Past Progress Reports

Meeting 1 – Aug. 21, 2018

At its first meeting on Aug. 21, committee members were asked to reflect on the College’s trajectory over the last 5 to 10 years, with particular emphasis on the things they are most proud of.  There was remarkable agreement both about our accomplishments and our ongoing challenges: Pomona’s concerted efforts to increase accessibility and diversity in its many forms have put us in a position of leadership among national liberal arts colleges at the same time that we acknowledge the unfinished business of making inclusiveness and equity a reality for all of our students. Particular note was taken of Pomona’s national leadership with regard to recruitment and enrollment of undocumented and DACA students. There was a strong consensus that these accomplishments, trends and challenges would be a unifying theme behind the other goals identified through this process.

The committee heard a presentation by Tara Crews from the consulting firm,, on best practices in strategic planning in higher education and was introduced to IdeaScale as a tool that could potentially be helpful in reaching out to the community about needs and aspirations. Tara urged the committee to think about three types of innovation—core, adjacent and transformational—and urged us to push our thinking toward the second and third.

Finally, although there was very little discussion of specific initiatives, there appeared to be consensus on the following six themes that might form a structure for our plan while keeping the overriding interest in diversity and inclusiveness in mind at all times:

  • Access and Cost
  • Research
  • Global Engagement
  • Evolving Liberal Arts
  • Strength, Compassion and Success
  • Financial Stability

Meeting 2 – Oct. 15, 2018

Prior to the second meeting of the committee on Oct. 15, the faculty representatives met separately and drafted what might be described as a “vision statement” for the College.  They suggested, and the committee quickly agreed, that this “vision” might provide a useful framework for the strategic plan that we are hoping to create. The essence of this statement is captured in its first sentence: “Relationships lie at the heart of the Pomona College experience.” It goes on to describe a “fabric of deep and lasting bonds”—faculty to student, student to student, student to alumni—that characterize everything that we do and that might well be one of the most important defining characteristics of the liberal arts college experience. The committee agreed that we should think about how any proposed strategic initiatives enhance this core value of the College. When choosing among proposed initiatives, we should ask ourselves about how they do or do not make us a better liberal arts college.

The observation was made that this will be the first time in the College’s history that a strategic plan is being developed in an environment in which technology is simultaneously changing the way all of us learn, communicate and transact our daily business and our political and social lives. If technology is fundamentally about new ways of creating and sustaining relationships, we might focus part of this strategic plan on the multidisciplinary ways that technology sweeps across the curriculum. If this becomes a focus of our plan it will require a major investment in technology—including much more intensive support for faculty seeking to incorporate new technologies into their teaching and research.

This led to a brief, but important, exchange about the availability of resources to accomplish these and other goals.  On the one hand it could be said that Pomona’s resources enable it to do “anything” it wants, but not “everything” it might want.  On the other hand, there are those who are concerned that projections for the future do not anticipate growth of revenue sources at the same rates that we have seen for the past 30 years, and significant additions may have to be coupled with a resolve to stop doing some things in order to do new things.  This suggests that new initiatives recommended in our next strategic plan may have to be dependent on full funding from new resources raised through enhanced fundraising.

Faculty on the committee agreed to work on another draft of their “vision statement” before the next meeting, and it was agreed that the committee as a whole would begin to think about defining the “evaluation criteria” that we would use in its assessment of suggestions and proposals.

Finally, there was a brief discussion of possible guests who might come to campus to help the community think about our plans in the context of other trends and developments in higher education. Committee members were also reminded about the importance of allowing our ideas about possible directions to mature and evolve before discussing them widely and openly on campus.

Meeting 3 - Nov. 9, 2018

The third meeting of the committee was held on Nov. 9, and featured a presentation by and discussion with Leah Rosovsky, vice president for strategy and programs at Harvard University.  She began by defining strategy as “envisioning the future” and about deciding “what not to do”. It is hard because there is an incredible array of stakeholders, it is hard to say “no”, and it is hard to predict 10 years into the future. She emphasized the difference between “strategy” and the process of “strategic planning”, suggesting that the latter is viewed through four frames at Harvard:  campaigns; buildings; finances and financial crisis; and presidential priorities. In all of these frames, care is taken to push for clarity around the question of “Why?”

A question was asked about the need for a strategic plan report – a comprehensive, written document of the kind that we have created in previous strategic planning processes at Pomona. The consensus was that this was something we would address in the future, the goal being to see it as part of the overall process of communication with our stakeholders.

Faculty representatives reminded everyone that there would be a Faculty Forum the following week to solicit faculty input on the contents and process of strategic planning.

Additional Past Meetings

  • Dec. 14, 2018: Strategic Planning Steering Committee
  • Jan. 25, 2019: Strategic Planning Steering Committee
  • Feb. 9, 2019: Faculty Retreat on Strategic Planning
  • Feb. 28, 2019: Strategic Planning Steering Committee
  • April 4, 2019: Strategic Planning Steering Committee
  • April 26, 2019: Strategic Planning Steering Committee
  • May 20, 2019: Strategic Planning Steering Committee
  • June 4, 2019: Strategic Planning Steering Committee