Twelve-Month Campus and First-Year Program Take Shape
March 30, 2012
Members of the College’s faculty have met numerous times over the
past two months to consider a variety of proposals and scenarios for
developing a year-round learning experience at New England College.
Throughout the process, Mark Watman, chair of the committee, has kept
the community well informed on the deliberations.
The 12-month committee is currently considering the advantages of two models that incorporate different sequences of 7-week and 14- or 15-week terms. Under consideration are the structure of the academic calendar, the impact on enrollment and financial aid, the inclusion of a study-away experience, and the appeal and benefits of the models for current and prospective students. Building opportunities for engaged and experiential learning remains a high priority for the move to a 12-month campus.
The committee is currently developing a short description of each scenario and related survey questions to share with current and prospective students to measure their level of interest. As well, the committee is working with the Finance Office to model out the financial implications. Members of the NEC community are invited to attend and participate in meetings and are encouraged to continue to offer feedback to the committee. The College plans to launch a pilot program in 2014.
First Year Program
The First Year Working Group has met regularly since October to
explore opportunities that will support the transition of first year
students to the rigors of the academic and community life of New England
College. The group identified a number of possible initiatives that
include enhanced communication to incoming students, the development of
common experiences and traditions, peer mentoring, expansion of
co-curricular programs as well as a first year course that would assist
first year students in developing the knowledge and skills necessary for
The First Year Working Group, led by Dr. Sylvia Spears, continues to receive and consider feedback from the campus community. Current first year students were recently invited to share their college experience through their Writing 1020 classes.
The First Year Working Group will be organizing a staff/faculty forum in mid-April.
STRATEGIC PLANNING HAS A NEW ADDRESS
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The Vision for New England College
The development of New England College’s five-year Strategic Plan has been a major milestone for our College community. While there will be much to share with you in the months and years ahead as we implement the Strategic Plan, it will be helpful to remind ourselves of the vision that informed this plan and to renew our energy and commitment as a learning community to these collective goals.
Our Strategic Plan represents the renewed engagement of our broad and diverse College community and the convergence of a number of positive achievements by the College, including the recent completion of a master facilities plan, a track record of regional and national recognition for academic initiatives, and improved financial stability. Implementing the many exciting initiatives associated with the Strategic Plan will raise the College to a new level of prominence in the academic community, position the College to serve our region’s economic and educational needs with increasing innovation, and foster an ever-growing pool of prospective students.
THE FOUR CORNERSTONES OF THE STRATEGIC PLAN
Preserving our Traditions
New England College’s Strategic Plan boldly challenges us to live our mission “to transform ourselves and our world.” The Plan honors the traditions and values that are common to us all. These values can be traced back through our history and continue to demonstrate their relevance in our work today. The many initiatives associated with the Plan are fashioned around the pursuit of imaginative, innovative, and creative approaches to learning, social justice, ethical and responsible citizenship, service to the community, sustainability, and a lifetime of continuous learning. These institutional values are the heart of New England College, defining many of the distinctive qualities of our educational community, and together, they represent the underlying framework of the Strategic Plan.
A Quality Educational Experience
The driving force behind any major institutional undertaking must build upon the quality of the learning experience that we offer at NEC. The promise of transformation is what brings students to New England College and the quality of their experience is what keeps them here. As educators, we feel deeply the call to play an important role in that transformation, and our alumni daily remind us of our many successes. Nearly all of the initiatives described in our Strategic Plan can be traced back to this fundamental desire to improve continuously the student experience at NEC and to bring creative and innovative practice to all that we do.
New England College’s successful ability to manage our financial resources has allowed us to pursue many important initiatives at a time when other institutions have scaled back their capital projects and academic and co-curricular programming. Our financial strength has grown significantly over the years and our sound financial planning and conservative borrowing policies have served us well. We are currently in an extremely favorable position to advance our resources and to make a substantial improvement in our level of financial security. The Strategic Plan provides a well-crafted design that will allow us to attain a new level of financial self-determination that supports the aspirations detailed in it.
