Maryville College sees ‘window of opportunity' in next strategic plan

January 30, 2002

On Jan. 25, Maryville College administrators, faculty and staff members, friends and students of Maryville College celebrated the end of a strategic planning process and the beginning of a new, five-year strategic period that many believe will take the College "on to greatness."

Entitled "The MC Window of Opportunity Plan," the strategic plan gets its name from a quote by late Board member Baxter Lee who said, in 1998, that Maryville College had a window of opportunity to go on to greatness.

"I very much wish that Baxter could be here this evening to join in this celebration of the MC Window of Opportunity Plan," said Dr. Gerald W. Gibson, Maryville College President, during the program. "But let me say to Baxter, whose spirit is surely with us tonight: Baxter, Maryville College is going on to greatness!"

The celebration, held in the Margaret Ware Dining Room in Pearsons Hall, was attended by more than 150 people. Most of those in attendance were involved in the nearly 24-month planning process of the College's strategic plan.

Sharing the podium with Gibson during the celebration was Mr. Mark Cate, vice president for college advancement and planning; Mr. Dick Ragsdale, chairman of the Board of Directors; and Dr. Robert Naylor, interim vice president and dean of the College and chairperson of the MC Window of Opportunity Steering Committee.

The planning process

During the celebration program, both Gibson and Naylor expressed thanks to the 117 people who served on 10 commissions convened for the Window of Opportunity Plan.

A Traditions and Values Commission was convened on campus early in 2000, and the commission's report issued in May of that year provided a foundation to begin visioning exercises across campus and across the College's constituency groups.

Five "theme" commissions and five "weaver" commissions were formed in the spring of 2001. Theme commissions proposed over-arching goals of the strategic plan. These goals centered on the educational experience, faculty and staff, students and the college environment, resources for excellence and outreach and partnerships.

Weaver commissions were formed to ensure that broad-based themes were integrated into all of the goals. These broad-based themes included community, diversity, faith and mission, stewardship and technology.

Commissions met three times in 2001. From discussions held and ideas submitted by commission groups, commission co-chairpersons selected 42 objectives and narratives for review by the plan's steering committee. The steering committee reduced the number of objectives to 29 and wrote a final proposal of the plan, which was formally approved by the Board of Directors on Jan. 25.

In his address to the Jan. 25 evening crowd, Gibson admitted that the planning process had been sometimes chaotic, but said chaos could be expected when a large number of people are involved in planning a path to success.

"The measure of success in planning is surely not what happened along the way, but what kind of product the process produced, and what depth of enthusiasm was kindled for creating the bright future described in the finished plan," he said.

"Never in Maryville's history have so many people engaged in dreaming about and planning for a greater future for the College," Gibson continued. "I believe that in the MC Window of Opportunity Plan, they have helped to create the blueprints for a Maryville College that is the best and strongest in its history."

The blueprints

The MC Window of Opportunity Plan builds on the momentum of the MC2000 Plan, Maryville College's strategic plan that began in 1994 and included goals for reputation, enrollment, students, the curriculum, campus facilities, financial resources and other areas of the College.

The 29 objectives in the final MC Window of Opportunity Plan are grouped under four vision statements:

  • "To become one of the nation's premier colleges known for the strength and integrity of its distinctive values-based, liberal arts education."
  • "To create a vibrant campus community recognized as a model character-building environment that emphasizes leadership development, public service, volunteerism and holistic well-being."
  • "To build a broadly diverse and exceptionally talented faculty and staff preeminent in their roles as teachers, mentors and partners in the education of students."
  • "To establish a hallmark learning environment exemplary for its superior facilities, unrivalled technology and campus of great aesthetic appeal."

A plan for the fine arts

Included in the MC Window of Opportunity Plan is an objective that calls for a newly constructed Center for the Fine and Performing Arts that will "significantly enhance the educational offerings of the College and integrate community and regional activity in the arts."

During the MC2000 strategic period, Maryville College renovated the Center for Campus Ministry and renovated and expanded Bartlett Hall for use as a new student center. Both bricks-and-mortar projects called for fund-raising that totaled roughly $7 million.

While college administrators do not have the specifics for a "newly constructed Center for the Fine and Performing Arts," they do expect to launch a fund-raising campaign once plans are finalized.

"I see a Maryville College where the campus - its buildings, roads, landscaping - everything that meets the visitor's eye - are in first-rate condition, declaring our heritage and our pride," Gibson said in his address. " … I see a Maryville College that has taken as lofty a place in the estimation of the community, state and nation as it holds in the hearts of its loyal alumni. I see, in summary, a Maryville College that is in a position of unquestioned historical strength."