The Strategic Plan

St. Olaf College challenges students to excel in the liberal arts, examine faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation in an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by Lutheran tradition.

In 2018 and beyond, St. Olaf College will continue to offer an excellent, intensely-residential, and globally-engaged liberal arts education guided by its Lutheran tradition. We will sustain our practices in publicly documenting the outcomes of our current students and recent graduates, including their intellectual breadth, depth, and rigor; their engagement with high-impact academic, residential, and co-curricular experiences; their global understanding and citizenship; their meaningful engagement with questions of faith and value; and their longer-term professional accomplishment, financial independence, and personal fulfillment. The College will also maintain its commitment to meeting the demonstrated financial need of all students and to limiting student indebtedness.

To sustain these commitments, practices, and expected outcomes, the College has identified the strategic initiatives that will guide the work of its faculty, staff, and academic and administrative leaders for the next few years.

Goal I: Enhance student participation in, and experience of, high-impact educational practices

  1. Maintain the percentage of graduating seniors who have engaged in a high-impact practice connected to their vocation or career (internship, research, practicum, etc.) at 85% or higher.
  2. While maintaining high rates of participation, ensure equity of access to off-campus study, so that by 2020, off-campus study participants are reflective of the St. Olaf student body as a whole.
  3. Meet student demand for learning communities, such as St. Olaf’s signature Conversation programs.
  4. Ensure high-quality academic advising of all students, resulting in student ratings of their advising interactions in the National Survey of Student Engagement that exceed the mean results for other participating baccalaureate colleges and show improvement over previous administrations of the survey.
  5. Ensure high-quality career advising of all students, resulting in 85% or more of graduating seniors indicating in the First Destination Survey that they feel confident in their ability to pursue meaningful work, education, or service activities following graduation.

Goal II: Enhance student participation in, and experience of, residential life

  1. Eliminate any institutional barriers to the full participation of students in high-quality co-curricular programs and activities, so that by 2020, the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of these programs and activities is similar to that of the student body as a whole.
  2. Reduce the incidence of high-risk behaviors associated with alcohol and drug use, resulting in Spring 2018 National College Health Assessment results that exceed the mean results for other participating institutions and show improvement over the previous administration of the survey.
  3. Prevent sexual misconduct among members of the St. Olaf community.
  4. Support the first-year experience by renewing Kildahl and Kittelsby residence halls so that they begin new life cycles by 2020.
  5. By Spring 2018, complete a review of campus housing to determine what changes in our housing stock are needed to achieve the college’s goals for student learning and development in residence life for future students.

Goal III: Increase the racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity of St. Olaf students, faculty, and staff

  1. Continue to increase the percentage of domestic students of color enrolling each year, so that by Fall 2023, the percentage of first-year students of color approximates or exceeds the median percentage for first-year students enrolling in our strategic comparison group institutions.
  2. Increase sustained engagement among students who are demographically different from one another, so that by Spring 2018, St. Olaf’s “Discussions with Diverse Others” engagement indicator in the National Survey of Student Engagement exceeds the mean indicator for other baccalaureate colleges.
  3. Continue to increase faculty diversity through recruitment, such that at least 30% of new tenure-track faculty hires (on a rolling three-year average) will be diverse.
  4. Continue to increase staff diversity through recruitment, such that by 2020, the diversity demographics of our staff reflect the diversity demographics of the College’s hiring markets.

Goal IV: Advance retention and graduation rates

  1. By 2020, achieve consistent first-to-second-year retention above 95%.
  2. By 2020, achieve a consistent four-year graduation rate above 85% and six-year rate above 90%.

Goal V: Enhance programs and processes for faculty and staff recruitment and development based on the 2012 Institutional Culture Initiative

  1. Improve employee opportunities for and satisfaction with professional development programs and resources provided by the college.
  2. Create recognition programs that support high achievement by faculty and staff.
  3. By Fall 2019, complete a review of options that increase differentiation in performance evaluations and compensation systems.

Goal VI: Enhance fiscal sustainability

  1. Manage costs through careful stewardship of resources.
    1. By Fall 2018, begin implementing recommendations of the Strategic Resource Allocation Project in support of revenue generation, cost reduction, and program investment.
    2. Limit administrative costs to no more than 12% of operating expenditures.
  2. Reduce the percentage of the operating budget funded by the comprehensive fee by increasing current, or establishing new, revenue streams.
    1. By 2020, increase grant funding that supports college programs by 10% over grant revenues in 2016, measured as a 3-year rolling average.
    2. Increase endowment-market-value-per-student by 5% annually.
    3. Between 2015 and 2020, increase the funds raised through gifts to the St. Olaf  Fund by 28%.
    4. By 2020, increase the amount of funded comprehensive fee discount by 1.5%.

Goal VII: Substantially increase philanthropic support for the College’s programs

  1. Execute a campaign that raises $200 million by 2020 in support of the College’s strategic plan and ongoing critical needs.
  2. By 2020, raise the annual alumni engagement index to 41% of alumni engaged via participation, volunteering or giving.

Approved by the St. Olaf College Board of Regents, May 2018