Creativity and Innovation
Today’s economic environment offers real opportunities for those who are able to apply creativity and innovation to practice. For the past several years, faculty and staff at New England College have worked together to address the needs of the College from a perspective of programming, operations, staffing, infrastructure, and capital projects. Together, we have forged ahead with building projects and maintained the integrity of both our academic programming and our workforce. We have launched new industry-focused degree offerings and have received recognition for existing programs, and our commitment to sustainability and civic engagement has been acknowledged by national organizations. Regardless of the duration of this economic downturn and the inevitability of others to come, our flexibility and agility as an institution will allow us to see the opportunity in what others perceive as a challenge. Our Strategic Plan is a reminder to us to address every activity with fresh ideas. Our vision statement describes us as one of the most creative, innovative, and supportive learning environments where transformation is at the core of all that we pursue.
INITIATIVES FROM THE STRATEGIC PLAN
We have moved quickly from the developmental process of strategic planning into the implementation phase. Although there are many worthy projects associated with our Strategic Plan, there are a few that stand out for their potential impact on our community, the variety of stakeholders that will be required to implement them, and our ability to begin work on them immediately.
A Year-Round Educational Experience
The New England College campus offers an exceptional setting for our students’ educational experience. Not only do we enjoy the riches of the natural environment and the beauty of the four seasons, but our proximity to outstanding cultural and recreational offerings creates an unparalleled opportunity for educational and personal enrichment. Incorporating the summer months into our academic programming makes perfect sense and is something that our community has discussed for some time. Prospective NEC students will be attracted to a flexible academic schedule that allows them to complete their degrees at their own pace, incorporates study away opportunities, and possibly shortens the traditional four-year program offered by other schools. This is yet another example of how NEC applies innovation to the higher education experience and will serve to amplify our distinctive academic programming. Our distinguished faculty are currently taking the lead in developing this exciting model with the goal of launching our new academic calendar in the 2013-14 season.
One of the defining moments of the educational experience of many of our alumni from the 70s, 80s, and 90s was the time they spent on our Arundel campus in England. Our presence in Arundel was a bold and innovative move for a small liberal arts college. We have an incredible opportunity to build on what we learned from that experience and to incorporate that knowledge into the next bold and innovative study away program for another generation of NEC students. One of the objectives of our Study Away program will be to allow our students to incorporate a global learning experience to their education and to develop as global citizens. Our Strategic Plan calls for a dynamic curriculum-based study away program that exploits the potential of a transforming experience for our students and promotes our distinctiveness through innovative practice.
A Presence in Concord, New Hampshire
Another tremendous opportunity awaits New England College in the educational landscape of the state capital as the only four-year college location in the Concord area. NEC already holds a distinctive place in the political landscape of New Hampshire. We are well known for bringing presidential candidates to Henniker, providing unique experiential learning opportunities for our students, organizing College Convention around the state’s first-in-the-nation primary, and integrating community engagement in our undergraduate and graduate programs. Our proximity to Concord offers a favorable set of circumstances for us to create internship opportunities for our students, develop new programming, and bring some of our off-campus cohort groups to a centralized location. A group of faculty and staff is already exploring the opportunities that a presence in Concord would offer the College.
Growing Our Enrollment
Our Strategic Plan calls for a program to increase the College’s undergraduate and graduate populations. Members of the College community are currently looking into all the factors that influence enrollment numbers with the goal of increasing the number of undergraduate students to 2,000 by 2016 and graduate students to 2,000 by 2013. These numbers represent a 100 percent increase in our undergraduate population and a 34 percent increase in our graduate population. The research our community has done to date indicates that these optimal numbers will provide the best educational experience for our students while sustaining the most efficient financial model. The development of new academic programs will be central to the growth of our enrollments and we are well on our way with the launch of the College’s first doctoral program, the addition of our first MBA program, and the creation of innovative programs in digital and social media and legal studies.
First-Year College Experience
The recruitment and retention of students at New England College is truly a community effort. A first-year educational experience that inspires our students, helps them to identify and pursue their passion, and assists them in developing a customized learning experience that allows them to realize their educational goals, is equally critical to the long-term success of our students. We seek to develop a program that awakens in our newest students the spirit of civic engagement, social responsibility, and environmental awareness, that are hallmarks of the NEC experience. Our Strategic Plan charges both faculty and staff with developing this first-year program and it deserves our highest attention.
The implementation of our Strategic Plan focuses on a distinctive and rewarding education for undergraduate, graduate, and non-traditional students. This is the vision for New England College. I truly believe that this remarkable community is capable of great accomplishments. We have a tremendous capacity for resilience and growth, and I welcome the energy and fresh perspective of the entire NEC community.
Michele D. Perkins, Ed.D.
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