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Planning Process Background Information

As we look to the future, Macalester is operating from a position of strength. We have excellent faculty and staff, and an academically rigorous program. Strong enrollment and high graduation rates. Opportunities for students to work closely with faculty, and take advantage of the benefits of our Twin Cities location. A long history of operating with a balanced budget. A 30,000+ strong network of active, engaged alumni.

That said, for all higher education institutions, this is a time of transition, and Macalester faces a number of challenges. Rising costs that outpace inflation making college difficult for families to afford. A rising discount rate that increasingly relies on our endowment and annual fundraising to cover operating costs. A history of alumni giving that is not as strong as many of our peer schools. Fewer students applying to four-year colleges, and a decreasing number of international students applying to U.S. institutions.

The following resources will be used by those most involved in our strategic planning, including our Champions, and we hope you will find them useful as together we consider Macalester’s future.

Past Work

Following are some of the many ways members of the Macalester community have provided input, to date, during the planning process. In addition, Strategic Planning Champions held audience-specific and identity/affinity-group specific listening sessions or attended existing events in order to broaden participation in the strategic planning process.

  • October 7, 2021: Alumni, staff, faculty, students, and parents joined the Big Questions event during which President Rivera and Provost Anderson-Levy discussed the strategic planning process.
  • October 27 and 28, 2021: Alumni, staff, faculty, students, and parents joined a presentation of the financial model overview delivered by Associate Professor David Shuman, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment Bethany Miller, and VP of Administration and Finance Patricia Langer. (An additional session for students only was held on October 28.)
  • December 2021-February 2022: Alumni, students, faculty, and staff responded to the strategic planning survey.
  • December 2021-February 2022: Strategic Planning Champions engaged faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents in numerous listening sessions. 
  • January 24, 2022: Parents were invited to join a Parent Town Hall with President Rivera and Provost Anderson-Levy.
  • January 25, 2022: Alumni were invited to join an Alumni Town Hall with President Rivera and Provost Anderson-Levy.
  • February 2, 2022: Alumni Strategic Planning Champions held an all-alumni listening session. 
  • February 25, 2022: The Board of Trustees and the senior leadership team met to discuss strategic plan goals and priorities.
  • March 24, 2022: The High Winds Fund, along with a Strategic Planning Champion who lives close to campus, hosted a listening session with Macalester Groveland neighbors.
  • March 29, 2022: Twin Cities community leaders and partners who are involved with the work of Macalester gathered to share their perspectives and expertise on the needs of community organizations and opportunities to amplify our Twin Cities location.

Between April 4-11, 2022, we held strategic plan discussion sessions, which were open to any member of the Macalester community including: students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents. Some sessions were focused on a specific topic and others were focused broadly on strategic planning. All were designed to solicit feedback from our community.

  • April 4, 2022, 12-1pm CT/Topic: Fuel Community Well-being and Flourishing 
    Jen Jacobsen and Patricia Langer, Facilitators
  • April 4, 2022, 4-5 pm CT/Topic: Create Signature Mac Experiences for Students
    Prof. Ernie Capello and Jeff Allen, Facilitators
  • April 5, 2022, 7-8 pm CT/Topic: Build Sustainable and Enduring Approaches to Access and Equity
    Dr. Alina Wong and Daymond Dean ‘91, Facilitators
  • April 6, 2022, 7-8:30 pm CT/Topic: All-Theme Session 
    President Suzanne Rivera, Facilitator
  • April 7, 2022, 12-1 pm CT/Topic: Reimagine the Residential Liberal Arts Experience
    Provost Lisa Anderson-Levy and Niloy Ray ‘99, Facilitators
  • April 11, 2022, 7-8:30 pm CT/Topic: All-Theme Session 
    President Suzanne Rivera, Facilitator
  • April 12, 2022, 8-9:15 am CT/Topic: All-Theme Session for International Alumni
    Patricia Langer and Daymond Dean ’91, Facilitators

Over the summer, the senior leadership team developed the draft plan, which incorporated input from throughout the planning process.

Before sending the draft strategic plan to the Board of Trustees, there were opportunities for all members of the community to learn more about the draft plan, offer feedback, and ask questions. Those sessions included:

  • For Staff: September 7, 2022 from 2-3 p.m., hosted by the Staff Advisory Council
  • For Faculty: August 31, 2022 from 3-4:30 p.m., hosted by the Faculty Advisory Council
  • For Students: August 31, 2022 from 6-7 p.m., hosted by Kathryn Kay Coquemont, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and Lisa Anderson-Levy, Provost
  • For Alumni and Current Parents:
    • September 6, 2022 from 7-8 p.m.
    • September 7, 2022 from noon-1 p.m.