This content was published: October 23, 2020. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.
Strategic Planning initiatives ready for community feedback; survey open through Oct. 30
Photos and Story by Sarah Rose Evans
Portland Community College’s Strategic Planning process launched more than a year ago, and since then, its Steering Committee has weathered more than a few challenges – a global pandemic, remote operations, racial unrest, and wildfires – as it carried on with its work. Despite the difficulties of working remotely, the group kept moving forward, because they knew how critical the Strategic Plan would be to steer the long-term direction of the college. The nature of the crises in the last six months served to underscore the importance of adaptability to change, centering our students’ needs in our college plans throughout.
PCC’s draft of the new Strategic Plan has four areas of focus: Belonging, Workforce, Sustainable Enterprise, and Educational Delivery. Within each of these themes, workgroups have developed five broad, forward-thinking initiatives to help PCC become more agile as it reshapes the student experience. Within the Belonging area of focus, for example, one initiative would ensure that every student has the opportunity to participate in an orientation experience. An initiative from the Workforce group would establish a holistic college and career readiness experience that includes in-program coaching and career launching support. An Enterprise initiative would create and diversify new revenue sources for the college. The Delivery group would develop and scale learner-centered class offerings by expanding access in time, place, duration, and delivery.
Linda Fergusson-Kolmes, Biology faculty and coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Center at the Sylvania Campus, was interested in participating in the Strategic Planning initiative because she felt it would ultimately serve her students. “I have always benefited in my teaching from an understanding of how other parts of the college work. This was an opportunity to see another function and contribute my perspective to bring the faculty voice to the process.”
When the Steering Committee split into four workgroups around each area of focus, Fergusson-Kolmes also served as the co-chair of the Delivery workgroup. When the four groups reconvened at the end of the summer to submit their potential initiatives, she was impressed by the breadth of the proposals and excited about the possibilities.
“There’s a lot here that’s bold. I’m really excited that we’re addressing the human need to belong, and recognizing it as foundational for learning,” Fergusson-Kolmes shared. “It is fundamental, inclusive and holistic. Also, as a biologist and someone who’s worked in areas of sustainability, I’m impressed by the work to connect our mission of equitable student success to environmental and social justice. I think that’s a shift in how sustainability is often spoken about.”
She appreciated the deliberate choices the committee made to include equity in every stage of the planning process. “Equity wasn’t a line item, but was baked in. You see it reflected in all of the groups. On the Steering Committee, I saw the willingness to grapple with systems and structures. We’re genuinely trying to make a difference, not just at the individual student level, but at the level of the entire community. It takes some hard and messy conversations, but I’m proud of us for moving forward on that journey, realizing that it is not perfect and we still have a long way to go.”
For those interested in providing feedback, it is not too late. Sylvia Kelley, the college’s executive vice-president, is seeking input from the PCC community, and is hoping faculty, staff, students and community members will weigh in on the draft initiatives to ensure the college has developed the right priorities. A survey was sent to the community on Oct. 19, and will run until Oct. 30. Kelley will use this feedback to finalize the strategic plan before Board consideration in November.
“We’re looking forward to aligning our Strategic Plan with our budget process, to ensure that we have the funding and resources to develop these initiatives,” Kelley said. “Our plan won’t just be sitting up on a shelf. We’ll see it in action across the college.”
For questions or for a link to the survey, please contact Sarah Rose Evans at email@example.com.