty, staff and visiting speakers by providing space and support. (FACULTY/STAFF, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT)  

To increase collaboration and productive interaction across campus, faculty and staff need a place—and the time—to do so. A multi-use facility, such as the Wofford Exchange mentioned in Recommendation Two, would serve as a crucible for informal get-togethers where individuals from across campus can convene and get to know each other. The facility could provide work areas for emeritus faculty, who are critical to the long-term continued success of the institution. Of course, appropriate staff must be part of the planning and development of such a project. With faculty and staff using it on weekdays, visiting lecturers on weeknights and alums on weekends, the facility would require a professional staff to keep things running smoothly. 

To do more to understand the far-reaching issues that offer new opportunities and challenges, we recommend that the college establish a team, with representatives from across the campus, to continually monitor cross-cutting forces like globalism, diversity and sustainability; seek out information about how these forces might influence Wofford; and recommend ways to avoid loss and create advantage. This active team should interact directly with the president and draw on staff support as needed. When opportunities emerge that might lead to new resources—from entrepreneurial activity, foundations or donors, for example—the team might recommend how the college can draw on these sources to improve programs or facilities. Over time, this team should become a critical element of Wofford’s effort to sustain competitiveness and deepen its innovative approach to top-quality residential liberal arts education. 

Finally we recommend a new group—with representatives from across the campus—to investigate new revenue sources to advance our long-term objectives and recommend action on an ongoing basis. With proper resources, this group should develop and sustain deep knowledge of Wofford’s programmatic strengths and aspirations, along with needs and revenue-producing opportunities in the marketplace. From this foundation we can promote our vision, the excellence of our academic program and also increase revenue. This group should be in close touch with the team charged to monitor and take advantage of emerging forces.

6. Create a fellows program for recent graduates to work in departments or offices, live on campus as mentors and participate in leadership seminars to make more of this experience. This program will create the near-age mentoring that universities achieve with graduate students without relinquishing our undergraduate definition. (FACULTY/STAFF, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT)  

An endowed two-year program for recent graduates, the fellows program will expand the scope of the educational experience by focusing on the continuing development of our most talented students as individuals. Work could include support staff in academic departments and administrative offices, near-age mentors for our students and participants in the Aspen Institute/Liberty Fellowship-style leadership seminars.


9- UP CLOSE | The challenge of ‘shared governance’ Gavan Gideon, Thursday, April 12, 2012.
10- A Conflict of Cultures: Governance at Liberal Arts Colleges by Larry D. Shinn, Change, January/February 2004.
 



Recommendation

FIVE

Enhance the College:
The Vision of the Sustainable Physical Campus

5-campus

Support Wofford’s vision with flexible, thoughtful and sustainable facilities and spaces that reflect the ongoing and future needs of the college. 

The vision of Wofford College as a premier, innovative and distinctive national liberal arts college defined by excellence, engagement and transformation depends in large part on its physical campus. Many of the recommendations made within Wofford’s vision require either new, forward-thinking facilities or modifications to existing structures. In all areas, Wofford seeks to promote sustainability and energy efficiency, including in construction, execution and community utilization, so the college may enhance and promote its sustainability efforts.

This recommendation has seven parts:

1. Develop the Center for Arts and Creativity (in conjunction with Recommendation One). (ACADEMICS, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT) 

Recommendation One calls for the development of a Center for the Arts and Creativity to support the arts and creative work in other disciplines that demonstrates our commitment to a Wofford education as a lifetime endeavor and supports programs that increase diversity and expand our scope by reaching prospective students, alumni, artists and the broader community.

The Center for the Arts and Creativity will provide a focal point for the artistic and creative endeavors taking place across campus: a resource, a gathering place and an incubator for innovation. The center will underscore the importance of the arts and diversity in our community, attracting students and faculty who want to pursue their creative passions and informing new ways of thinking and experiencing for everyone. 

The center should encourage collaboration among the arts, as well as between the arts on the one hand, and the sciences, social sciences and humanities on the other. As such, it will be more than simply another arts center—it will be a launching pad for creative endeavors of all kinds, serving both the curricular and co-curricular needs of the entire campus and the larger Spartanburg community.

