A number of needs and priorities cut across the distinct academic and co-curricular areas discussed above.
Cross-cutting support is required for the academic program, as additional faculty resources and/or faculty hires will be necessary to realize our plans for the core, sustainability, engineering, and the equestrian program. Across the disciplines, we will need to make additional, strategic faculty hires as enrollment grows. To support faculty development and encourage a strong expectation for faculty innovation and scholarship, we may need to reinstitute sabbatical leaves.
(b) Student Support
To better serve the diverse learning needs and styles of our students and to support their intellectual and personal growth in and out of the classroom, we need to expand our academic support services. Our students increasingly need support with writing and quantitative skills, to prepare them for college-level work and prime them for success. Many students, especially those who are first-generation, need help in “navigating” college. We also need to expand accessibility services for students with learning and physical accommodations needs.
(c) Global Engagement
We need to expand global engagement opportunities for our students. This can be accomplished, in part, by increasing the numbers of travel courses offered during the three-week terms and by encouraging study abroad for a semester or an academic year. We can also bring the world to Sweet Briar, through inviting outside speakers to campus for academic and cultural corridor programming. Globalized engagement is central to our core curriculum and it is vitally important to our sustainability efforts. It will bring added distinction to the cultural corridor—and should be instituted across the curriculum.
(d) Community Engagement
Sweet Briar’s engagement and partnerships with the local and regional communities is critical to the success of the plan. For the core, such efforts will facilitate project-based learning and leadership training. In sustainability, such networks will boost the College’s ability to serve the state’s agricultural community—particularly women—through offering in-house and partner-provided training, workshops, seminars and conferences, and demonstrating best practices in conservation agriculture. In engineering, expanded networks will be the basis for the launch and ongoing success of the Sweet Briar Engineering Institute, helping to draw regional in-service engineers to enroll in the M.S. degree program. Finally, the launch and operations of the cultural corridor will be dependent upon our community ties.
Other important aspects of community engagement include strengthening our relationship with the Monacan Indian Nation, considering the provision of educational outreach opportunities to incarcerated women in local jails and prisons, developing a business plan with the goal of re-establishing the campus pre-school, and hiring an admissions counselor with the goal of recruiting long-lasting pipelines of students from the region.