At the “Strategic Planning Town Hall Meeting” on Oct. 2, there was an open floor for discussion about the priorities and aspirations that will guide Baruch College for the next five years. The Strategic Plan, which will be in place by the end of the year, will reflect all of Baruch’s community. It will be spearheaded by Baruch President Mitchel B. Wallerstein, college faculty and the outside consulting firm Keeling & Associates. The plan will course the college’s direction from 2018 to 2023.
Phase I of the plan will continue through December 2017 and is called “Engagement, Gathering Information & Planning Themes.” All faculty, staff and students were invited to participate and share their ideas and suggestions, during the meeting, the first of four campus meetings during Phase I. However, while the room was packed with faculty and staff, only one student, the writer of this article, was present.
After introducing the plan, Wallerstein left the room to allow for open engagement. Leading the discussion was Dr. Richard Keeling of Keeling & Associates.
The three ideas that he focused on were preservation, change and ambitions. Though the start was slow, many ideas were eventually proposed, with almost all proposals receiving consensus from the faculty in attendance.
By beginning with what everyone wanted to preserve about Baruch, many of the college’s good values were brought up. A wide majority that agreed Baruch needed to preserve the accessibility to higher education, social mobility and a return on investment it offered to lower income families and students. There was also talk regarding the high number of first generation and immigrant students at Baruch, and how to continue increasing the diverse community
Someone pointed out that Baruch provides programs, such as SEEK and the honors programs, that meet each student’s individual skill level, allowing all students to grow and face challenges. Not only do these specialized skill programs need to be retained, but so does the well-rounded education Baruch students receive even with the college being known mostly as a business school.
The discussion moved on to what everyone wanted to see Baruch do differently. More than once, the meeting’s attendees brought up that space was an issue and so was support. By support, they meant more staff was needed in some departments. Increased funding was mentioned, especially for the big population of students going through mental health issues. An expansion of services was asked for the graduate students at Baruch, who often come to night classes and are in school after most offices have closed for the day.
With a growing number of people giving their suggestions, time was quickly running out and the discussion moved on to the third goal of the Strategic Plan, which was implementing a blueprint that will introduce new achievable goals. The first suggestion for this part was to have no more renovations and construction. Moving on, others offered ideas such as enhancing the tenure program, achieving university status, strengthening faculty communication and retaining and hiring good faculty members.
For the Strategic Plan, there will be many more meetings, including Phase II and Phase III. The plan will be implemented by May 2018.