Innovative, Nimble, Adaptive: THE MEASURE OF SWEET BRIAR WOMEN, THE COLLEGE, AND OUR FUTURE Sweet Briar alumnae know how to get the job done. The capacity to meet a challenge, to change and adapt to new situations, retool as needed, and seize opportunities with courage and savvy have always been the signature traits of a Sweet Briar woman. Now more than ever, young women must be prepared to reinvent themselves throughout their lives and adjust to a global landscape in ever more rapid flux. A Sweet Briar education must tap each student’s individual passions and talents in such a way that she becomes a ready learner throughout her lifetime, a nimble thinker, an able problem solver, and an innovative leader who offers her gifts to the world where they will have the most impact. These 21st century demands call us to examine Sweet Briar College in this light. We must reinvent the College to meet certain new needs of our students--their hands-on learning styles, their expectations for first-rate technology, and their global curiosities. As an institution, we will be no less versatile and innovative than our students. In short, we will adapt how this institution operates in several crucial ways. Already the President and Board of Trustees have begun to make necessary adjustments to our business model, trimming expenses and adjusting the size of our faculty to the needs of the student body. Though some of these have been painful, they are essential to the preservation and enhancement of our longstanding strengths. Going forward in such a competitive environment among
CHANGE IS TIMELESS. CONSIDER THE SWEET BRIAR STUDENT IN THE CLASS OF 2015. Hers is the first generation for which the Internet has always been available. She has had the world at her fingertips every moment, even as a toddler playing games and making art on a computer screen. In grade school, she could look up a word’s definition or the details of an historical event in an instant. Her teen years brought Facebook—a virtual means to meet friends, gossip, or get organized behind a worthy cause. Now she uses her cell phone, not a wristwatch, to tell time. She never learned to write in a cursive hand, other than signing her name. She spurns e-mail; it is too slow. Instead she prefers texting or Tweeting. She can make a video one minute and send it around the world in the next. As this young woman looks ahead to the world of work beyond college or graduate school, her role models are boundless and ever changing. Women serve on the Supreme Court, command Navy ships, and are Anglican priests. Tomorrow there will be possibilities that are now beyond her imagination. This is the young woman we will serve at Sweet Briar going forward. Like alumnae before her, to succeed in the life ahead of her she must develop the skills and know-how to be innovative, nimble, adaptive. She will need the courage and ability to reinvent herself in order to thrive in new and changing environments.
colleges recruiting for diminishing numbers of students, it is crucial that we build up our endowment for scholarships and financial aid. Endowment resources are also the best way for us to implement curricular innovations and seed new entrepreneurial projects. At the same time, we must make incremental increases to enrollment to meet our residential capacity without changing the intimacy of the Sweet Briar experience. We will also identify new revenue streams by putting our physical and intellectual resources to work to serve the communities around us. And finally, Sweet Briar must also make some strategic investments across campus--some overdue and some specifically designed to magnify our strengths. With funding from alumnae, friends, and longtime supporters, we have set our sights on being nothing less than one of the most dynamic, engaged, and innovative women’s colleges in the country. We hope you will join us on this journey.
Among the pivotal investments ahead are:
TEACHING, LEARNING AND INNOVATION Sustaining our academic excellence requires that Sweet Briar faculty adjust their understanding of how young people learn and embrace ongoing developments in digital technology. A new Fund for Educational Excellence and Innovation will underwrite fresh approaches created by individual faculty and will be designed to maximize student/faculty collaboration. The Fund will support:
cross-curriculum planning and interdisciplinary teaching;
supply professional development expenses for faculty redesigning a course or a program;
provide hiring incentives to attract stellar faculty candidates; and
enhance salaries in a faculty "fellows” program. To support the initiative, among other investments the College will add two endowed
positions: a cabinet-level information officer who will lead and manage improvements and innovations in campus information infrastructure; and a digital pedagogue--an instructional technologist who will lead faculty development in the use of digital media for innovative teaching.
RECRUITING THE BEST STUDENTS TO THE COLLEGE Helping young women learn to navigate the complexity of our pluralistic society requires that our student body reflect that society. Today, the majority of Sweet Briar students receive financial aid, but scholarships, which reward individual merit and minimize student indebtedness, will give
us a special edge in recruiting the ideal combination of young women who will be best served by our offerings. Sweet Briar must add endowed scholarships for students in our signature academic programs in business, the creative arts, the sciences and engineering, government, international affairs, and public policy studies, and environmental and outdoor studies. Scholarships not only provide access to a Sweet Briar education for those who could not otherwise afford it; they also help make the College competitive for especially gifted students. Scholarships for academically dedicated students, international students, first-generation students, and students from underrepresented communities are a priority. Given the variety of young women we seek, Sweet Briar must broaden the reach of our recruitment and messaging to increase visibility for the College with both traditional and new populations of students and families. Funds for research, data analysis, and creative print, electronic, and social media to deliver our message are essential in attracting the best students to Sweet Briar.
CAMPUS ENTERPRISE AND OUTREACH Even as the College has begun to reduce expenses and realign our faculty resources, we want to ignite a spirit of sustainable innovation, educational outreach and experiential learning campus wide. A new Entrepreneurial Educator Fund will provide seed funding for Sweet Briar faculty and staff to launch innovative educational programs for new populations of learners as well as partnerships with local businesses and organizations to enhance student experiential learning opportunities. We envision faculty innovators developing revenue-generating programs that will bring learners to campus who are not enrolled for an undergraduate degree, including high school students, alumnae and other adult learners, retirees, and corporate education programs. Other projects will develop and deepen Sweet Briarâ€™s relationships with regional businesses and industry, creating both research and experiential learning opportunities for students. These efforts will be led and overseen by a Director of Educational Outreach. In addition to teaching in the business program, the director will serve as a resource to faculty and staff in developing and implementing these outreach initiatives and as a liaison to the business community.
PRESERVING AND ADAPTING OUR CAMPUS The campus is one of Sweet Briar’s most highly cherished assets. Maintaining it and preserving its historical nature, while adapting it to the needs of today’s students, is costly. Sweet Briar’s priority is investment in existing structures, completing preservation and renovation projects that will preserve the historic buildings while increasing their flexibility and usefulness. Sweet Briar also recognizes that sustainability and energy efficiency are central values, as is access for those with physical challenges.
“In many ways, constancy is an illusion. After all, our ancestors were immigrants, many of them moving on every few years; today we are migrants in time. Unless teachers can hold up a model of lifelong learning and adaptation, graduates are likely to find themselves trapped into obsolescence as the world changes around them. Our children are unlikely to be able to define their goals and then live happily ever after. Instead they will need to reinvent themselves again and again in response to a changing environment.” --Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life