The Power of Union: New strategic plan offers an ambitious road map for the future

Publication Date
Strategic Plan cover

Union’s Board of Trustees Saturday affirmed the College’s latest strategic plan, a sweeping and ambitious document that will guide the school’s decision-making over the next five years.

Titled “The Power of Union,” the 17-page plan serves as a blueprint for the College to build upon its 225-year standing as an innovator in liberal education by “developing every student to lead with wisdom, empathy and courage, in ways large and small, now and across multiple tomorrows.”

In the works for more than a year, the plan commissioned by President David R. Harris shortly after he arrived in July 2018 involved hundreds of members of the Union community, including trustees, students, faculty, staff, alumni and other key stakeholders.

Offering a bold and enduring vision, the plan consists of three parts that touch on all aspects of campus life, from academic offerings and experiences outside the classroom to bolstering diversity and deepening relations with Union’s hometown of Schenectady.

This includes an aspirational preview of Union in 2025, a look at where the College is today, and a vision and plan to achieve further success.

“This plan is guided by what we have been and by where we need to go,” Harris states in the introduction. “It is guided by an appreciation for the programs and approaches that have served our community so well for decades and an acknowledgement of the changing experiences and needs of today’s students, and the opportunities and challenges they will encounter in the coming decades.”

Focusing on two main goals, the plan offers a series of key objectives and activities to achieve them.

The first goal aims for Union to “strengthen its vibrant community of learners, scholars and teachers, so that we can more fully blend the liberal arts and engineering, transcend disciplinary boundaries, bridge classroom and immersive experiences, and engage and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives.”

The second goal calls for Union to “ensure that it has the resources required to thrive in a changing higher education landscape.”

Across the plan’s pages are themes supported by the title, “The Power of Union.” These include the power of Union between tradition and innovation, the power between liberal arts and engineering, the power between classroom and experiential learning, and the power between town and gown.

Among the priorities outlined in the plan:

• reimagine the curriculum and renew pedagogy to anticipate and respond to contemporary and emerging academic needs and opportunities

• provide an intentional, invigorating and supportive student experience outside the classroom that is integrated with academic learning, develops critical competencies and prepares all students for healthy, fulfilling and joyful lives of purpose

• cultivate respect and understanding for all members of the Union College and broader communities, and welcome, include and support a measurably more diverse college community

• create a sustainable, diversified and achievable financial model that supports the highest priorities and goals of Union College

• Increase support at all levels, and strengthen the culture of philanthropy at Union

The document acknowledges the challenges faced in higher education, including a historic enrollment decline nationwide, economic headwinds, and rapid technological and social change.

But “The Power of Union” makes certain the College is well-positioned to thrive in 2025 because of its “synergistic use of classroom and discretionary time, the immersive experiences both inside and outside the classroom, the strengthening and deep integration of the traditional liberal arts and engineering, the expansion of connections across internal and external communities, and an intentionality that ensures the full power of Union is embraced and experienced by all students.”

Now that the plan has been approved, work will begin to achieve its ambitious goals.

“Union is not only our name, but also the key to our future success,” Harris states. “This plan is about the power of unions between ideas, approaches, individuals and groups that are often thought to be at odds with one another, and how bringing them together propels this school and its people to surpass the lofty goals we set for ourselves.”

To read the full plan, visit the website.