Inside Marist's Plan to Modernize the Campus
By Brian Edsall
Marist College has experienced tremendous growth over its history, especially during the 37-year tenure of former President Dennis Murray. However, as the landscape of higher education changes, Marist must change as well. The college’s success is now under the supervision of President David Yellen, and with his new leadership comes a new strategic plan for 2018-2023.
On March 7th, Dr. Geoffrey Brackett and Dr. Moira Fitzgibbons, co-chairs of the 2018-2023 strategic planning committee, held a strategic planning meeting for Marist students and faculty. Brackett and Fitzgibbons encouraged students to share their thoughts and ideas at the meeting.
Some student contributions mentioned better accommodation for commuting students and a smoother transition process for students returning to the Poughkeepsie campus from studying abroad, specifically those in the freshman Florence experience.
Frank Pecorelli, president of the admission student leadership board, believes that student ambassadors can regularly provide valuable information to strategic planning in addition to the suggestions made during this meeting. “Ambassadors are students who are very involved in the entire Marist College campus as a whole,” Pecorelli said. “Our ambassador program is very devoted to ensuring that we represent the diversity on campus and we have a great group of students who we feel do just that.”
Fitzgibbons agreed that student input is not only helpful, but crucial to the planning process. “Marist is one place, but we all inhabit it in different ways,”Fitzgibbons said. Students are experiencing the campus in a much more intense and immersive way. As a faculty member, I know that my perspective on students’ lives is inevitably limited, so it’s important to establish some opportunities for informal conversation and reflection.”
Members of the strategic planning committee and they were extremely satisfied with the valuable feedback received during this meeting. “I organized the session with the goal to create a dialogue between very involved student leaders and the strategic planning committee in effort to get more support and voice from the Student Body,” said Brandon Heard, President of the Student Government Association. “I think the contributions that students made were extremely beneficial and eye opening for administration.”
Members of the strategic planning committee are encouraged by the positive direction of Marist students and the institution as a whole. “This was a unique year considering everything that happened in the world in addition to all the series of events within the college…This was definitely the most involved year for me at Marist and students are really picking up the pace – I like that.” Heard said.
“We are becoming a more complex and internationally-respected institution, and those are very good things to be doing in higher education right now,” Brackett added. Both professors and students alike have shared comments on addressing campus diversity. “I am very happy that they are taking a stronger stance on the issue of diversity on campus,” Timos Pietris, former Marist student body president, said. “Though we have come far over the past several years, we are still not at a point where you have all students of diverse backgrounds feeling at home here.”
“Whether they involve questions of politics, economic status, sexuality, race, gender, or other factors, these kinds of roadblocks can be awkward to discuss and difficult to remove,” Fitzgibbons added. “But if we don’t attend to these obstacles, then there’s no chance at all that we will get rid of them.”
This strategic plan will focus on a student-centered approach, financial security and stability, innovation, continued elevation of Marist’s reputation, diversity, and sustainability, all of which will maintain competitiveness on the national and international levels.
The finalized strategic plan will serve as a blueprint for Marist over the next five years; it will be submitted to the Board of Trustees at their November 2017 meeting.