Lawrence University is proposing a series of one-time investments, known as the Strategic Investment Proposal, which aims to address issues with enrollment, student life and campus finances.
According to Christyn Abaray, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees and Chief of Staff to President Laurie Carter, the Board of Trustees decided in October that there needed to be strategic investment to help address those long-standing issues. The board then selected a handful of trustees to collaborate with the President’s Cabinet on the initiative, with a deadline of Winter Term 2022 for a specific proposal which will go public in early Spring Term at LUCC General Council. According to LUCC President-elect Malcolm Davis, the final investment plan will be presented to the Board in May.
According to Abaray, the investments will include expanded academic programs, initiatives to address enrollment and retention problems, programs to support underprivileged students on campus and infrastructure improvements for campus buildings. Some specific examples Abaray provided include expanded internship and research opportunities and investments in the Career Center, although the majority of the details still remain confidential.
The Strategic Investment Proposal has been a collaborative effort, coordinating with the President’s five Guiding Coalitions, which were formed by Carter at the beginning of the academic year to address various institutional priorities.
The cabinet has also been working with the Strategic and Equitable Enrollment Management (SEEM) team, which is tasked with growing incoming student applications and helping students succeed through graduation. The Strategic Planning Committee, which reconvenes every few years to plan for Lawrence’s future, is also playing a role. The current strategic plan ran from 2017 through 2022, so this year, they will be releasing a new five-year plan. LUCC President-elect Malcolm Davis has also been discussing the proposal with Carter in order to assist in presenting the investment plan to the student body at General Council.
“The entire investment plan is created through a lens of helping students,” Davis said. “This plan will position Lawrence in the future as a leader in higher education. It will generate strength for the institution, which will be of benefit to all students.”
These specific investments became an immediate priority, Abaray said, after the Fall 2021 Board of Trustees meeting, in which data involving finances, enrollment and students’ experiences on campus raised issues such as applications trending downward and poor building maintenance.
Carter said that the proposal is focused on improving campus life for students, as well as faculty and staff, who will benefit from investments such as enhanced academic programs, funding for internships and research programs, more resources for student support and infrastructure improvements. According to Abaray, this ties back to Carter’s Matriculation Convocation, in which she expressed a desire to create a student-centered approach at Lawrence University.
According to Abaray, the President’s Cabinet is currently working with students to share information, formulate specific plans, establish a clear timeline to implement the proposals and evaluate key performance indicators on whether the investments are working. Abaray said that some of the key performance indicators will include rising application numbers, improvements in the retention rate and an increase in BIPOC students.