“The conversation is the strategy.” That’s what Laurie Patton said about the first year of the Envisioning Middlebury process.
She said that the process was designed to engage all of Middlebury’s campuses, locations, and constituencies, and by exploring the many dimensions of Middlebury—some traditional, some newly complex—the challenges and opportunities that the institution will face in the years ahead would become evident. Whatever the plan may become, she said, would be guided by this work.
For the next 12 months or so, people expressed their opinions through surveys, participated in facilitated conversations, and organized self-directed community conversations. As a result, the greater Middlebury community produced what amounted to 500 pages of material for the Steering Committee to consider. And what emerged were prevailing themes and directions that served as the building blocks of the framework.
Forming the Strategic Plan
The Directions Survey
More than 1,200 people offered opinions on Middlebury’s strengths and weaknesses, while also identifying defining characteristics of the institution.
Mapping the Directions Survey to the Strategic Framework
Nearly 700 people attended one of the 39 focus groups held around the country. From these conversations three dominant themes emerged.
Mapping Facilitated Conversations to the Strategic Framework
Hundreds of people organized community conversations—21 gatherings in all—that ranged from discussions about the arts to STEM, contemplative pedagogy to work-life balance.
During the course of a year, groups of faculty, staff, and students gathered in Vermont and Monterey to discuss issues most important to them. Unlike the facilitated conversations, these gatherings were entirely self-directed.
Mapping Community Conversations to the Strategic Framework