Larry Goodwin, president of the College of St. Scholastica, gave his mid-year address shortly after holiday break ended.
He described the speech as a "laundry list" in order to review the past year and look forward into the future.
Goodwin built the speech around the five strategic priorities of CSS: Mission, quality, diversity/inclusivity, stewardship, and innovation.
A large importance has been placed on the priority of Mission because, according to Goodwin, "the Higher Learning Commission is requiring an important monitoring report in three years."
The required report must show a means in which the college can effectively measure and monitor how the mission is being carried out. "We need to show that we have developed meaningful assessment measures of our five learning outcomes," Goodwin stated.
In order to satisfy the learning outcome of heritage-the understanding of Catholic intellectual tradition or to "broaden students literacy of the Catholic tradition"-several alterations in faculty and curriculum have been made.
First, a revision of the Dignitas program for first year students has been implemented this academic year.
Additionally, both a Catholic moral theologian and a Catholic priest (reportedly a CSS alumnus) were recently hired.
Nonetheless, the college is still searching for a new director of Catholic Studies and a new Catholic philosopher.
On top of these efforts, Goodwin says he encourages students and faculty to read Catholic social teaching specific to their disciplines.
But the commitment to Catholic Benedictine traditions must also be coupled with a commitment to serving a pluralistic community, Goodwin implied as he spent a considerable time on the issue.
Goodwin noted the creation of a new taskforce called the Catholic Vision and Inclusion Team. The goal of this group-made up of faculty and staff-is "to show why we want to become a more diverse and inclusive community, not despite that fact that we are Catholic, but precisely because we are Catholic." Their findings will be released in a report by the end of the semester, but will have "regular updates on the COR portal."
He also praised Pope Francis for his commitment to the impoverished and his inclusivity of other religions, using the washing of the feet of a Muslim as an example.
Goodwin placed an emphasis not on beliefs, but for the care of one another as a mission for the Catholic school.
The strategic priority of Quality was addressed next.
President Barack Obama's administration recently revealed a new "score card" for colleges, relying heavily on financial and graduation rates to form its rankings.
Goodwin seemed to denounce this because "education is about building a life as well as building a career," he said.
For this reason, St. Scholastica is now one of ten Minnesota schools participating in an ACC&U assessment in hopes of changing "what counts as primary evidence when it comes to assessing collegiate learning."
An emphasis will be placed not on standard test scores but instead include a multitude of other experiences such as projects, service learning, and internships to name a few. Goodwin celebrated the movement away from standardized tests.
Athletics is an aspect to overall school quality, said Goodwin, excellence in athletics is "consistent with our mission and values."
Goodwin celebrated the performances of Chelsea Johnson, Division Three National Cross Country Champion; Nina Wiadacher, member of the CSS and Swiss Olympic hockey teams; and the four football players on the academic all-American team, which is more than any other college, he noted.
Then Goodwin again stressed the importance of Diversity/Inclusivity, referring to it as "mission-critical" as well as condemning racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Goodwin brought attention to the functional influence of having more students of color: "if we are going maintain market share, we going to have to become a more diverse community."
Several statistics showing progress in CSS diversity were shared: Between 2005 and 2013 the retention rate of students of color was 70-82%, in the last 2 years the retention rates of first year students of color reached that of their Caucasian peers, and fall 2013 data shows first students were greatly exposed to diversity.
Future diversity training for faculty and staff will be offered and is encouraged.
As Goodwin moved to Stewardship, the focus was brought to enrollment numbers and expansion projects.
Spring numbers for undergraduate traditional students will come in slightly under budget but non-traditional and online "will certainly meet budget" or even exceed. Goodwin partially attributed this to the shift to non-traditional and online means of education.
In order to boost recruitment, St. Scholastica enlisted the help from Royal Company to increase the amount of students who "inquire and apply" to CSS. Preliminary data shows there has been twice as many inquiries and applications compared to last year at that time as a result of these efforts.
Goodwin addressed the building project at the BlueStone site. He hopes it will serve the new physician's assistant program as well as the existing PT and OT programs.
The building project collaborated with a 501 to build the structure that the college will then lease from the company they created. This, according to Goodwin, will keep the bonding available for other projects.
A comprehensive capital campaign recently ensued, which Goodwin referred to as the "Campaign for the Second Century."
A Chicago company is developing a two to three page impact statement to share with 40-50 prospective donors in order to gauge what their particular interests are.
The campaign would then enter a "silence phase" that could last two to three years until 75-80% of goal is raised. Going public would be the next step, possibly causing the largest donors to contribute.
Innovation was the last, and most brief, Strategic Priority addressed. This was largely due to the fact that it is the newest priority, introduced recently by the board of trustees.
Topics under this priority include technology and the need to solidify how the college plans to align its reward and incentive program.
Goodwin closed the mid-year address by thanking faculty and staff for their work.
The full speech is available for viewing on the COR homepage.