President Elam announces the launch of a new Integrated Strategic Planning (ISP) effort.

Dear Occidental Community:

I am extremely pleased and excited to announce the launch of a new Integrated Strategic Planning (ISP) effort for Occidental College. Beginning this semester, we will embark on an Integrated Strategic Planning process that will be highly collaborative, and is intended to result in a compelling vision and a corresponding set of institutional priorities that will propel Occidental through 2030. I invite your participation in the ISP, as this process will necessarily involve the entire Oxy community and will be completed by January 2023. 

In this current moment of transition, as students, faculty, and staff return to the campus, and as we negotiate the demands of our present circumstances and look to the future, we stand particularly well poised to take on this important planning effort. Oxy’s most recent strategic plan was adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2012 and extended in 2017—so we are certainly due. Still, developing this plan will need to both build on and diverge from the previous effort. While our mission to provide a gifted and diverse group of students with a unique and impactful educational experience has not and will not change, the environment in which we operate continues to change around us. The disruption caused by the pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges we face. At the same time, Occidental’s collective values and singular position as a residential liberal arts college in a global, dynamic city provide us with exciting and diverse opportunities to prepare students to be leaders, change agents, and engaged citizens in an increasingly complex world. 

In recognition of the complexity of the planning environment and the importance of delivering an actionable roadmap, we have consciously termed this effort an “integrated” strategic plan. Issues of budget and finance will be central to this process. Accordingly, the final plan will include not only priorities but a clear delineation of necessary financial investments, timing, milestones and accountability. 

This process aims to enlist the entire Oxy community. I have formed a steering committee consisting of faculty, staff, administrators and students to oversee the process and work closely with me on incorporating constituent voices and crafting a collective vision for the future. I have charged the steering committee with developing, organizing, and supervising a collaborative, community-informed process from start to finish, concluding with the drafting of the final plan which will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval. Co-chairing the steering committee will be Sharla Fett, Robert Glass Cleland Professor of American History and Faculty Council president, and Marty Sharkey, vice president for communications and institutional initiatives. The Steering Committee will regularly update a trustee working group on ISP. Ultimately, the Board of Trustees will need to vote on and approve the plan. The particular engagement of the Trustees underscores how everyone—staff, faculty, parents, alumni, students and Trustees—has a vital role to play in the planning. Additionally, our community's principles regarding justice, equity, inclusion, and diversity will be embedded throughout the ISP. The campus-wide strategic planning work will dovetail with concurrent work on the College's Equity & Justice Strategic Plan, led by our new VP for Equity & Justice, David T. Carreon Bradley. Community involvement and transparency throughout the process will be two core principles that will guide the development of both the ISP and the E&J plan.

As we construct this plan and consider our resources, there are a series of governing questions that will fundamentally inform our determination of key priorities and objectives. What makes us distinct and how can we further differentiate ourselves from our peers? What is the “Oxy difference” and how do we put it into action? How do we achieve long-term financial stability and how do we maintain academic excellence? In an increasingly competitive environment, how do we increase our visibility and gain increased national prominence and reputation for the great work that we do? The answer to such questions will affect everything from fundraising to faculty recruitment to admission yields. At issue, then, is how do we step out boldly into our future? Through this process, we will look to reinforce our strengths, bolster our core, even as we embrace the ongoing challenge to be all that we can be.

I invite you to read more about Oxy’s integrated strategic planning process on our ISP website, which will be updated throughout our journey. The first phase of planning will include a significant amount of community input. On the website you will find information about the different ways you can participate and voice your thoughts, including in-person and virtual community input meetings, and an online survey through which you can provide ideas and feedback at any time.

I greatly look forward to your involvement as we chart an exciting path forward for Occidental College.

President Elam