Luther College Chips

Strategic Action Plan approved

Grace Onsrud, Staff Writer

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The Strategic Action Plan for the next five years was approved by the Board of Regents on Feb. 10 after an 18 month-long planning process. The plan will focus on four overarching goals and 15 objectives for the college. These goals and objectives are based on input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The Action Plan Task Force used these goals and objectives to formulate 49 priority actions that will begin at Luther over the next five years.

The four goals are to reinvent the liberal arts education for relevance in a global society, support career preparation and resilience amidst global change, promote inclusivity as a core value, and be a leader in financial sustainability. Over the next few years, Luther is looking to revise general curriculum, restructure of the diversity council, and focus on experiential learning opportunities such as internships. The Action Plan also includes actions to maximize enrollment, such as increasing affordability through scholarships or adding new degree programs. Not all of these changes will take place next year, but there will be an ongoing discussion in upcoming years as to how the Strategic Planning Committee and the Action Plan Task Force can implement changes that will move Luther closer to reaching the four goals.

The Committee and Task Force members include students, faculty, and staff who were chosen through a nomination process. The planning committee collected data through surveys and “idea walls” around campus where students expressed concerns and ideas. Interim Dean for Institutional Planning and Mission Bradley Chamberlain, who co-chaired the Strategic Planning Committee and the Action Plan Task Force, said that student and faculty input significantly influenced the outcome of the plan.

“Based on the conversations that happened over the first nine months [of the planning process], we came up with a series of planning themes that we really wanted to focus on,” Chamberlain said. “What we chose to prioritize is based on the input that we received from the campus, community, and beyond.”

Vice President for Finance and Administration and Co-Chair of the Action Plan Task Force Eric Runestad said that some of the priority activities for the first year have already begun and he hopes that the community will start to feel the effects.

“Hopefully students are starting to experience some things,” Runestad said. “[Interim Dean for Institutional Equity and Inclusion] Lisa Scott’s work is an example of that. She’s been holding workshops and trainings for students, faculty, and staff. That’s an example of an initiative that has already begun.”

Another initiative beginning this year is the “Next Steps For Sophomores” program, which is an effort to help sophomores plan their next few years at Luther and beyond.

has been this opening, this opportunity, to really engage sophomores in this intentional reflection period that could help inform their class selection in their junior and senior year, help them discern majors if they haven’t done that already, and help them prepare for experiential learning opportunities that will ultimately advance them into their chosen professions. The program is designed to provide intentional periods of reflection for students in the sophomore class.”has been this opening, this opportunity to really engage sophomores in this intentional reflection period that could help inform their class selection in their junior and senior year, help them discern majors if they haven’t done that already, and help them prepare for experiential learning opportunities that will ultimately advance them into their chosen professions. The program is designed to provide intentional periods of reflection for students in the sophomore class.”

The focus on creating opportunities for career preparation and experiential learning influenced many of the 49 actions.

“We want to accelerate opportunities for research and internship experiences,” Chamberlain said. “We want to create opportunities for students to do these things besides just in the summer. So we are envisioning spaces in Minneapolis or Des Moines or Rochester, where students can go and reside […] and have a significant internship or research experience that’s credit bearing.”

The push to promote intersectionality between subjects and global thinking is another effort towards preparing students for the changing global society.

“We are encouraging the faculty to consider a revision to the general education requirements, and much of that would be done in order to emphasize what we think is one of the overarching goals within the plan, which is to prepare students to engage and lead and serve in a global society,” Chamberlain said.

The plan also renews commitments to environmental sustainability on campus that were outlined in the previous strategic plan.

Janet Irankunda (‘19) was one of three current students who served on the Strategic Planning Committee. She met with the committee every two weeks for almost the entirety of the past academic year. She said that connecting Luther students to the outside world is one of the aspects of the plan that she believes will help Luther to grow and adapt.

“A big part of it is making sure our students are ready to go into the world,” Irankunda said. “Though we have good curriculum at Luther that prepares us in some ways, it’s not the same as really being immersed into the society outside of the Luther bubble. So we are trying to break that Luther bubble.”

She said that student input was a large part of the planning process and she encourages students to get involved and speak up about their ideas. The planning process is always ongoing, as the committee must decide which activities to begin for the next five years.

“I think students should take the time to look at the plan because we are a big part of the changes that happen on campus,” Irankunda said. “We really do have a lot of power, but we need to take the initiative and get involved to make the changes we want to see in our school.”

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