2. Provide an academic space for the expansion of the sciences and our Environmental Studies program to replace the existing Black Science Annex (in conjunction with Recommendation One). (ACADEMICS) 

This space will underscore Wofford’s historic strength and commitment to the sciences. The Goodall Environmental Studies Center, just seven miles from campus, is a critical part of the Environmental Studies program because it offers excellent learning opportunities in the lab and the field. However, a modern on-campus facility also is required to provide teaching space and technology designed to support intensive, collaborative, hands-on learning, advanced computing and the capacity to link students and instructors on campus to those at Goodall. In this new space, faculty will be able to explore new programming at crucial disciplinary intersections—the environment and entrepreneurism, for example—preparing our students to take leadership roles in a fast growing, competitive field. The space will replace the current Sam O. Black Science Annex, a building in desperate need of major repair and renovation. 

3. Develop an arena for intercollegiate athletics. (STUDENT AFFAIRS, ATHLETICS, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT) 

Athletics is woven into all aspects of the world at Wofford—academically, socially and as a primary marketing differentiator. Wofford’s strategic vision calls for enhanced collaboration and strategy between Athletics and the Office of Marketing and Communications, the Office of Admission and the Office of Alumni and Development. In addition, the strategic vision calls for investment in an athletic arena in the heart of campus. This new facility has the opportunity to benefit not only the intercollegiate athletic experience, but also the intramural and student life experience through an addition of space and resources by repurposing Benjamin Johnson Arena and integrating it into the Campus Life building.

4. Address the condition of Marsh Hall. (ACADEMICS, RESIDENCE LIFE) 

The Charles F. Marsh Residence Hall, currently housing first-year residents, has been home to Wofford students for 45 years. Having deteriorated in quality over the course of these many decades, the residence hall now sits in need of repair and major updating to bring it to appropriate 21st century standards. In conjunction with the living/learning communities as detailed in Recommendation Two, it will be necessary to address the condition of Marsh Hall so it has the ability to afford future students with the highest quality living/learning experiences. This new hall will bring this first-year facility to a standard of quality that creates opportunities for interaction and a robust community life.

5. Explore and develop a Greek Village and Interest Housing to replace the current Fraternity Row. (ACADEMICS, RESIDENCE LIFE, STUDENT AFFAIRS) 

Most Wofford students have a variety of interests and affiliate with multiple social and academic groups while living on campus. Organized student interest housing will provide more opportunities for students to develop leadership skills by learning how to work together as a residential team. While acknowledging the historical centrality of Greek life to the student experience at Wofford and the importance of a continued robust presence of Greek life at Wofford, we also recognize that a model that incorporates equitable space and expectations of academic excellence, campus involvement, civic engagement and leadership development for both Greek and non-Greek organizations would greatly enhance the quality and diversity of opportunities for all students to affiliate with multiple groups of interest. A new residential Greek housing facility has the potential to strengthen the Wofford Greek life program by refocusing the emphasis of Greek organizations on the national standards of academic success, service and philanthropy within our campus and community.

6. Feature an Academic Commons within the library (in conjunction with Recommendation One). (ACADEMICS, STUDENT AFFAIRS) 

As discussed in Recommendation One, creating a new Academic Commons by redesigning the library as the connecting point for student scholarship, learning resources and cutting-edge educational technology is key to Wofford’s collaborative future. The Academic Commons would support advanced informational and educational technology and would require professional personnel to deliberately facilitate its use.
To support the central role of the library in providing traditional services and assistance with new scholarship methods, the current building should be redesigned as the heart of a new Academic Commons. One new feature will be an educational technology center run by an academic technologist who understands the classroom experience. This office will be responsible for teaching faculty and students how to use new technology, including an e-portfolio management system for students and faculty and a studio for digital fabrication and rapid prototyping technologies, which allows users to design and produce objects that can be used in the arts or manufacturing. Other spaces could include a writing lab, research help center, presentation practice room, coffee shop and art gallery. 

7. Develop The Wofford Exchange in the Campus Life Building (in conjunction with Recommendation Two). (ACADEMICS, STUDENT AFFAIRS)

As discussed within Recommendation Two, this multifunctional civic learning, sustainability and engagement hub will actively encourage the exchange of ideas, conversation and support during the day and host student social functions at night. The college will be encouraged to locate appropriate academic and student services there and charge the staff to engage students in lead roles.

