Shaping Our Future

Academic Mission

Focus on our academic mission - our commitment to providing every student with an education that extends beyond the simple transmission of knowledge and skills to a concept of learning as a broad, integrated and transformational process.

Areas for Action:

  • Provide the resources necessary to support academic departments, programs, facilities and information technology services (ITS) at a level that ensures excellence in the fulfillment of our academic mission. For example: renovation of the Fondren-Jones science building; the addition of faculty in key areas of the curriculum, including interdisciplinary programs; resources for the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center as an essential support unit of the academic program; and continued support for extra-departmental programs such as the First-Year Seminar, Advanced Entry Seminar and Paideia Programs. Because renovation of the Fondren-Jones science building is the highest fundraising priority, fundraising for this building will be initiated in the early stages of the plan.
  • Continue our curriculum commitments that were initiated in our Strategic Plan for 2010, including the implementation of a four-credit course model commencing Fall 2010. In the first half of the plan's life, we will fully implement curricular revisions, which will include decreasing the number of courses students take overall. At the same time, due to the planned growth of the student body, we will gradually increase the number of students at Southwestern. We will monitor these changes so that, even during the transition, we can ensure that class sizes remain at a level that provides students with high quality faculty-student interactions in and out of the classroom. In the first 4-5 years of the strategic plan's 10-year life, as we make these changes, we will assess how they will affect the academic needs of the institution in specific areas. In the second half of the plan's life, we will act on those needs by increasing tenured and tenure-track faculty and staff in needed areas, including interdisciplinary programs.
  • Focus on recruiting, enrolling and retaining an increasingly diverse and academically excellent student body composed of developing scholars committed to a broad-based liberal arts and sciences education and an in-depth exploration of an area of study. We will continue to diversify our student body, not only because we want to offer our educational experience to a wider range of individuals, but also because we believe that student body diversity enhances our overall academic discourse and contributes to a more vibrant learning environment. Our focus on visibility and recognition in this plan is expected to contribute greatly to recruiting and enrolling a diverse group of bright, well-prepared and academically engaged students.
  • Provide for the continuing support and development of our faculty, whose passion for and commitment to teaching is grounded in a rich engagement in research, scholarship and creative pursuits, and of our highly dedicated and talented staff. During the first half of the 10-year plan, focus resources on compensation stability and professional development funds for existing faculty and staff; and in the second half of the plan, anticipate growth in faculty and an improvement in comparative national rankings for compensation.
  • Ensure that our students have transformative experiences in the world by creating more opportunities for students to experience a global education. To achieve this goal, we need to increase opportunities for students to study abroad by revising policies regarding the portability of Southwestern financial aid and by developing program partnerships across the globe. Further, we should enhance current student exchange programs as an avenue as well as an opportunity to increase international student enrollment at Southwestern.