W&L’s New Strategic Plan Focuses on Community, Curriculum, Citizenship and Campus
Washington and Lee University’s Board of Trustees adopted a new strategic plan for the university at its meeting on Saturday, May 12. The plan calls for the university to create a more diverse and inclusive community, to build upon and strengthen W&L’s distinctive curricular structure, to continue to emphasize the institution’s historic goal of cultivating engaged citizenship, and to develop several new facilities while enhancing existing ones in support of the university’s mission.
“We are justifiably proud of our distinctions, but never complacent,” the plan’s introduction states. “One of our most enduring strengths is the spirit encapsulated in our motto: non incautus futuri — not unmindful of the future — which reflects our commitment to self-examination, to asking how we can be true to ourselves while also getting better, to asking how we can contribute even more to the world that awaits our students.”
The strategic plan is the result of a more than a year of campus self-study initiated by university President William C. Dudley and co-chaired by Provost Marc Conner and Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sidney Evans, who led the effort that included faculty, staff, students, trustees and alumni.
“On behalf of the trustees, I want to thank everyone for their exceptional work on this plan,” said J. Donald Childress, rector of the board and a 1970 W&L graduate. “The university has made remarkable strides over the past decade. We never want to rest on our laurels, and this ambitious and thoughtful plan will continue to push us forward.”
Dudley referred to the plan’s four organizing themes: community, curriculum, citizenship and campus. “Our community of trust and civility, our distinctive curriculum, our commitment to institutional citizenship for the benefit of society, and our beautiful and historic campus are a potent educational combination,” Dudley said. “The plan outlines how W&L will continue to build upon these strengths to provide the best possible liberal arts education to talented students who embody the qualities of personal integrity, leadership and academic excellence.”
The plan’s commitment to community includes working to increase the racial, socioeconomic, and international diversity of students, faculty and staff while supporting the success of all community members. W&L will commit to need-blind undergraduate admissions, which means the university will admit the strongest applicants regardless of family financial circumstances. In addition, the plan calls for eliminating financial barriers to curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular participation. Additional resources will be made available to the offices of Inclusion and Engagement, Student Health and Counseling, and Career and Professional Development; athletic and recreational opportunities will be augmented; and opportunities will be increased for personal and professional development for faculty and staff. W&L will add a women’s varsity softball team, and The School of Law will develop a signature scholarship program.
“Creating a more diverse community at W&L is also essential to fulfilling our stated mission of preparing students for personal achievement, responsible leadership and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society. The 21st century calls upon all of us to appreciate the value of diverse experiences, and to discover and create ways to draw upon our differences for the common good.”
~ 2018 Strategic Plan
W&L’s distinctive curriculum, which combines the liberal arts, pre-professional education and public service, is another focus of strategic initiatives. The university will invest in its liberal arts curriculum while supporting 21st-century science teaching and research needs, strengthening interdisciplinary education, and expanding offerings for non-majors in the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. The plan also calls for the development of an undergraduate legal studies program.
“We must continue to invest in traditional disciplines, while also embracing the 21st century evolution of liberal education, which involves interdisciplinary inquiry, new modes of teaching, and rapidly changing technology. Doing so is critical to maintaining our position as one of the preeminent institutions of higher education in the country.”
~ 2018 Strategic Plan
The third theme of the strategic plan focuses on institutional citizenship, including initiatives focused on leadership, service and civic engagement, institutional history, and environmental stewardship. The plan calls for investment in curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular programs that encourage students to engage, to serve and to lead; the exploration of partnerships with related museums and historical sites; and continued commitment to sustainability across the campus.
“The cultivation of engaged citizenship is essential to our mission. We aim to help students become not only personally successful, but also thoughtful difference makers in their communities. Washington and Lee asks no less of itself institutionally.”
~ 2018 Strategic Plan
Several facilities projects are included in the plan as elements of maintaining and enhancing the quality of the university’s historic campus. These include construction of a new center for the Offices of Admission and Financial Aid; expansion and revitalization of both the existing Science Center and the Williams School; the addition of rehearsal spaces for music and the arts; development of a Center for Academic Resources and Pedagogical Excellence (CARPE) in Leyburn Library; the creation of a Center for Inclusion and Engagement in Elrod Commons; and the initiation of modern campus history museum.
“Our residence halls, dining facilities, classrooms, labs, libraries and performance spaces constitute an environment in which we strive to offer education of the highest caliber. Our natural and historic setting, which distinguishes W&L from other colleges and universities, should be presented in ways that make its appeal evident to prospective members of the community.”~ 2018 Strategic Plan
The new plan builds on the success of the previous strategic plan, which was a blueprint for the university’s transformative, $542-million “Honor Our Past, Build Our Future” capital campaign, completed in 2015.
“We see the results of that plan all around us,” said Dudley in a message to the university community. “Even as we embark on the final initiative of that previous plan — the construction of The Richard L. Duchossois Center for Athletics and Recreation, which will begin in a few short weeks — it is time to look forward. I am grateful to all of the people on campus and around the world who shared their input during the planning process. The result is a bold vision for the university that will build on our strengths and on the momentum of the past decade to ensure the bright future of W&L.”
For information on the University Strategic Planning Initiative, see go.wlu.edu/strategic-plan.