Applications for the Strategic Planning Committee closed on Sunday, Oct. 4. The Committee, spearheaded by the Office of the President and supported by Student Council, will create a plan — picking up from where the 2020 Plan left off — to take the College into its next five years.
The Committee will consist of students, staff, faculty and members of the Board of Trustees. It will outline a list of priorities and specific goals for the College as it enters a new decade and approaches its bicentennial.
According to Student Council Vice President for Student Life Ubongabasi Asuquo ’23, the application process aimed to attract students who may not have previously been involved with Student Council or College planning, but are passionate about improving life on campus. Specifically, applicants were asked what Kenyon would ideally look like to them, and were encouraged to offer potential solutions to problems they identified on campus.
Asuquo predicted that the Committee would be interested in addressing issues such as student mental health services and accessibility, but noted that more specific focuses would emerge following community input. Berklich noted that previous planning committees focused on increasing student internship opportunities and improving access to facilities for low-income students. He expects that the Strategic Planning Committee will pursue similar programs, as well as continuing anti-racism efforts and sustainability initiatives.
Student Council President Bradley Berklich ’22 was pleased with the number of applications the Council received and was optimistic about the new Committee’s ability to reflect student concerns and desires. Berklich hopes that the Committee will be effective in streamlining communication between the student body and the administration.
“If any concerns come up within the student body, I’ll try to convey those to the students we have on [the Committee],” Berklich said.
As for the plan itself, the Committee aims to create an outline to guide priorities and resources for the next five years. President Sean Decatur described it as an opportunity to identify where past committees have been successful, as well as to acknowledge areas where the College can still improve. “It’ll be interesting to hear feedback,” Decatur said. “‘Do we need to do more? Do we need to do some things differently than we thought of before? How do we think about that working?’”
Student Council members also hope to bridge the divide between the student body and College administration, citing perceptions that planning committees often involve the same small number of individuals. To that end, Asuquo explained, the Committee plans to regularly hold open “listening sessions” to encourage community members who are not part of the group to voice concerns and propose solutions. These sessions will also serve to include students who are interested in assisting with planning but are unable to serve on the Committee themselves.
Ultimately, the Committee’s specific goals will become clear as the planning process continues. At this point, Berklich said that the Committee’s broad goal is to identify ongoing issues and create a plan to make the College “a better place” as it prepares to enter its next 200 years.