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Carleton 2033 Strategic Planning Update: Task Forces Release Draft Recommendations and Host Feedback Sessions

Carleton 2033, otherwise known as Carleton’s strategic planning process, was officially launched last fall. The planning structure is anchored by the Coordinating Committee, which oversees three task forces: Community of Belonging Task Force, Advancing the Liberal Arts Task Force, and Expanding Carleton’s Reach Task Force. 

On May 12, President Byerly sent a campuswide email that compiled each task force’s draft recommendations into a single document. “This document is not an outline of a strategic plan. Rather, these recommendations form part of the raw material from which the strategic plan will ultimately be developed,” Byerly clarified in the email.

The first section of the document recorded draft recommendations from the Community of Belonging Task Force. Notable suggestions from the task force include establishing “a First-Generation Student Success Office to provide programming and support for all first-generation students in the Carleton community.” The recommendations called for the college to “sponsor and fund recommendations from the Mental Health Working Group as they examine the best ways to support students and their needs.”

Other recommendations also described implementing “a program of regular, mandatory managerial training for all supervisors (including Dept. Chairs, Program Directors, and supervisors of student employees),” as well as creating “an inclusive, all-staff Advisory Council with representatives from each staff group — exempt, non-exempt, union, auxiliary services…”

The second section of the document contained recommendations from the Advancing the Liberal Arts Task Force, covering a wide range of curricular and academic issues. 

Topics included “charg[ing] faculty to examine the balance of our Liberal Arts graduation requirements — curricular exploration, QREs, WR2, and global citizenship.” This task encompassed re-examining the A&I seminar, begging the question of “whether there should be greater consistency among [A&I Seminars]” and “consider[ing] not having them count as a distribution requirement.” 

Committee members additionally discussed the language requirement. . Bullet points included “define ‘proficiency’ as the learning outcome of the language requirement and consider whether proficiency is still the desired outcome,” as well as “compare scope/course load of the language requirement to other curricular exploration requirements.”

Cross-disciplinary teaching was also highlighted. Recommendations described “develop[ing] and financially support[ing] a variety of collaborative teaching models (team teaching, linked courses, cluster topics, etc),” and offering them consistently “for multiple years … not just [as] one-offs.” It also requested that “Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC) … and the Faculty Personnel Committee (FPC) … propose handbook language codifying how multidisciplinary teaching and scholarship is evaluated for tenure and promotion.”

Experiential learning opportunities featured prominently in discussions, including “expand[ing] resources for ACE courses, student research [and] collaborations with staff” and “explor[ing] the creation of a new course tag… that signals that the course includes collaborations with the Career Center and/or integrated programming in partnership with the Career Center.”

Furthermore, the document specifically spotlighted the Humanities Center, proposing the establishment of student fellow programs or practica/internships. There was also the proposal to “identify or create a larger inviting space on campus for the Humanities Center that would make student social gatherings/intellectual exchanges and other Humanities Center programs more visible.”

The final section of the document outlined recommendations by the Expanding Carleton’s Reach Task Force. One recommendation proposed establishing “a Carleton center based in the Twin Cities that will provide a physical space and support for community-based academic programming, engagement with local organizations, alumni networking, industry partnerships and other cities-based opportunities.” The document also described a possible “Center for Teaching Excellence” that would “celebrate Carleton’s stellar reputation in teaching …[and] create opportunities for Carleton’s leadership in pedagogical innovation and development to be shared with colleagues regionally and nationally.” 

Finally, one suggestion was to “establish a Center for Sustainability to align efforts… and share sustainability thought and practice leadership more broadly.”

Byerly’s email invited Carleton community members to open meetings, which took place on May 16, 17 and 18 respectively. The hour-long sessions were meant to gauge community members’ initial reactions to the recommendations as outlined in the document. As Byerly wrote in her original email, “We are eager to hear your thoughts on these preliminary recommendations before the task forces prepare their final reports, which will combine their recommendations with some additional rationale and commentary.”

The feedback session on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 took place in the Great Hall. It began with short introductions and comments from co-chairs of the three planning task forces — Vice President and Treasurer Eric Runestad (Expanding Carleton’s Reach), Vice President for Student Life Dean Carolyn Livingston (Community of Belonging), and Associate Professor of Sociology Liz Raleigh (Advancing the Liberal Arts). 

After introductory comments, community members engaged in small-group discussions at roundtables. Each table focused on the recommendations made by the singular task force. Members of task forces were also present, providing clarifications and explanations if necessary. Notes were also taken by representatives of different task forces. Midway through the session, community members were able to relocate to another table (of their choosing) to share their perspective on the draft recommendations from a different task force. 

“I thought those feedback sessions were excellent. I loved having a chance to hear from so many different people — the registrar, the head of the Career Center, the Provost, staff, faculty and students,” said Serena Zabin. “The great thing about those conversations is that they gave me a chance to think about connections that I would never have made before, like Nancy Braker’s great insight that Carleton already has a connection to one public-facing office that highlights excellent teaching: SERC (Science Education Resource Center).”

Some faculty members also expressed excitement for specific initiatives. “I love the idea of a new physical space on campus for the humanities — something as pretty and flashy as Anderson Hall,” Sonja Anderson, Assistant Professor of Religion, commented. “The humanities are at the very heart of a liberal arts education, and our buildings ought to reflect that.”

Zabin seconded the sentiment, stating, “of the recommendations, I was very pleased to see the central place ‘Engagement with the Humanities’ had in the draft.” 

According to the online webpage for Carleton 2033, task forces will submit their final reports to the Coordinating Committee by June 2. The Coordinating Committee will then use the summer break to create an initial draft of the Strategic Plan for final community feedback in September 2023.

For community members who were unable to attend the feedback sessions, it is important to note that an online form on the Carleton 2033 website still allows individuals to share their thoughts. 

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