Administrative Offices President's Planning Portfolio Macalester College

--- Introduction --- The Basics --- Civic Engagement --- Urban Opportunities --- Academic Quality ---
--- Multicultural Organization --- Strategic Use of Resources --- Communications --- Key Investments ---

Implementation Task Force Charges
September 27, 2001 | updated March 6, 2002

The first assignment for each task force will be to review its draft charge and seek any necessary clarifications. Resources are available through the President's Office to support needed investments, including hiring of consultants, travel, and the like.

In addition to their specific charges, every task force should address these questions, which apply to all:

A. What are the implications of your analysis for our investments in information technology and services?

B. What are the implications of your analysis for pursuing our commitments to diversity and multiculturalism?

C. What are the implications of your analysis for pursuing our commitments to promoting civic engagement?

1. Admissions and Financial Aid Task Force

We need to continue and, if possible, accelerate our progress in enrolling highly qualified students. We particularly want to achieve greater progress in enrolling U. S. students of color and low- or no-need students, with the goal of remaining need blind in admission and funding full need of admitted students.

The task force is charged with reviewing our admissions position relative to our comparison schools and identifying key factors that could strengthen our position. The task force should further recommend investments and strategic actions the College should undertake (either within the admissions operation or elsewhere) to promote improvements. These need to be considered in the context of overall resource constraints.

To assist its efforts, the task force is encouraged to engage a professional consultant (or consultants) to inform its deliberations.

2. Task Force on Institutional Identity

The College communicates its "message"--the public expression of its role, purpose and values--through a variety of media to both internal and external audiences. Our "message" is embodied in everything from our college catalog and our admissions search materials--and our web site--to the commencement program and the orientation of new faculty and staff. Are these various communications consistent, mutually supportive and effective for the audiences they address?

The task force is charged with undertaking a careful comparison of Macalester's communications with those of a small number of comparable institutions. The task force should seek to learn how these messages are received and understood by their audiences. Expert advice should be sought in undertaking this assignment.

The task force should recommend strategies that will promote the development and dissemination of effective and well-coordinated messages.

3. Academic Program Quality and Structure

Ensuring that our academic program meets our students' educational needs and is consistently high in quality is essential to us. The task force should review the existing mechanisms for assuring academic quality--including hiring and review of individual faculty, periodic review of departments, accreditation reviews and Curriculum Committee review of proposals for new departments and programs--and recommend ways to improve them. The task force should further review existing mechanisms for helping individual faculty, departments and programs to improve their work, and recommend improvements. This should include assisting with development of the program statement and plans for the new Center for Teaching and Scholarship.

Another part of this assignment is to review the College's governance structure and academic organization. The task force should consider the role, purposes and effectiveness of our committee structure, our department and program structure, and other relevant aspects of governance, and make recommendations for change as appropriate. The task force should coordinate its work with that of the Task Force on Resource Use, as well as with the Faculty Advisory Council.

4. Student Learning Experience Task Force

Students travel hundreds or thousands of miles to attend Macalester, not simply to take great classes (important as that is), but to enter into an environment that will shape their learning experience and help them to begin the process of becoming liberally educated citizens and leaders. Collectively, all of us at Macalester produce that learning environment, one that is enriched both by our common purposes and by our differences in background, perspectives and interests.

The task force is charged with examining the relations between curricular and co-curricular life at Macalester. The task force should consider ways of strengthening the whole range of residential and co-curricular activities, including athletics, student government and organizations, lectures and public events, social life and other on-campus pursuits, as well as the range of opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage with the larger Twin Cities community, through service, research and internships. The task force should, in cooperation with the Council for Multicultural Affairs, give particular attention to the organization of multicultural affairs at Macalester.

The task force should recommend policies the College might undertake and investments it might make in strengthening the student learning experience. It would be helpful for this task force to work with the Facilities Task Force in establishing a desired percentage of students living in campus housing.

5. Task Force on Resource Use: Budgeting, Staffing and Organization

The Strategic Directions Report offered the judgments that Macalester can plan on only modest budgetary growth and should rely on a "lean staffing model"-- that is, on sharply limiting growth in staff, with the aim of ensuring good compensation for an excellent staff. Similarly, faculty expansion should not be anticipated. Investments in program will also need to be disciplined, with careful attention to overall resource constraints.

Improvement in Macalester's operation will, therefore, depend critically on intelligent deployment of our resources, both financial and human. This task force should review the College's organizational and reporting structure and search for ways to free people to do their work more effectively. This task force should give principal attention to non-faculty staff and organization. The Task Force on Academic Program Quality and Structure has been charged with reviewing academic organization and governance, including the College's departmental and committee structure, but should coordinate its work with this task force.

A particular challenge is examining whether the College has the right "mix" of staffing levels and assignments on the non-faculty side, both now and looking ahead. The task force should, therefore, help the College to develop forward-looking mechanisms for reallocating staff from less to more important areas as needs change and vacancies occur. In the same spirit, the task force should review existing mechanisms for allocating program resources and recommend ways to improve those mechanisms.

6. Facilities Task Force

This task force has a dual charge. Because of the urgency of developing plans for several major projects, including Janet Wallace and Athletics and Recreation renovations, as well as possible expansion in residential facilities, we need this task force to focus on those specific issues. The task force should consult with the wider community and help to ensure an orderly planning process for these efforts, with attention to the broad interests and goals of the College.

In addition, the Strategic Directions report urged that the College make sure its facilities planning process is forward-looking, strategic and inclusive. Thus, the existing task force should make recommendations concerning how the facilities planning process should be organized in the future, with attention both to shorter run needs and the evolution of the College's "Master Plan". For this purpose, the Facilities Task Force should coordinate closely with the Task Force on Resource Use.

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