NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Board of Directors unanimously approved a strategic plan that has been in development since 2014 and is designed to carry the college through 2022.
“The board is appreciative of the hard work of the Strategic Planning Task Force and is excited about new initiatives on the horizon for the college,” Board Chair Heather Esau Zerger said.
Private colleges in particular are vulnerable in what Bethel President Perry D. White calls “treacherous times in higher education.”
He cited “a tremendous increase in federal regulations, the call to make education more affordablewhile demanding easily assessed and sometimes rather shallow outcomes and, in Bethel’s case, a state thatmay seekto remove tax-exempt status for educational institutions.
“This environment makes it necessary to do aggressive and innovative organizational planning, not only to survive but to thrive.”
Work on the Bethel strategic plan began in 2014 with the selection of Credo Higher Education, a consulting firm that specializes in small, church-affiliated institutions.
Credo staff facilitated the process of collecting the ideas of stakeholder groups (faculty, staff, students, administrative team, alumni, Newton-area leaders and board), helped assess the collected data based on national trends and will continue to guide and monitor, through a software program, the first 14 months of plan implementation.
A Strategic Planning Task Force comprising the president, administrative cabinet, and faculty, staff and student representatives, worked to sort, interpret and re-articulate ideas and suggested initiatives into what White calls “an actionable planning document” that was ultimately presented to the Bethel board during fall meetings Oct. 8-9.
Built on the foundation of Bethel’s mission and values, the plan identifies 20 objectives to achieve four strategic themes: A Thriving College; Vibrant and Vital Campus; A High Impact College; and Dynamic Student Experience. These themes work toward a long-term vision for the college.
Intended to leverage the institution’s strengths and increase Bethel’s impact on the world, the objectives of the plan include, among others, reenergizing partnerships with church and community; expanding mission-driven, high quality academic programs; and growing active learning opportunities in the classroom.
In addition, the first initiatives for reaching each objective under the four themes have been prioritized. Members of the Board encouraged the college to be bold in its implementation of the plan.
“The beauty of this plan is that it represents the vision, hopes and dreams for Bethel from the full spectrum of our constituency,” White said. “Students, staff, faculty, alumni, the greater Newton community leadership and the Board of Directors all contributed equally to the plan through printed documents, meetings and group brainstorming sessions.
“These produced more than 3,000 items for consideration – although there were consistent themes that emerged from each of these groups.”