By Greg Abazorius
Photos by Caitlin Cunningham

Success. Serious. Interactive. Boston. Static. Co-op. Tough-grading. Mentors.

Wentworth leadership invited constructive feedback this fall when they asked community members to share how they might advance things at the university. The word associations above come courtesy of an immersion activity with Wentworth students.

Several workshops related to creating a new strategic plan were held during Opening Days in September with faculty. A student workshop (pictured here) later in the month found improving the website, increasing campus events on weekends, providing more contact options for faculty, and opening up office hours with financial services experts among ideas for improvement.

The workshops came on the heels of three town hall-style events held this summer by President Mark Thompson in which he outlined the need for a new five-year plan and steps taken to properly develop one. Thompson’s timeline is aggressive, as he moves toward a finalized strategic plan, with Board of Trustees approval, by early Spring 2020. To properly meet that goal, he created four working groups respectively tasked to his four strategic focus areas: Inclusive Excellence, High-Value Learning, a Transformative Student Experience, and Next-Generation Partnerships.

students placing sticky notes on a whiteboard

Each group comprises roughly 18 members, its makeup ranging from students, faculty, and staff to trustees and university advisers. Members have also been encouraged to consult with additional groups including internal and external stakeholders and partners.

“I’ve said this before, and firmly believe, that this plan will only be as strong as the diversity of ideas generated,” Thompson said.

The working groups presented their initial strategic recommendations in early November to the strategic plan’s steering committee made up of Thompson, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rich Hansen, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Annamaria Wenner, Board of Trustees Chair Greg Janey, University Advisers Chair Rose Conti, and Wentworth Student Government President Casey Germain. The steering committee then shared the recommendations with the community and provided opportunities for feedback in November and December on these initial ideas. Taking this community input into account, the steering committee is refining the strategic plan in preparation for presenting it to the Board of Trustees in early spring 2020.

students talk over a table

This plan is being developed at a time when colleges and universities face increasing challenges in the coming years due to a dwindling number of traditionally aged college students, increased competition, and shifting demographics. Thompson sees much opportunity in the face of these challenges and believes that Wentworth’s hands-on, career-readying model strongly positions the university for the future. However, he believes that Wentworth must move quickly given the speed at which the educational landscape is changing.

“I am highly encouraged by the thorough work that has been undertaken,” he said. “The initial ideas presented by the working groups have met my expectations and are aligned with my sense of optimistic urgency to take bold and transformative steps to remain relevant and successful in the current higher education environment.”

With a strategic planning process that has incorporated wide and honest input from the Wentworth community, Thompson firmly believes that Wentworth will develop a plan that will be transformational for the university.