As we conclude our 40th anniversary year, it’s a good moment to take stock of the state of the University. The significant changes of the last several months allow us to re-evaluate our assumptions from the time the University was founded in 2009 and will reinvigorate our approach to the New Directions of the future.
The changes can, on the one hand, be described simply: we evolved from a University with three Colleges to one with four Schools. But, in terms of the additional structural aspects of our nascent transformation, we have changed more than nomenclature (colleges to schools) and number (3 to 4).
As a business decision, we ended positions (Deans and Associate Deans) that were of significant expense. Replacing those leaders with academic School Chairs, aided by administrative personnel, allows us to move forward with nimbleness, innovation and excellence. Of course we regret the departure of the individuals who filled the terminated positions, but we are confident that the new, more focused, more defined administrative units will create room for growth.
And grow we must. With 500-600 students, the University is about half the size it should be to provide optimal learning environments and curricular/faculty options. Our recently enacted Strategic Agenda, to be implemented over the next four years, provides the guiding framework to begin a slow but steady process of growth in current programs and by the addition of new programs.
I would be less than honest if I failed to mention that the University faces many challenges in the near future. In that circumstance, we are like the rest of higher education in the United States. Thus Saybrook is not alone in its current alterations and need for clever approaches to a new higher education environment. But we are different as well.
Our difference from some of our brethren and sistren institutions is that we are comfortable in our skin: we do not wish to change for the sake of change, grow for the sake of growth, or survive just to survive. We believe in what we have been and are now for our first forty years. We intend to build on that integrity and purpose for our next forty.
Thus I look forward with both hope and disquiet as we begin our 41st year, and I hope you share my hope, though I’d not mind if your concern is less than mine! Because we believe in and work with one another, there is every reason to feel confident about our future. It will be, as it always has been, a bit of a roller coaster of a journey. I must say I am happy that you are all along for the ride.
— Mark Schulman