How to Navigate the Road Ahead

President Margee Ensign

Photo by Carl Socolow ’77

by Margee Ensign, President

These are challenging times for American higher education. Even a college as old and as distinguished as Dickinson is facing challenges unforeseen a decade or two ago. But be assured, Dickinson is thriving. We have been engaged this year in serious and focused discussions about who we are, what we hope to become and how we will get there. A plan of action is taking shape.

1. To respond to demographic changes, Dickinson must become far better known outside of the Northeast. And it  is crucial that Dickinson continue to be affordable and accessible to all students.

We will need loyal and articulate members of the national and international Dickinson community to help us reach these students. We have many great stories to tell—our early commitment to sustainability and to community engagement, our decades-long leadership in global education, our innovative Mosaic and ALLARM programs. Each day, talk about Dickinson in your workplace  or your community. Share stories you see on our website and our social media channels. Help us tell the world about this distinctive and useful liberal-arts experience.

2. We will establish new revenue-enhancing programs to increase our reach and our visibility.

Beginning next summer, we will offer innovative programming for high school students to prepare them for success in college. Our joint programming with the U.S. Army War College—a unique partnership between a liberal-arts college and a service academy—will strengthen our offerings in peacebuilding, international cooperation and humanitarian response.

3. While remaining absolutely committed to our liberal-arts mission, we will implement more effective ways of helping to guide and prepare students for the careers— often the many careers—that will await them in a rapidly changing world.

We have merged our advising, career services and internship placement offices into the Center for Advising, Internships & Lifelong Career Development, which is focused on student and alumni success. We commit to making an internship available for every student who wants one so our students get to apply their knowledge and attain real-world experience. Our internship opportunities will be both domestic and international, at public and private institutions. Will you commit to hosting and hiring one of our students?

4. We shall continue to provide a world-class education that evolves as the world changes.

Our highly regarded writing center provides essential support for all students. We are responding to the growing importance of mathematics and data analysis with a new quantitative economics major as well as with big data classes. Our Quantitative Reasoning Center provides a level of support that is uncommon in a liberal-arts college. And delivering on the promise that liberal-arts colleges make—but often fail to fulfill—we are ensuring that value questions are at the core of what we do and have developed an Ethics Across the Curriculum initiative.

5. Carrying on the revolutionary tradition of which we are all so proud, we are establishing a new Center for Civic Learning and Action.

Building on our exemplary record of civic engagement, the college will become far more involved in strengthening the country’s dedication to democracy, justice and constitutional government.

6. Dickinson will be the first college in the country to institutionalize inclusion, continuing our efforts to equip all of our students, faculty and staff with the skills needed to work in a global society.

We all must increase our understanding of and our communication with those who come from different cultural backgrounds. We shall weave such competency throughout everything we do, much like we did when we made sustainability a cornerstone of the Dickinson experience and education.

7. When our students leave Dickinson, they will join a “Dickinson forever” community of lifelong learning. Knowledge today changes so rapidly that even the very finest education soon finds itself in need of an update.

We want to make sure that our alumni, parents and friends are able to stay current with the very latest ideas and information impacting our careers and reshaping our futures, so we will establish an ambitious new lifelong-education program for Dickinson alumni.

The road ahead for U.S. higher education will be neither smooth nor straight. But the Dickinson community knows its true north, and together we will navigate a bright future Dickinson.

Read more from the fall 2018 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published October 24, 2018