Thoughts for Harvey Mudd College’s Strategic Plan (provided 2005-2006)
Excerpts for Workshop 2: Optimizing our Interface with Society
These have been (very slightly) edited – only to highlight ideas fitting the themes of workshop #2
Facilities for teaching and research. The Olin Center, which is the college’s most recently completed academic building, was built more than a decade ago. Many other colleges and universities have constructed new science buildings since the early 1990s which incorporate design features of versatility, openness, and visual appeal largely absent at HMC. By comparison, many classrooms and laboratories at HMC seem cramped, dark, cluttered with equipment, and restricted to particular uses. (The redesign of the engineering project studio is a notable counter-example.) To what extent do our current spaces for teaching and research promote the educational goals of our curriculum? Are changes needed in our facilities to promote current teaching practices that favor creativity, communication, interdisciplinary work, and the use of technology in both teaching and research?
Leadership. Making HMC a leader, or even the leader, in undergraduate science research is a valuable goal and one ideally suited to the college’s mission and character. To approach this goal strategically (i.e., to develop a plan as well as a goal), it would be useful to consider and define explicitly what this means. How is “preeminence” in this area to be measured? Is it measured now? If there were a ranking of undergraduate institutions, or academic programs, for comparative preeminence in the area of student research, what are, or would be, the criteria to be considered? If we were the leader now, or if we were in the top ten, how would we know this? Compared to whom? Do we now have, or could we assemble, the data of outside observers to substantiate a claim to leadership?
Undergraduate Research. It used to be that research for undergraduates was relatively rare. Those of us graduating from HMC during that time had a distinct advantage in graduate school - both in our applications and our eventual performance. Nowadays, though, undergraduate research is expected. Thus, it's a no-brainer that HMC continue its active research efforts, but the question now becomes what can it do to regain the edge it had when it was one of the few institutions that demanded undergraduate research? Simply having a good research program is not enough. What else can/should it do? Yet more research? Better quality research? Interdiscplinary, multi-faceted research? Public outreach (this is an increasingly important topic for modern researchers and grant acceptance)? What? Scot Kleinman ('83)
Social and Emotional Well-Being: The process of receiving an excellent Harvey Mudd education places tremendous pressure on students, who are often away from home and parents for the first time. These very young adults are in a crucial stage of life development. How can the college foster even more healthy emotional, spiritual, and social growth for its students? (Current examples include the Honor Code, the emphasis on cooperative learning, and team-oriented courses such as Clinics.) Can HMC better prepare students to "assume leadership in their fields" by providing not only an intellectual understanding of the humanities and social sciences but also by addressing their formation as persons in a holistic sense? Jonathan Ball Class of '91