President’s Charge to the Committee

Date: September 21, 2016
To: Members of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee
From: President Kerry Walk
Re: Charge to the Committee

Marymount Manhattan College has its origins as a “city branch” of Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York.  As an urban extension of a traditional liberal arts college, Marymount in Manhattan was intended to be a different kind of college—not isolated from the world, but a part of it; not removed from the city, but deeply embedded in it.  Eighty years later, as a growing number of small liberal arts colleges across the country struggle to survive, MMC is well positioned to thrive—indeed, to serve as a national model of a small college that synergistically blends liberal arts education with professional preparation and social engagement in the rich mosaic of an urban environment.  As a college community, we must seize this moment to propel MMC into the next decade.  Our roadmap will be an Institutional Strategic Plan, developed through a transparent, inclusive, and dynamic planning process.

Strategic Planning Steering Committee Membership

A Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) has been established to lead the strategic planning process and develop the Institutional Strategic Plan.  The SPSC consists of the following faculty and staff members, one of whom is the elected Faculty Council President and three of whom were elected by the Faculty Council specifically to serve on the committee (as noted):

  • Katie LeBesco, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the Faculty (Co-Chair)
  • Jill Stevenson, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and President of the Faculty Council (Co-Chair)
  • Ann Aguanno, Professor of Biology (elected)
  • Jennifer Brown, Associate Professor of English and World Literatures and Chair of the English and World Literatures Department (elected)
  • Christine Gregory, Assistant Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Diversity, and Title IX
  • Andreas Hernandez, Assistant Professor and Chair, Department of International Studies
  • Ann Jablon, Professor and Chair, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Carol Jackson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
  • Nancy Lushington, Assistant Professor of Dance (elected)
  • Richard Sheldon, Assistant Vice President for Academic Administration
  • Erica Stein, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Arts
  • Diana Zambrotta, Director of Auxiliary and Real Estate Services

The Charge

I charge the Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) to develop an Institutional Strategic Plan that sets priorities and guides decisions regarding the allocation of resources from AY18 through AY21 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2021).  Specifically, I charge the SPSC to develop a plan that focuses on the following:

  1. Highly differentiates the academic program and co-curriculum in alignment with a competitive and complex higher education landscape in order to foster both educational excellence and financial sustainability.
  2. Significantly enhances the student experience along all axes—college access and affordability, the campus climate, student support, the physical environment, administrative and operational services, and so on—in order to ensure optimal conditions for student learning and success, as measured in part by student persistence and completion, and by student and alumni outcomes.
  3. Establishes a long-term Strategic Enrollment Plan (SEP), developed in consultation with Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL), which has effectively partnered with MMC over the last three years.  The SEP process will be fully integrated with the larger institutional strategic planning effort.  According to RNL, the SEP process will:
    1. Align enrollment strategies with the College mission, current state, and the changing environment,
    2. Adopt a return-on-investment (ROI) and action-item approach to planning,
    3. Establish realistic, quantifiable enrollment goals, and
    4. Foster predictable long-term enrollment and fiscal health. 
  4. Maximizes the value of MMC’s human resources and advances the College’s stated commitment to diversity and inclusion in order to strengthen and sustain the campus community.
  5. Establishes mechanisms for continuous strategic planning and institutional effectiveneness.

The SPSC should take as given that the new plan will be firmly grounded in the College mission and will build on, rather than roll back elements of, the 2013 – 2017 Strategic Plan.  The SPSC should also assume that the forward motion of the College will continue during the strategic planning process.  Among the priorities on which progress will be made during this planning year are CityEdge, the College’s recently launched college-to-career initiative, which immerses students in New York City’s learning and career landscape; 71 st Street U, education programs for adult learners and pre-college students; a Mellon Foundation-funded initiative to provide faculty development in innovative pedagogies; exploration of new revenue streams and facilities solutions; and uncompleted goals in the 2013 – 2017 Strategic Plan.  Finally, the SPSC should assume that other planning processes, such as fundraising planning and campus planning,  will overlap with or follow the development of a new strategic plan.

The SPSC and/or the SPSC Co-Chairs will confer regularly with the President to discuss and, as necessary, adjust the direction of strategic planning.  The Board of Trustees, which oversees the mission, fiscal integrity, and educational quality of the College, will play an integral role in strategic planning through board meetings, board committee meetings, and other key intersections with the process.

In carrying out its charge, the SPSC should work in the best interests of the College as a whole, with pragmatic awareness of MMC’s resource constraints, deep knowledge of the College’s institutional profile, and sensitivity to the higher education environment.

Strategic Planning Principles and Outcomes

The SPSC’s leadership effort will be guided by the following principles for strategic planning and its outcomes:

  1. The process of developing the Strategic Plan should be transparent, inclusive of all stakeholders, and based on a foundation of knowledge about MMC within the context of trends and challenges in higher education. 
  2. The SPSC should provide regular updates to the MMC community on strategic planning.
  3. The outcome of strategic planning should be an action plan with five to seven specific goals and related metrics.
  4. Implementation of the Institutional Strategic Plan should be dynamic and responsive to a quickly changing environment in higher education.
  5. Oversight of the implementation of the plan should be clearly defined, and progress shared with all stakeholders.


Review and approval by the College’s governance bodies is expected to take place on the following timeline:

  • Review and approval by the Faculty Council at its April 17, 2017, meeting;
  • Review and approval by the President by April 24, 2017; and
  • Review and approval by the Board of Trustees at its Annual Meeting on May 9, 2017. 

The 2018 - 2021 Strategic Plan is expected to take effect on July 1, 2017, but, in the event of a change in the timeline, the new plan must take effect no later than January 1, 2018.

In closing, I extend my sincere gratitude to the SPSC for their leadership in this critical endeavor.  I also express my appreciation to the members of the MMC community for participating in a process that will chart the College’s course for years to come.