Through its design, this space should exemplify community in its ethos, programming, leadership and management, and architecture. It should be located centrally on the campus and be welcoming to all. It could serve as a civic engagement hub, an important bridge between curricular and co-curricular programs by supporting civic learning in and out of the classroom; the focal point of sustainability efforts for the college; a clearinghouse for student, faculty and staff projects; a place to organize and streamline the use of resources on campus; and a place to facilitate relationships among The Space, the Center for Innovation and Learning and other centers on campus. The Exchange will make a prominent contribution to not only the distinctiveness of the academic experience we offer, but also help Wofford advance the core values of a liberal arts education.
 

 



Make it

HAPPEN

Supporting the Vision of Wofford College

6-yes

Building on our liberal arts tradition in the 21st century requires a renewed focus on adapting pedagogies to new generations of students while staying abreast of rapid social and technological changes. There is much at stake. As President Samhat said in his 2014 inaugural address, “Our kind of education is designed to address in a most direct manner the vast majority of questions that shape the nature of our society and the world in which we live, the kinds of questions that are foundational to the human experience, and from which all of our endeavors have their source.” 

Today’s liberal arts colleges are faced with several challenges. Most of them involve a finite set of resources. But there is also a growing pre-professional outlook on the part of students and families, and an organized effort by the federal government to reduce higher education to cost and measurable outputs (i.e., jobs and income). To counteract these tendencies, we must be clear about our mission and the importance of students interacting with the wider world, where they must become more at home among different cultures, languages and methodologies. As we integrate living and learning experiences closer together, we also must help our students connect with both local and global communities, giving them an opportunity to develop as individuals and the wherewithal to be strong leaders. Just as important, we must communicate this message to our alumni and friends so they will become more involved in efforts to support our mission.

Building on our liberal arts tradition in the 21st century requires a renewed focus on adapting pedagogies to new generations of students while staying abreast of rapid social and technological changes. There is much at stake. As President Samhat said in his 2014 inaugural address, “Our kind of education is designed to address in a most direct manner the vast majority of questions that shape the nature of our society and the world in which we live, the kinds of questions that are foundational to the human experience, and from which all of our endeavors have their source.” 

Today’s liberal arts colleges are faced with several challenges. Most of them involve a finite set of resources. But there is also a growing pre-professional outlook on the part of students and families, and an organized effort by the federal government to reduce higher education to cost and measurable outputs (i.e., jobs and income). To counteract these tendencies, we must be clear about our mission and the importance of students interacting with the wider world, where they must become more at home among different cultures, languages and methodologies. As we integrate living and learning experiences closer together, we also must help our students connect with both local and global communities, giving them an opportunity to develop as individuals and the wherewithal to be strong leaders. Just as important, we must communicate this message to our alumni and friends so they will become more involved in efforts to support our mission. 

Village Thumb To sustain Wofford in this environment, new streams of revenue will need to be considered beyond the traditional sources of tuition, endowment and philanthropy. As Standard and Poor’s noted in July 2014,11  many private colleges are finding it difficult to balance affordability and financial health. Increasingly, private colleges are seeking new revenue streams that include partnerships with the private sector, summer classes, community-oriented programs that make use of facilities during the summer, and online learning where appropriate. They find that faculty cooperation and governance are important as changes are made that affect curriculum and workloads.

Wofford is fortunate to have some entrepreneurial activity underway. In 2014, The Space to Launch, Wofford's entrepreneurship program, worked with 33 student businesses to offer instruction in business plans, incorporation, design thinking, financial management and marketing. This interest demonstrates that Wofford students are no longer content to start their businesses or non-profit endeavors after graduation. They want to put their passions to use early, and Wofford is guiding them when they need it most. This program can be a powerful model for other efforts and plans.

