The Strategic Investment Initiative has moved into its next stage, according to an email sent to the campus community by President Laurie Carter on Thursday, May 19. The plan has been in the works for months, and now that there has been a plan put forward for how to spend the money, the Board of Trustees has approved the funds.
The planning for the initiative was divided into six working groups, which are Academics, Brand Elevation, Capital & Technology, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Antiracism, Employee Compensation and Recruitment & Retention.
“The Board enthusiastically affirmed our work, allowing us to move forward with this historic investment in Lawrence’s future,” said Carter in the email.
Peter Blitstein, the incoming Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty, who has been selected to fill in for outgoing Provost and Dean of the Faculty Catherine Kodat, said that he will be overseeing the implementation of the academic side of the Strategic Investment Initiative, which will include reforms to the academic advising program.
Associate Professor of Art History Danielle Joyner, who is on the Brand Elevation working group, commented that elevating Lawrence’s image will make a Lawrence degree more meaningful for current, former and future Lawrence students.
Sophomore Anders Hanhan, co-chair of the LUCC Sustainability Committee, who is a member of the Capital & Technology working group, is excited about the initiative. He talked specifically about infrastructure and facilities investments.
“It provides a lot of potential for us to make needed improvements to campus,” said Hanhan.
Vice President for Communication and Marketing Megan Scott said that initiatives such as Brand Elevation and Capital & Technology are already moving forward, while other aspects of the initiative will be implemented over the next three years. She commented that the purpose of the initiative is to improve the student experience, enhance academic programs and make students feel more welcome on campus.
According to Vice President for Finance and Administration Samir Datta, the investments in Capital & Technology were made with accessibility, inclusion and environmental sustainability in mind. Datta named specific projects that will be worked on, including the addition of new windows and bottle fillers in residence halls, a new plumbing system in Sage Hall, new LED lights to replace more energy-intensive lighting, upgrades to technology in labs and classrooms, new athletic facilities, the sealing of water leaks in Steitz and Shattuck Halls and maintenance that’s been deferred at Lawrence.
According to Scott, student salaries will be enhanced as part of the Employee Compensation aspect of the initiative. She also promised that there will be more robust Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism training as well as a comprehensive review of the Office of Student Life.
Scott added that the Drew Street Bridge will be replaced over the summer, as well as many of the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) and electrical systems on campus. Scott also discussed the ways in which the Strategic Investment Initiative will help to address Lawrence’s retention problems. She mentioned the EAB Navigate system, which she says will help to streamline and improve communication, identify students who need academic help and provide data that will identify specific populations of students that aren’t being retained so that Lawrence can provide targeted support. She also discussed the First-Year Experience (FYE) program, which she says will help to guide incoming students through the transition from high school to college and build a strong community on campus.
To read another Lawrentian story on the Strategic Investment Initiative, click here.