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Foundation of the Future

September 24, 2012

Dear Colleagues:

Today we made available to University faculty and staff a joint report of the recommendations of the Foundation of the Future Academic and Administrative Task Forces. The two Task Forces were appointed last fall and in July they completed their assigned charge to identify programs on which the University will focus its resources without increasing its overall budget. The joint report includes the prioritized recommendations on more than 250 of the University’s academic and administrative programs.

I want to stress that these are recommendations, not decisions. We are now committed to listening to the wider University community before proceeding to any decisions. The goal of Foundation of the Future is to build on the current strengths of the University in order to make it even better despite an uncertain economy, and to do that we invite your feedback.

Eighteen months ago, in the spring semester of 2010, we committed to several strategic goals. At that point, we were in the midst of preparing for our accreditation review by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). We knew the NEASC report would allow us to look back at the previous decade as well as assess the current condition of the University. We adopted a course of action that included four related initiatives rolled out in three related phases: a full-time faculty compensation study, which was released at briefings to full-time faculty on September 11; the Foundation of the Future review and prioritization study, which are the recommendations being made available today; a marketing and branding effort that should be completed in February, 2013; a master plan for our libraries that will allow us to begin seeking external funding support; all of which move us toward a University-wide strategic planning process (hence the name Foundation of the Future). We intend to undertake the next step, a strategic planning process, during the coming spring semester.

We believe that to strengthen the University during uncertain economic times we must better support our programs by reducing the scope of what we have been attempting to do. We face both increased competition from other colleges and universities and increased financial need among our students. In order to improve our competitive position, and to meet our students’ financial needs, we intend to reallocate our budget priorities by reducing the number of programs we offer and by providing better support to our priority programs. This is not a budget reduction plan; it is budget neutral.

For Foundation of the Future’s review and prioritization study, we established two task forces made up of faculty and staff members who were independent of the senior administration. The Academic Task Force, chaired by Professors Katherine Black and Harry Workman, consisted of 25 faculty members. The Administrative Task Force, chaired by R.J. McGivney and Norman Young, consisted of 20 faculty and staff members. Both groups created, following University-wide discussion last spring, a set of criteria for measuring program priority. Then a program information report was completed by each program addressing how it met the criteria. The Task Forces reviewed the reports and prioritized each program against the others, then recommended which University programs should be invested in, maintained as they are, restructured for savings or efficiency, or divested in the coming years.

I am deeply grateful to the 45 people who served on the Task Forces this spring and summer. They took on a very complex and difficult task, and they performed their duties out of a deep commitment and sense of confidence in the University and its future.

Our intention is to complete a plan for implementation of the recommendations that are adopted by the close of the fall semester. Between today and then, University officers will be looking at any new, relevant data; considering projected budget implications; and assessing the recommendations within an institutional context. For academic programs recommended for divestment, we will follow the procedure outlined in the Manual of Academic Programs and Procedures, which begins with deliberations at the school and college level and then moves to consideration by the Council of Deans and the Faculty Senate. For administrative programs, the University’s officers will serve as the deliberative body, after due consideration of community comments and discussions, new data, and revenue implications. In reaching these decisions, we will also consult with and be guided by the University’s Board of Regents.

Links to the joint Task Forces’ recommendations and to Frequently Asked Questions are located on the left navigation of this page. Comments and questions can be submitted to

I believe strongly that this deliberative and inclusive process will lead to making a great University even stronger. I know that some of these discussions and decisions will be difficult, but I am confident in this community and our shared commitment to the University.


Walter Harrison