As we develop new programs, we will continue to support signature traditions such as our athletics programs and system of Greek life, finding new ways to engage them with the on-campus and broader communities. Athletics has played an important role in increasing diversity, and our successes on the field and the court correspond with our successes in the classroom—all the more so since student-athletes enroll here knowing that they will be expected to perform athletically and academically at the highest levels. Athletics also gives Wofford unprecedented national visibility as its sports teams compete successfully from coast to coast, providing a memorable part of a college experience for both student-athletes and spectators, and creating an intense bond for alumni who are former student-athletes. Intramural athletics are vitally important to our signature tradition of athletic participation. Continuing to support Division I college athletics and intramural athletics includes engaging top staff, providing excellent opportunities for student-athletes, and supporting the program with financial resources. Of particular concern is the need to create quality facilities for intramural activity and to enhance facilities for intercollegiate purposes. 

Greek life has been a part of Wofford for more than 100 years and will continue to be part of our fabric as we develop. More than 50 percent of our students choose to be involved in sororities and fraternities, and a high percentage of them receive top academic awards and hold leadership positions in student organizations. As Greek life at Wofford continues to evolve, we will increase the quality of our facilities and explore new residential and social options for the program. 

Finally, in the upcoming years, a campus master plan is essential to providing a “living blueprint” that supports the vision of these goals and recommendations, including the preservation of valuable and historic spaces and the sustainability of future ones. This plan also should increase the friendliness of the campus as it helps new residents and visitors identify buildings, clarify borders and locate the resources we have to offer.

This recommendation has three parts:

1. Execute a comprehensive funding campaign with emphasis on endowed scholarships. (ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING/COMMUNICATIONS) 

We recommend immediate planning for a comprehensive development campaign to identify and secure the resources necessary to realize the goals of this strategic vision and secure the future of Wofford College. While this campaign will be multifaceted, an emphasis on endowed scholarships is critical to the sustainable longevity of the implementation of the vision and the mission of the college. In conjunction with the Office of Alumni and Development and with this foundation, Wofford can promote its vision and its excellent academic program and increase revenue. This campaign planning and execution effort should be in close touch with the team charged to identify and suggest strategies to take advantage of emerging forces in the higher education sector.

2. Develop, fund and execute a comprehensive marketing and communications campaign. (MARKETING/COMMUNICATIONS, STUDENT AFFAIRS, ATHLETICS, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT)  

Wofford’s language and practices should reflect its deep commitment to liberal arts learning and explain the college’s goals of reach, size, scope and distinctiveness to a much broader national audience. A creative, comprehensive, measureable and strategic college-wide marketing and communications plan will be developed, focusing on Wofford’s mission and the primary marketing value propositions defined within the college’s vision. The goal of the marketing and communications plan will be to enhance Wofford’s brand recognition regionally, then nationally, through creativity, consistency and repetition. 

3. Develop and execute a facilities master plan including preliminary ideas for facilities called for in this strategic plan, projections for future development, better pathways and signs, and boundaries that are definitive and clear. (ACADEMICS, STUDENT AFFAIRS, RESIDENCE LIFE, ATHLETICS, ALUMNI/DEVELOPMENT)

In conjunction with facilities needs listed within Recommendation Five, Wofford’s master plan will bring together the physical and practical needs of the campus, the vision as described within this document and the predictions of the future.
 

Next Steps

Throughout the strategic visioning process, three powerful forces were at work—commitment to the college and its bright future; engagement in the many intense conversations, activities, and investigations that shaped the ideas the plan contains; and excitement about the new opportunities these ideas will bring when they are implemented. This vision is produced to encourage even more discussion and critique in the community and among members of the Board of Trustees. 

Approval of the plan in October 2014 will set in motion a comprehensive process of implementation, including campus groups charged to take forward some of the specific ideas, study groups charged to work with experts to continue to develop others, and other important discussion of measurable outcomes, useful metrics and the like.

Using representative groups, we will continue to think together about the most progressive exciting future we can imagine for Wofford in light of the opportunities and challenges we expect to encounter. Just as one very special time of creative collaboration draws to a close, another begins. 

Conclusion

In a recent and provocative article in the New Republic, former Yale professor William Deresiewicz argues that college students would be better off avoiding the Ivy Leagues and instead should seek out liberal arts colleges and public universities.12   He writes: “If there is anywhere that college is still college—anywhere that teaching and the humanities are still accorded pride of place—it is the liberal arts college. Such places are small, which is not for everyone, and they’re often fairly isolated, which is also not for everyone…. Instead of trying to compete with Harvard and Yale, these schools have retained their allegiance to real educational values.”
Later in the essay, Deresiewicz touches on the essence of what a college education should be about: teaching students how to think, and more importantly, “establishing communication between the mind and the heart, the mind and experience” to help students discover their uniqueness, their soul. In his words, colleges do this by providing a place for “books, ideas, works of art and thought, the pressure of the minds around you that are looking for their own answers in their own ways.”

