By Drew Brown
When PLU was going through a leadership change 10 years ago, President Loren J. Anderson was asked to give special emphasis to long-range planning for the university. He enlisted the support of faculty, staff and regents who together, over a 20-month period, developed PLU 2000: Embracing the 21st Century.
PLU 2000 contributed to many of the university's major accomplishments in the past several years including creating a significantly more diverse student body and staff, reaffirming the Lutheran higher education tradition, strengthening the endowment, expanding technology equipment and use. The report also led to a campus master plan that has shaped fund-raising efforts and helped make possible the construction of the Mary Baker Russell Music Center and South Hall and the revitalization of Xavier Hall. Future plans include construction of the Morken Center for Learning and Technology and restoration of Eastvold Hall.
The goals set by PLU 2000 provided a foundation for the decade ahead. The past three years PLU has been working on the next long-range plan, PLU 2010: The Next Level of Distinction. Central to this new report is clarifying the university mission and building an even more distinctive academic program.
The planning began in 1999 with an extensive series of town meetings that
involved more than 1,300 alumni, parents and friends of the university. Study
commissions-comprised of representative faculty, staff and students-were
created and focused on four major topics: Identity and Constituency, Building Community, Academic Distinction and Fiscal Strategies, each charged with preparing background papers, leading discussions, holding forums and preparing a final report.
The commission reports called out a number of recommendations endorsing the university's mission of educating for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership, and care-for people, for their communities, and for the earth. Those include enhancing a distinctive and visible academic culture; improving curriculum by continuing to incorporate on-site learning experiences, ethical perspectives, service, and Lutheran heritage; and supporting two distinctive program areas: international education and undergraduate research, scholarship and creative work.
Throughout the summer the PLU 2010 writing team has utilized the commission reports to draft the PLU 2010: The Next Level of Distinction plan. The campus community will have the opportunity to respond to the draft in the fall and publication of the PLU 2010 final plan is expected in early 2003.
"PLU's long-range planning work under President Anderson's leadership is significant," David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, told the PLU Board of Regents.
"The reputation the community has built, and the programs and initiatives identified for the next decade are remarkable. PLU is a destination institution."