Earlham Boldly Investing in Programs, Facilities and People to Ensure the College, its Students and Alumni Continue to Flourish, says President
November 01, 2012
Entering a darkened Goddard Auditorium to the iconic anthem “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent, Earlham President David Dawson spoke to faculty, staff and students in a Halloween afternoon convocation.
Dawson outlined many of the significant changes now happening or planned to begin in the near future on campus, and said that this is because of the College’s decision to invest in maintaining — and strengthening — its position as one of America’s leading national liberal arts colleges. He said that the College is making significant investments in three areas: its educational program, its facilities and its people.
Strategic Planning at Earlham
Dawson explained that the first part of Earlham’s investment strategy was to develop a comprehensive strategic plan. After working for a year on multiple ideas, a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni presented their final plan to the Board of Trustees, who reached an enthusiastic consensus to adopt the plan at their most recent meeting earlier this month.
In their decision to adopt the plan, Dawson said that the choice faced by the Board — and the College — was “will Earlham be content to slide slowly into the ranks of the good but regional ‘teaching’ colleges, where old knowledge is reliably handed down but new knowledge is less frequently pursued” or will the College claim its “rightful place among those national liberal arts colleges in which the teachers naturally expect to be active scholars and rightly expect the institutional support necessary to do this?” The Earlham community has enthusiastically, and not surprsingly, chosen to pursue a path toward continued excellence. The hallmarks of the Earlham experience will continue to be intellectual challenge, global engagement, social concern and justice, and future directed learning.
Earlham’s plan will fashion a new way forward for residential liberal arts colleges by connecting a classical liberal arts education with intentional, multi-year planning by students on their futures.
“We reject the liberal arts/career divide,” said Dawson, “but we don’t reduce the liberal arts to job skill acquisition or allow the liberal arts to become an ivory tower utterly disconnected from the future professions of our graduates. There is another way — a better way — and this is it.”
This plan, he said, “simply makes Earlham better at what it does” and noted that the novel, innovative career counseling that will be an intentional part of the educational focus of an Earlham education will make Earlham “an excellent value — even superior to — its competitor institutions.”
In his 2011 Inaugural Address, Dawson said that the liberal arts must encourage both scholarship and teaching. “In the best liberal arts colleges,” he noted, “teaching keeps scholarship vital and relevant and scholarship keeps teaching on the cutting edge of knowledge discovery rather than simply knowledge transfer. That’s a big part of what we mean when we say Earlham will offer a liberal arts education of the highest quality.”
Dawson has charged a plan implementation committee to ensure that major portions of the plan will be a part of the Earlham curriculum no later than Fall 2014.
Investment in Facilities
Earlham’s investment in its facilities has already begun and Dawson reported that the Board had approved a second phase of the construction projects that are now transforming the campus. At their October meeting, the Board approved funding for construction of additional science facilities immediately following the completion of the Phase 1, the Stanley Hall renovation currently underway.
This second phase will include classrooms and offices for Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science. Also included will be a newly envisioned Science Center for Integrated Learning (SCIL) which will serve as a 21st century collaborative learning space for students and faculty. More details on the various features of the new building will be forthcoming.
Phase 1 is expected to be complete by August 1, 2013 and Phase 2 by August 1, 2015.
Completion of both phases of the Science Complex, the renovation of Tyler Hall, construction of the Visual and Performing Arts Center and completion of the Darrell Beane Stadium field will be accomplished through a combination of gifts and financing. These projects represent more than a $60 million investment in the future of the college.
"Whatever is Required"
“Our decision is to do whatever is required to offer arts and science facilities that enable the forms of pedagogy and scholarship demanded by those disciplines in the 21st century,” said Dawson. “This is a sign of the seriousness with which we regard the quality and integrity of our academic program and the level of our commitment to innovating as the movement of knowledge requires.”
Finally, Dawson expressed his appreciation for and admiration of the faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and friends who support the College’s mission and its vision for excellence in all facets of academic and campus life. “Earlham has a distinct sense of community, and all of its members will play an active role in securing its bright future.”
The moment to begin the investment in this new era for Earlham, he said, concluding his remarks, is “right now.”