November 9, 2009
Dear Campus Community:
I am writing to you today to provide another update on our progress with the Long Range Strategic Plan (LRSP). As you know from the regular emails and letters you receive from Board of Trustees Chair Benjamin Soukup, the board is committed to implementing the LRSP, and this requires the president to make regular reports on our activity. During this period of presidential transition, I am working very closely with the Board of Trustees and with President-Designate Alan Hurwitz to ensure that these implementation plans proceed seamlessly.
Before I continue, I would like to express my amazement with this community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. During the past three years, you have responded to adversity with great resiliency and commitment. Working together, this community addressed the Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation issues and numerous other challenges. I stand in awe of what you accomplished. We must continue this level of commitment as we move forward with the LRSP.
I know many of you on campus have asked why the LRSP is so important and why the Board of Trustees and I believe it is so urgent for Gallaudet. Please let me share my thoughts on the reasons for developing a long range strategic plan and quickly implementing it.
The world is changing rapidly, and this includes higher education. Not all colleges and universities will survive these transformational changes in how higher education is delivered in the coming years. Colleges that adapt and anticipate these changes will emerge stronger.
Our student population is changing. The number of deaf and hard of hearing students continues to shrink. Mainstreamed students now make up 85 percent of our potential applicant pool, and increasingly these students are choosing mainstream colleges for their higher education.
The world of work is evolving faster than ever before. Career choices for our students are changing rapidly and our curriculum must keep pace for us to be competitive in the marketplace.
Our funding will not continue at the same levels from the same sources. For the first time in many years, we face an operating budget deficit at Gallaudet unless we make changes.
Our support is increasingly tied to performance. The government provides 70 percent of our operating budget and, on behalf of the American taxpayers, it is demanding accountability and results, especially related to enrollment, academic quality, and controlling the costs of higher education. Our supporters have been generous and understanding of the changes that Gallaudet has faced the past few years, but there is an expectation that we will significantly increase our enrollment, reduce our costs per graduate, and adapt to a changing population and world of work.
To meet these realities head-on, the LRSP focuses on guiding principles and concrete goals.
To thrive in this challenging environment, we must take proactive steps. Sometimes, this will require tough strategic decisions about adding and deleting some of our curricula offerings, increasing student academic support, and expanding student services—especially as they relate to the support students need to graduate and the career development that will help them succeed beyond Gallaudet. In all of our actions, we must remain accountable to our funders and stakeholders.
I am confident that this community will once again work together under the leadership of our Board of Trustees and Dr. Hurwitz to make these changes and ensure that Gallaudet University survives and thrives to serve future generations of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students. Provost Stephen Weiner, Vice President of Administration and Finance Paul Kelly, and Executive Director of Strategic Planning Richard Lytle have begun visiting departments and key groups to talk about the LRSP and the case for rapid, strategic change. We will all be available for these important meetings in the coming weeks and months.
The trustees, Dr. Hurwitz, and I all recognize the need for change and are very committed to guiding Gallaudet to a bright and bold future through the LRSP. We are also committed to informing the community as we move forward. Please look for weekly updates on the LRSP.
Robert R. Davila
Posted: 10 Nov 2009