More than 50 administrators, staff, faculty and Board of Trustees members from Tusculum College recently spent two days in strategic planning sessions, reviewing the past year’s successes and challenges and optimistically planning for the future.
The group met at First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville on Thursday and Friday, July 9-10, and spent the time developing the College’s next five-year plan for 2009-2014. Several new programs slated for implementation in the coming year are still on track, including a new theater minor and the piloting of the schools’ Quality Enhancement Plan focused on integrating activities to boost reflective judgment skills into the curriculum and campus life.
In the School of Education, several new teacher-licensure options will also be offered in the coming year to both residential and Graduate and Professional Studies program students. These programs will include licensure in combined special education and early childhood, which is a one-of-a-kind custom program approved by the State of Tennessee, and a master’s degree program that leads to post-baccalaureate certification for those who have a baccalaureate degree but need additional coursework in order to be able to sit for the state teacher licensure exams.
“We are continuing to add programs that address the needs of our region,” said Dr. Kim Estep, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “As a small, private institution, we are uniquely able to make adjustments based on current research and market statistics.”
The group also reviewed the previous year and addressed issues related to the current economy.
“Many of our peer institutions have publicly announced serious cuts as a result of the economic climate we currently face,” said Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College. “We have been benchmarking the College against our peer institutions, and although we anticipate ending the 2008-09 year with a deficit, I am pleased to announce that due to early planning actions taken by the administration and Board of Trustees, there are currently no plans to cut programs, have layoffs, pay-cuts, alter employee benefits or other harsh measures similar to what several other institutions and businesses have been forced to implement.”
She added, “Tusculum College, like many other higher education institutions and private business organizations, has had to take a look at what the current economic situation of our country has meant to the way we do business. Fortunately, with planning and discussions with everyone involved, like the sessions we’ve had this week, we are able to plan for a balanced budget in 2009-2010 without affecting the quality of the educational experience for our students.”
Tusculum College has taken steps to ensure a balanced budget in the coming year, as well as growth in the number of educational programs offered in both the residential and the Graduate and Professional Studies programs.
The College continues to grow overall with the residential campus exceeding its goals for 2009-10 in student deposits and on-campus housing occupancies expected to exceed 98 percent. In new programs, a new theater minor and piloting of the Reflective Judgment Quality Enhancement Plan begins this fall, followed by the addition of a music minor and a pep band on campus in the near future.
Dr. Bill Garris, assistant professor of psychology and leader of the campus’ Quality Enhancement Plan Steering Committee, told the group that several professors have begun work on integrating reflective judgment activities into their course work for residential and Graduate and Professional Studies programs, and the initial benchmark testing will begin with the Tusculum Experience course for freshmen when residential students return to campus in late August.
“Helping our students in developing reflective judgment skills will lead them to be judicious decision-makers, not only professionally, but also in their personal lives and as leaders and servants in their communities,” said Garris.
Other items addressed in the five-year plan include more long-term goals such as addressing capital needs and a capital campaign feasibility study for a new science building on campus. The facilities master plan is also set to be reviewed and updated. Other capital needs discussed included additional student housing on the Greeneville campus and a review of facility needs at the College’s non-Greeneville sites.
“There was great energy in the room as this group looked at the next five years for Tusculum College,” said Moody. “There will continue to be challenges, but the future for the unique education, career and life preparation offered on the Tusculum College campus is vibrant.”