Campus News

Strategic Plan 2016-2021 Approved

March 30, 2016

Lisa Gulasy

After 18 months of work by the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and other members of the Oberlin community, “Oberlin College Strategic Plan 2016-2021: Institutional transformation through an inclusive approach to academic and musical excellence” was approved by the General Faculty on February 4, 2016, and by the Board of Trustees on March 4, 2016. The full plan, which will guide Oberlin College and Conservatory throughout the next five years, can be read on this webpage.

“I am delighted that the strategic plan 2016-2021 has been approved by our Board of Trustees and faculty,” President Marvin Krislov says. “A tremendous amount of thought and discussion went into this plan, the implementation of which will make Oberlin more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and more welcoming and nurturing for all students during their time here and after they graduate.”

The strategic planning process began in the 2013-2014 academic year when the Planning Advisory Committee (an ad hoc subcommittee of the Board of Trustees) began to determine principles for and leadership of the development of a new strategic plan. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee—composed of 12 board members, 11 faculty members, three senior staff members, three administrative and professional staff (A&PS), two alumni, and three students—first met on October 9, 2014. Board of Trustees Member Diane Yu ’73 and Krislov served as committee cochairs, and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Kathryn Stuart, assisted by Julie Min, served as coordinator.

The steering committee was organized into three working groups each tasked with addressing issues in a thematic area. Six more students were added to the working groups in March 2015 at the request of the committee’s original student representatives, Sophie Davis ’17, Ryan Dearon ’18, and Machmud Makhmudov ’16.

“I'm glad the committee was responsive to student input, and I’m grateful for its dedication to an open and inclusive process,” says Makhmudov, a senior politics major with a minor in environmental studies. “Having a bigger group yielded more fruitful discussions that the entire committee benefitted from.”

From its inception, the committee sought to keep the planning process as open as possible, inviting participation and feedback from the greater Oberlin community by holding listening sessions and meetings with small groups throughout fall 2014 and spring and fall 2015 and by sharing major documents—including a preliminary report and first draft—on the specially created strategic planning website. The open process allowed community members to help shape the resulting plan, particularly its emphasis on the ideas of access, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Now that the plan has passed, the college administration—led by the president and in collaboration with the General Faculty Council (acting in its planning capacity), the board, faculty, staff, students, and alumni—will begin implementing it. Implementation will focus on three main areas: engaging students in innovative ways and offering them pathways to success in a diverse, inclusive residential community; providing students with a connected learning experience with more effective advising, mentoring, and post-graduation support; and building a sustainable financial model.

Krislov, on behalf of the committee, stresses that the “inclusive spirit” experienced throughout the strategic planning process will be continued into its implementation phase. “We received valuable input from hundreds of stakeholders as well as many outside experts in crafting this plan, so we intend for the implementation process to be done with that same openness,” he says. The greater Oberlin community will be kept informed of implementation progress via the strategic plan website and email updates.

For more on the strategic planning process and to read “Oberlin College Strategic Plan 2016-2021: Institutional transformation through an inclusive approach to academic and musical excellence,” visit

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