President Thomas Hellie delivered a State of the College Address on Sept. 11 in Ice Auditorium that reviewed the past academic school year, touched on the current school year and focused heavily on Linfield’s six-year strategic plan.
He first discussed Linfield’s current year, saying that the existing endowment is at $82 million.
Hellie explained that, despite low fundraising totals, last year put Linfield at 38 years in a row with a balanced budget. He expects this year to be the 39th as long as there are no major surprises.
The Board of Trustees has determined that one-third of the financial surplus from last year will be put into endowment and reserves, and the remainder will fund academic programs, student services, enrollment, facilities and fundraising.
Hellie relayed the renovations that took place during the summer including the HVAC renovation in Taylor Hall and expansion of the fitness center in the HHPA.
Other renovations included the relocation of the physics department to Graf Hall, addition of a new biology laboratory, new academic affairs offices in Melrose Hall and various maintenance and repair work in buildings throughout campus. President Hellie also noted that T.J. Day Hall was granted LEED “Gold” certification.
Hellie said the three main goals for this year’s strategic plan are to strengthen academic programs, enhance Linfield’s regional, national
and global connections and to grow and strategically align Linfield’s resources.
In order to set these goals into motion, Hellie said that the plan calls for new faculty positions, as well as the endowment of current positions.
Fall’s newly endowed faculty member is Anna Keesey, assistant professor of English, the “Renshaw Distinguished Professor of Literature and Writing.” This spring, the “Elizabeth and Morris Glicksman Chair in Political Science” will be Dawn Nowacki, professor of political science.
The Board of Trustees has also cultivated $218,000 to current endowments for faculty development and faculty-student research.
The National Science Foundation donated $250,000 toward research within the sciences.
Hellie continued his address by describing the eight institutional or administrative goals for the present academic year.
The first is to complete the standard two reaccreditation report. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities requires Linfield to file a report every two years regarding assessment and accreditation. This report is due a year from now.
Of the remaining seven goals the second is to engage the college in a discussion of the impact of a more diverse student population. One week prior to his address, Hellie asked faculty and staff to nominate themselves or others to join a committee about diversity. He received more than 30 nominations and is planning to appoint the committee some time this week.
Hellie said that the next goal on his list is to create a facilities plan for the college. Linfield has not had a complete facilities plan since 1998, despite updating the plan in 2007. John Hall, the director of capital planning, interviewed departments and divisions at the McMinnville and Portland campuses and created a report of the desired facility
The fourth goal is to launch fundraising in support of the strategic plan. Hellie said that Linfield needs to increase the financial aid available for students, create new learning experiences and improve facilities. The Board of Trustees and the College Relations staff are organizing a strategy to focus on fundraising priorities.
Integrating the college’s marketing efforts is the fifth goal on Hellie’s list. He said that Linfield has a restricted budget for marketing and communication, yet would like to more successfully advocate Linfield’s nature and reputation. Hellie said that recruiting students from a larger geographical area is of the upmost importance and will spend communication and marketing dollars as efficient as possible.
Goal number six is to improve enrollment results, particularly with transfer students at the McMinnville campus. Hellie said that the freshman class has been too small the past two years. Also, when the nursing students migrate to the Portland campus, there is a lack of upperclassmen on campus. Therefore, Hellie said he does not want to recruit a large number of transfer student but would like to offer a place for qualified students to enroll.
Hellie said his seventh goal is to clarify goals for faculty compensation and to resolve questions about teaching load. There has been an ongoing discussion regarding compensation and which peer group Linfield should compare itself to. More than a decade ago the Board of Trustees chose to assess Linfield alongside the PACOON group of institutions, a group of private west coast colleges and universities. Hellie stated that the faculty committee currently determines compensation growth by a national standard devised by the American Association of University Professors. Concerning faculty teaching load, Hellie said that he would like to increase scholarship time for faculty.
The eighth and final goal Hellie included in his address is to evaluate the role of online learning at Linfield College. He said that online learning is controversial in many aspects and that the relationship between student and professor is the starting point in an individualized education. Susan Agre-Kippenhan, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, will meet with Linfield faculty that routinely teach online classes and invite outside professionals to rate Linfield’s online classes and technology.
Hellie concluded his address by restating a few lines he had written in a letter to the Linfield community when presenting draft 3.0 of the six-year strategic plan last May. The following is one of those quotes:
“My goal is for Linfield College to become known as the premiere undergraduate college in the Northwest, providing an excellent, integrated education in the liberal arts and related professional disciplines. We will become known for experiential learning in the Northwest and abroad, for personalized instruction in a variety of forms, and for transforming the lives of our diverse, curious, engaged students.”