Wofford College is committed to extending the spirit of engagement and collaboration that came together in this vision, seeking resources to support the ideas in the vision, measuring outcomes and sharing findings. We also are pleased that this vision will lead us further in the direction of what President Samhat referred to in his 2014 inaugural address: “breadth and depth of learning, and formation of character and community, contributing to our students’ capacity to embrace challenge and change without fear or hesitation.” By embracing a small student population for one-on-one learning, integrating residential and extra-curricular into the learning experience, and celebrating diversity, financial and environmental sustainability, creativity and community involvement, Wofford will provide the ingredients necessary to provide a true liberal arts starter kit that helps students be lifelong learners and leaders in whatever field or endeavor they pursue.

Strategic Plan Working Group Members

21st Century Learning Agenda at Wofford
Caleb A. Arrington, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Co-Chair
Karen H. Goodchild, Chair & Associate Professor of Art and Art History, Co-Chair
Mark S. Byrnes, Associate Professor of History
Ryan A. Johnson, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Business and Finance
Amy E. Lancaster, Assistant Dean of International Programs
G. Mackay Salley, Chair & Associate Professor of Physics
Kaye S. Savage, Associate Professor & Director of Environmental Studies
David S. Wood, Senior Vice President for Development
Timothy E. Brown, Access Services & Research Librarian
Lisa P. Barnett, Assistant to the Office of the Provost
Joella F. Utley, Board of Trustees Member
J. E. Reeves Jr., Board of Trustees Member

Developing Leaders for the 21st Century
Scott Cochran, Dean of The Space, Co-Chair
Dave Pittman, Associate Professor of Psychology, Co-Chair
Jeremy Henkel, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Mark D. Line, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Sports Programs
Reverend Ronald A. Robinson, Perkins-Prothro Chaplain & Professor of Religion
Anne Rodrick, Associate Professor of History
John Ware, Associate Professor of English
Beth D. Wallace, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Director of the Wellness Center
Carol B. Wilson, Professor of English & Coordinator of Academic Advising
Susan M. Thomas, Administrative Assistant to the Department of Psychology
Corry W. Oakes III, Board of Trustees Member
C. Michael Smith, Board of Trustees Member

Strengthening Campus and Community
Roberta H. Bigger, Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students, Co-Chair
Stacey R. Hettes, Associate Professor of Biology, Co-Chair
Katherine (Trina) Janiec Jones, Associate Professor of Religion
Catherine L. Schmitz, Associate Professor of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Charles D. Kay, Professor of Philosophy
Natalie S. Grinnell, Professor of English
Thomas M. Henson Jr., Assistant Director of Alumni & Parent’s Programs
Kelly Ann French, Manager of The Space
Micki C. Roddy, Office Assistant to the Department of Biology
Dennis Wiseman, Provost
Betty J. Montgomery, Board of Trustees Member
Bishop William H. Willimon, Board of Trustees Member

Expanding Wofford’s Scope
Lillian E. Gonzalez, Chair & Associate Professor of Accounting, Business and Finance, Co-Chair
Richard A. Johnson, Director of Athletics, Co-Chair
John W. Birney, Director of Admission
Mark A. Ferguson, Chair, Associate Professor & Director of Theatre
Cissy T. Fowler, Associate Professor of Sociology
Timothy J. Schmitz, Chair & Associate Professor of History
Julie Sexeny, Assistant Professor of English
Annie S. Mitchell, Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Carolyn B. Sparks, Director of Financial Aid
Jane S. Forbes, Administrative Assistant & Lecturer in Computer Science
H. Neel Hipp Jr., Board of Trustees Member
Daniel B. Morrison Jr., Board of Trustees Member
 


11- http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/budget-pressures-persist-for-public-and-private-colleges-alike/81431
12- William Deresiewicz, Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League, New Republic, July 21, 2014, http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118747/ivy-league-schools-are-overrated-send-your-kids-elsewhere