Strategic Planning Process

Building on Strength represents the culmination of a yearlong planning process commenced in fall 2015 and completed in fall 2016. The process was overseen by several planning groups and supported by the services of several consultants from Keeling & Associates.

The Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) and Keeling & Associates (K&A) together used multiple methods for gathering the observations, ideas, and suggestions of the Connecticut College community. Between September and January 2015, they helped facilitate more than 100 individual and small-group discussions on and off campus with nearly 450 faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Almost 1,200 comments were collected from four idea walls posted on campus. Well over 2,200 people in the extended community responded to a confidential online survey. Further ideas were collected from four open forums on campus, attended by almost 90 faculty, staff, and students.

During the spring 2016 semester, the SPC commenced the second phase, oriented around analysis and synthesis of the data gathered in the fall. In early January 2016, K&A delivered comprehensive reports summarizing the results from the fall’s information gathering. Additional small- and large-group meetings were held with campus constituents and trustees to solicit feedback on the priorities that emerged. In March 2016, the SPC and K&A came together with senior management in a retreat to reach consensus about overarching priorities, goals, and objectives. During April and May 2016, K&A worked with the committee to begin drafting the plan rationale, and members of the administration met individually with committee members to review and refine the goals. In early May, the SPC convened additional open forums to review the draft plan and consider additional community feedback.

During the final phase of the process, in summer 2016, the President appointed two more groups to clarify the actions necessary to achieve the plan’s goals and to begin reviewing the resource implications. One considered the plan as a whole; the other focused on the new curriculum. Both contained members who had served on the SPC.

The Implementation Planning Group (IPG), working with K&A, drew on the detailed community feedback provided during fall and spring phases of the planning process to determine appropriate action steps for each goal, reaching out to others in the community to refine and clarify ideas. Specific proposals were identified with estimated costs, timelines, responsible parties, and metrics for assessment.

The IPG submitted its recommendations to the President for review at the end of its work. Previous drafts of the strategic plan were then synthesized with the output of the summer working groups to produce the final plan

Project Activities and Timeline

The following outlines the timeline of the planning process to date:

Phase I: Engagement, information gathering, and planning themes

August-December 2015

  • Collection of key campus data, reports, plans, and documents
  • Initial retreat with president’s cabinet
  • Appointment and charge of the Strategic Planning Committee
  • Telephone interviews
  • Monthly site visits for meetings and information gathering through personal and small-group interviews, large open forums or “town hall meetings,” and idea walls
  • Online survey of College constituencies
  • Data and information synthesis and development of preliminary themes
Phase II: Priorities, goals and objectives

January-Early May 2016

  • Work with the Committee and leadership to develop and revise planning themes
  • College-wide review and discussion of findings and themes, led by the Committee
  • Strategic planning retreat with the Committee and College leadership
  • Refinement of vision, values, goals, and objectives
  • Community reflection and review of draft goals and objectives
  • Drafts of strategic plan
Phase III: Implementation/action plan completion

June-October 2016

  • Appointment and charge of Implementation/Action Planning Group (IPG)
  • Draft and final versions of an implementation/action plan by the IPG
  • Finalization, review with the campus community, and approval of the complete strategic plan by the Board of Trustees

Roles and activities

The following outlines the basic roles and activities of the College's various constituencies during the planning process:

Strategic Planning Committee
  • Steward of the College community’s interests and aspirations in the planning process
  • Serves as a consistent source of communication to and from the College’s constituencies
  • Works with K&A to coordinate information gathering, data analysis, and development of planning themes
  • Participates in a strategic planning retreat to reach consensus on overarching strategy, priorities, goals, and objectives
  • Works with K&A after the retreat to refine goals and objectives
All-campus community
  • Active contributors to the planning process through participation in on-campus information and idea-gathering activities, online survey, and review and discussion of preliminary themes and draft goals and objectives
  • Collective owners of the strategic planning process
  • Constituent groups represented on the Strategic Planning Committee
President and senior administrators
  • Develops the charges for and supports the work of the Strategic Planning Committee and the Implementation/Action Planning Group
  • Communicates regularly with K&A and provides ongoing, collaborative strategic analysis and leadership perspectives on the planning process and emerging ideas and priorities
  • Communicates with and updates the Board of Trustees regarding the planning process
Implementation/Action Planning Group
  • Develops the activities, timelines, lines of accountability, and assessment metrics that will be detailed in the implementation/action plan to track and measure the progress of the plan once implemented
Keeling & Associates
  • Consultants, advisors, and facilitators throughout the process
  • Collect data and information through multiple methods, on- and off-site, and assist the Strategic Planning Committee in analysis and formulating conclusions
  • Facilitate the work of the Strategic Planning Committee and maintain regular communication with the president and her cabinet
  • Work with the Strategic Planning Committee to refine goals and objectives after the strategic planning retreat
  • Develop a framework for the creation of the implementation/action plan’
  • Assist the Implementation/Action Planning Group in drafting the implementation plan
  • Assist in preparing the final drafts of the full strategic plan, including the implementation plan