First Year Reflections

June 21 , 2007

July 2007 marks the end of my first year as president of St. Olaf College, my alma mater, so I am shedding the label “the new president.” Since anniversaries provide occasions for reflection, here are some thoughts about where I see our college headed in the years to come.

The Class of 2011 was recruited from the largest applicant pool in the college’s history. The acceptance rate is the lowest, and the geographic and multicultural diversity and academic profile are the highest, of any class in the college’s history. Remarkably, despite these facts, the percentage of Lutherans, of first-generation-in-the family-to-attend-college and of legacy (children and grandchildren of alumni, brothers and sisters of current students) students in the class held steady with last year’s class. These trends will continue. St. Olaf will be recruiting an increasingly national student body of academically gifted students committed to living and learning in an environment shaped by our identity and mission as a Lutheran college. The college will be getting marginally smaller, downsizing from a student body of 3,000 to one of 2,800 in order to achieve better alignment between our facilities and academic resources and the number of our students. We will continue to be an intensely residential college, seeking students whose desire is to live in community in our residence halls rather than off-campus. Our commitment to our identity as a liberal arts college of the church that incorporates a global perspective in our programs is rock-solid.

It is time to develop a new strategic plan for the college, and you can expect to hear more in the coming year about that process. The plan will surely serve as the basis for the next campaign for St. Olaf, but it is too early to identify the goals and timeline for that campaign. Our greatest challenge going forward is the same one that has faced our college since its inception: our resources are not aligned with out program quality. Bringing an appropriate level of resources to bear on the programs of the college is our chief task now and in the years to come.

David R. Anderson ’74