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Strategic alignment. It’s not the sexi- est of terms, but its importance to an or- ganization as purposefully inclusive in its structure as Skidmore—where everyone can, should, and does have an opinion —cannot be overstated. In such a con- text, strategic alignment occurs when different divisions, and the people who make up those divisions, understand how their work supports larger strategic goals. It requires a common sense of purpose and a shared agreement on the best way (strategy) to marshal the re- sources (alignment) needed to achieve that purpose.

Being strategically aligned means that each of us knows what we are trying to accomplish and how our individual con- tributions advance those goals. Every dollar and hour we invest will generate maximum return. And we can track and assess our progress, because our goals are clearly understood and articulated. These are particularly important out- comes for Skidmore because, as we have said many times before, we are operat- ing in an ever more competitive envi- ronment and, mostly, with significantly fewer resources than our peers. This year is a time of both planning and action, and so it pro- vides a unique oppor- tunity to emphasize strategic alignment. With a new strategic planning process under way, as well as our annual 10-year accreditation review by the Middle States Commission, and with our faculty engaged in a major re- view of our general education curricu- lum, we have spent and will continue to spend considerable time thinking about what we want Skidmore to look like in the immediate future and beyond. At the same time, we are still working to complete key elements of our current Strategic Plan (2005–15) that are critical to our present success and position us for our future. These projects include

the proposed new Center for Integrated Sciences as well as continued invest- ments in our financial aid program, the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, and our “transition and transfor- mation” initiatives—to be supported by a new comprehensive cam- paign.

This “rebuild the plane in flight” dynamic




is part of the normal ebb and flow of an ambitious college such as Skidmore. We obviously can’t stop what we’re doing to plan, but regular planning is neverthe- less essential. I mentioned earlier that Skidmore is a purposefully inclusive community, one that asks all communi- ty members—students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends—to commit equally to the larger enterprise and, having made that commitment, to do their part to advance that mission. But I don’t be- lieve we can ask that of any community member if we don’t give him or her the opportunity to understand and help shape the plan. So, to help frame our work, we have ar- ticulated three broad points of alignment. First, we must contin- ue to strengthen our

increasingly diverse community, ensur- ing that Skidmore is a welcoming and yet challenging space for all. That means continuing to address difficult issues such as bias, sexual assault, and the abuse of drugs and alcohol, as well as creating more opportunities for every- one to engage in the work of building community while sharing in our educa- tional mission. Clearly, we all have a role to play here.

A second key point of alignment is continuing to find ways to live up to our aspiration of being an institution in

which creative thought truly does matter. One area of focus will be creating more opportunities for students to bring their ideas into the world. Experiences such as career or academic internships, research opportunities, and capstone projects not only help deepen stu- dents’ understanding

of the concepts they learn in the class- room, but also play a critical role by in- forming their career choices after gradu- ation. The Skidmore community beyond campus—alumni, parents, and friends —can participate by serving both as sources of such opportunities and as mentors to students as they transition to life after college.

A third objective is extending our investment in the physical and life sci- ences. The most visible aspect of this work is our planning for the new Center for Integrated Sciences, which will allow us to maximize the already considerable investments we’ve made to raise the quality and profile of our science pro- grams. If we aspire (and we do!) to pre- pare our students to be responsible citi- zens and leaders in today’s world, then science must be an integral part of their education, and these investments will enable us to ensure that.

A rowing crew comprises eight indi- viduals who can achieve their goal only by working cohesively and consistently together. We all will undertake many tasks over the coming year. But if we can also pull together as a team to advance the three objectives identified above, we will have gone a long way toward achieving the kind of strategic align- ment we need to maximize every gift we receive, every investment we make, and every hour we spend in service of our mission.



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