Acadmic & structural strategic plan amidst this ‘digital revolution’

Daniel Greenman, Contributing Writer

Union College is reputed as a strong liberal arts school which the College looks to futher this emphasis in its new Strategic Plan.

In 2019, school officials are engineering a next step in its academic, financial and structural development. In May, Union sent the campus a Prelude to Strategic Plan and held five “Feedback Forums” to gain input along with the email [email protected]. The paper states that the school in an age of digital revolution must prepare students for “not a single tomorrow… but a series of tomorrows.” A September 6 email to students with the plan’s draft states that it guides the next five years.

President David Harris, who has a chair on the plan’s Executive Committee, says that this generation of the student body has a unique position: That they will have to adapt to change throughout their careers.

“It’s unlikely that you will start a job in one company and work there for 40 years. And even if you do, it is likely that there will be substantial change in what you do and how you do it, given what’s happened with technology, and is continuing to [happen],” Harris said.

The Strategic Plan draft has a list of planned goals, objectives and activities. One of these goals is to provide “some merit aid money to students whose family circumstances make it extremely difficult to afford the parental contribution required by standard formulas.” Another is “to increase the number and diversity of students who select Union.”

The draft also calls for advancing “a renewed vision for Minerva houses, athletics, and Greek life.” Harris mentioned the recent convocation in which, for the first time, first year students grouped in their Minerva houses entered together to sit and listen to the speech. He also stressed the importance of Pre-Orientations: “We’re making [Pre-Os] a fundraising priority so a lot more students are able to do a Pre-Orientation program.”

The Strategic Plan should be finalized around October 4, according to Harris.

In line with the school’s commitment to more modern education, Harris references proposed changes in Union’s General Education requirements. The Preliminary Gen Ed Proposal, released to the faculty on Thursday, proposes an “Experiential and Immersive Learning” requirement to the minimum courses a student takes. It “will be satisfied by a course or analogous experience outside the classroom[…] either at or through Union, on study away, or during the summer” including “some field work and particular types of labs.”

This goes hand-in-hand with the engineering presence at Union: US News states that mechanical engineering was its second most-popular 2018. Union College was the first liberal arts school to integrate engineering into its cirriculum. This step was taken in 1845.