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Strategy Update, Fall 2021

To the Campus Community,

I write with an update on the strategic planning process for the 2021-2022 academic year. On June 29, 2021, the Board of Trustees approved the engagement of Tyton Partners to help the college with the development of a new strategy. A nationally recognized strategy group with extensive experience in higher education, Tyton will work with a core group of faculty, staff, cabinet, and board members to help identify a vibrant and sustainable future path for the college. Below I outline the process and invite the campus community to contribute to discussions this fall.

As background, you will recall that TCNJ embarked on a college-wide strategy effort in Fall 2020, a second phase of strategy preparation that followed pre-pandemic conversations in early 2020. Under the auspices of the Committee on Strategic Planning and Priorities (CSPP), the college community participated in 39 focus groups involving nearly 300 students and members of the faculty, staff, board, alumni, and regional community. With many thanks to all those who volunteered and participated, CSPP distributed a summary of the focus group feedback to the campus in March 2021. The summary can be found here.

The feedback revealed significant consensus on a number of key themes and considerations for moving forward. By early 2021, however, it became clear that many of the pre-pandemic assumptions the college had made were no longer certain. Rather than proceeding, the college and Board of Trustees determined that a comprehensive, externally led analysis of additional regional and national data about TCNJ’s position in higher education’s Covid/post-Covid landscape would be invaluable as the college considered its options for the future. We then paused the strategy process to secure a strategy consulting partner.

Tyton Partners brings to TCNJ a national sounding board, evidence-based perspectives, and experience working with such institutions as Middlebury College, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Illinois. In preparation this summer for their consultancy to formally begin in September, Tyton has been reviewing the focus group reports and other materials on TCNJ, and readying for interviews and conversations with stakeholders this month.

Tyton’s approach in partnering with colleges and universities is to work directly with a “Strategy Working Group,” in TCNJ’s case a fifteen-member team composed of eleven members of the campus community (four faculty members, four cabinet members, two staff members, and one student) and four board members. In consultation with the leadership of the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government, CSPP, and Board of Trustees, I have appointed the people listed below to serve on the Strategy Working Group. I am pleased to note that Professor David Blake, Co-Chair of the CSPP, has agreed to serve as chair of the team.

David Blake, Working Group Chair (Faculty, CSPP)
Robert Altman (Board)
Sharon Blanton (Cabinet)
David Bwire (Faculty)
Seung Hee Choi (Faculty)
Jana Gevertz (Faculty, CSPP)
Carl Gibbs (Board)
Rajashekar Manimaran (Staff)
Grecia Montero (Staff)
Jeffrey Osborn (Cabinet, CSPP)
Rebecca Ostrov (Board)
Lloyd Ricketts (Cabinet, CSPP)
Roshni Raji (Student, CSPP)
Sean Stallings (Cabinet, CSPP)
Treby Williams (Board)

I will serve as executive sponsor for this effort. Heather Fehn, Chief of Staff, will be the project manager for TCNJ.

Over the next five months (September 2021-February 2022), there will be multiple opportunities for feedback from all stakeholder groups of the college community. These include campus-wide sessions presented by the Tyton team and/or the Strategy Working Group in late-September, November, and late-January/early-February. We encourage you to also attend the public workshop on strategy scheduled with the Board of Trustees at its October 26 meeting. Details on time and place for these opportunities will come in future correspondence.

In addition, through campus-wide sessions and other channels, the Strategy Working Group will regularly consult with CSPP, Student Government, and the Faculty and Staff Senates as it focuses on the strategy development stage of the effort this year. Moving forward, CSPP will have the central role in overseeing implementation and monitoring of the college’s new strategy. This will include reviewing annual strategic action plans, monitoring progress on priorities and goals, and ensuring that strategic work of divisions and schools is aligned with that of the college.

We are enthusiastic about the strategy conversations and look forward to your continued interest and participation in the months to come.

With thanks and anticipation,

Digital copy of Kathryn A. Foster's signature.

Kathryn A. Foster