1. Mission and Purpose
Over the past 12 years, Wesleyan has embraced a strategic planning model that engages faculty, students, staff and trustees in an ongoing process of planning, implementation and assessment that comprehends all aspects of the life of the University.
The first fruit of this process was a vision for liberal education. In 1996, Wesleyan embarked on a self-examination of our curriculum and the meaning and value of liberal education in the 21st century. Wesleyan Education for the 21st Century (1997) clearly stated our mission and purpose, and an excerpt opens the discussion of curriculum in the Wesleyan University Catalog:
Liberal education, with its breadth and intellectual discipline, offers students the best preparation for a world of change and plurality. … The task of liberal education, as we see it today, is to instill a capacity for critical and creative thinking that can address unfamiliar and changing circumstances, to engender a moral sensibility that can weigh consequence beyond self, and to establish an enduring love of learning for its own sake that will enable graduates to refresh their education throughout their lives.
Wesleyan Education for the 21st Century defined essential capabilities that a Wesleyan graduate will need to master. This work has since been augmented and refined by the faculty. The capabilities are enumerated in the current Catalog as follows:
Wesleyan faculty are continuing to refine and implement the vision for liberal education initially described in Wesleyan Education for the 21st Century. They are developing criteria for use in helping students identify courses that address one or more of the essential capabilities, as well as in setting learning goals and evaluating the outcomes for particular courses.
The Office of Academic Affairs is partnering with faculty across the sciences to develop a strategic plan that addresses the needs to recruit more science students to Wesleyan, to increase the proportion of Wesleyan students majoring in the sciences, and to promote interdisciplinary study by non-science students. Our science faculty have been working to strengthen introductory courses, as well as to develop courses that bridge the sciences with subjects in the humanities, as part of this initiative to promote science study. The strategic plan also highlights the need to continue strengthening Wesleyan's graduate programs in the sciences, which strongly support faculty research productivity, graduate and undergraduate learning, and the intellectual richness of Wesleyan's academic environment. Thus, having defined its own unique requisites for undergraduate education, Wesleyan has an opportunity to better define its ambitions for graduate education, as well.
Wesleyan's academic planning has provided the core for ongoing institutional planning. In November 1998, the Wesleyan Board of Trustees officially adopted a strategic plan entitled Strategy for Wesleyan that was the outgrowth of a comprehensive study designed to establish the actions necessary to achieve the goals of the academic plan. Faculty, students, staff and trustees participated in the planning. This document served as the basis upon which the institution identified its priorities, planned its future and evaluated its endeavors. In 2005, the Board adopted Engaged with the World (2005), which updated Wesleyan's institutional strategy, delineating institutional priorities for the next five years..
More detail about the current plan and its implementation is covered in Standard Two – Planning and Evaluation.