From the President
by Nancy Y. Bekavac
Education is about the future—it is the work of each generation to transmit, however imperfectly, the lessons they have learned to future generations. Institutions of education are therefore inherently forward-looking, trying, at their best, to discern the shape of the future so that they can better educate their students for the world in which they will lead their lives and shape their history. That is why colleges are never perfect, and they are never still. Like Heraclitus’s river, a college or university is never the same at any two points in its existence.
One way to manage the changing nature of higher education for the future is to plan. For the last two and a half years, Scripps has been planning intensively. Because of our recent successes, including the growth of the College in size, endowment, and reputation, following the conclusion of the successful Campaign for the Scripps Woman, the Board of Trustees took the opportunity to prepare a plan for the next decade. With broad participation from faculty, students, alumnae, and trustees, we launched our effort at the annual Board of trustees retreat in 2005. After discussion, research, listening, refinement, and balancing, the trustees approved the plan, and it is now ready for your review.
We are very ambitious for Scripps College—as you can see in the title we chose for the plan, Scripps College in the Next Decade: Leading with Excellence. Ambitious we may be, but we are also realists—Scripps College and its alumnae, faculty, students, and staff all live in the real world of time, resource, and space constraints; therefore the planning committees made difficult choices among a host of alternative programs, policies, and possibilities. Nonetheless, you will see that this strategic plan concentrates on the heart of higher education: the vital connection between talented students and gifted faculty. That is why the first section of the plan, labeled “Academic Excellence,” is by far the most important set of initiatives. All of our other plans and initiatives flow from our concentration on the theme of academic quality and how to enhance it.
My service at Scripps College will conclude with this strategic plan, but my love for this institution, and my pride in what it is and what it will be, will continue as long as I live, understanding as I do that the College will, and must, change with each class that enters and graduates, with each faculty member, with each adjustment to the curriculum. What is unwavering, what is unchanging, is our devotion to the mission Miss Scripps challenged us to uphold.
I believe that this strategic plan gives form and substance to the next iteration of that mission for the next generation of Scripps women. All of us who worked on it hope that you will find it thought-provoking, balanced, and ambitious. And we also hope you will share your responses with the College in whatever format you choose. This strategic plan is not carved into marble or cast in bronze—it is an invitation to further thinking and planning and dreaming. As President Eisenhower once said, “The plan is nothing. Planning is everything. ” So be part of the planning, and add your voice to the flow of ideas and possibilities we have imagined in this document. We hope it will stimulate further thoughts, discussions, and dreams, which is the purpose of a college, after all: to collect a group of the most talented individuals and then to let them create, out of the resources at hand, a community of learners extended through space and time, reaching out for and changing the future—for the better.
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