By Jeff Abernathy
Alma College President
Over the past year, we faced many challenges as a campus community. In this issue of the Tartan, we will share stories of hope and triumph as we look back on what we have accomplished together.
As we look to soon emerge from a global pandemic, there are still many questions about the future of higher education and the challenges that lie ahead. Never has an Alma education — which prepares graduates to think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly — been more critical in our world. In a time of so much uncertainty, it is critical that we also think about the future of our college.
We need to ensure that we chart a clear path forward to provide a vision and direction for our college and community. In October, we announced a new strategic plan, “Evergreen: A Dynamic Plan for Alma College.” Evergreen is the successor to Vision 2020, which was established five years ago. Vision 2020 resulted in several new achievements, including new academic programs and increased student diversity on campus, stronger relationships with the community and improvements in recruitment and retention.
Unlike past strategic plans, Evergreen allows flexibility and agility to mold the plan as needed over time. Each year, we will align this dynamic plan for Alma College to meet the needs of the college, the campus community, the greater Alma community, and an ever-changing world. Regular renewal of this plan allows us to have a clear direction and focus on our shared priorities and goals as an institution. We will annually review and revitalize Evergreen so that it continues to provide a framework for the college to thrive in the years to come.
The strategic planning process brought together many from our campus community — more than 400 students, faculty, staff and community members participated in the process. The work of this group, feedback from campus meetings and open forums, the previous good work of groups like the taskforce on institutional distinctions, and cabinet leadership led to the development of the themes that outline Evergreen. Additional campus conversations on the themes developed into goals and metrics, and the president’s cabinet met to synthesize ideas, determine goals, and set accountability measures. In all, there were more than 1,000 engagements by student, faculty and staff in over 20 strategic planning discussions on and off campus.
Evergreen’s themes — Purpose and Place, Creating a Just, Supportive and Inclusive Community, New Programs and Innovation, Experiential Learning, and Financial Vitality — provide the guiding framework for our work as a college and community. Evergreen establishes our vision of Alma College as a place where every student experiences a deeply interdisciplinary education with ample opportunity for self-reflection, hands-on learning, and personal and professional development. We’re cognizant of our location, here in Alma, Michigan, and seek to be citizens of this place and to better our community and our region as a whole. We commit to making Alma College a more diverse, inclusive and just community than we are today.
This year, we saw that the Alma College community can adapt and thrive when we work together. The Evergreen plan embraces the need for agility and creativity in the face of an ever-changing world. I’m proud of all we have and will continue to accomplish together, and I am grateful for your continued support.