February 20, 2020

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

While the primary focus of this letter is to inform you about significant campus initiatives, I want to begin by thanking all of our students, staff, faculty and alumni who assisted our students, coaches, and their families during our recent tragedy. While the effects of that accident will continue to touch our community for years to come, I am so grateful for all who have and continue to ensure that all those affected are cared for and supported as we begin to heal. As so many alumni said to me when I returned to Florida this past week and thanked them: “Father, this is who we are.”  It certainly is the best of who we are and whom we hope to be for one another.

1.         Strategic Planning

We are coming to the end of our current strategic plan, and the end of our comprehensive campaign. As many of you know, our current strategic plan was organized around the four themes of Mind, Body, Spirit and Community and identified initiatives that would be our strategic focus for 2015-2020. We have made significant progress toward the goals articulated in that plan and have almost completed the capital projects contained in that plan.

It is time to begin the process of designing our next strategic plan. The primary goal of this work is to define a vision and then develop strategies and initiatives that build on our strengths and allow Holy Cross to meet the challenges we know we will face in the coming decade as we seek to continue to be a highly selective Jesuit liberal arts college. These challenges include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Access and Affordability:  How do we continue to serve a population of students that is intentionally diverse with a variety of socio-economic realities?
  • Financial Sustainability: We know that we cannot continue to raise tuition indefinitely.  How do we create a structure that is financially sustainable? What does that mean in terms of the size and composition of the student body and faculty and staff to accompany them?
  • Demographics: We know the population of college-age students is declining in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and we know the population of college-age students who identify as Catholic is declining.  How will we position ourselves to ensure that we continue to enroll a population of students that are highly ranked academically and will contribute to our institutional mission in multiple ways?
  • Liberal Arts for the 21st Century:  How do we continue to ensure that our academic programs are preparing students for the future, preparing them for careers, forming them as men and women who are committed to the common good, giving them the intellectual, personal, spiritual and ethical resources to support them as they create lives of meaning in the world?  Who do we need to attract as faculty and staff to support this commitment?
  • Community: How do we build a community of mutual respect, supportive of our mission, one that is inclusive, respects multiple perspectives and promotes the well-being of all? What are the resources we need to support such a community?

Consequently, to address these most obvious needs, and others yet to be discussed, we are beginning this work now and continue through the next academic, culminating with recommendations to be shared with the Board of Trustees in April 2021.

The process will be guided by a Strategic Planning Steering Committee, co-chaired by Kenneth Mills, Professor of Chemistry and Ellen Keohane, Chief Information Officer. The Steering Committee will also include faculty, staff, students, and members of the Executive Team and the Board of Trustees. This group will have responsibility for guiding this process with the support of CFAR, a consulting group with deep experience working on strategic planning in higher education.

It will be a priority of the Steering Committee to create a systematic, open and inclusive process that brings all stakeholders together to engage in the strategic questions and articulate a forward-looking vision and set of priorities for the College. CFAR will hold a series of meetings this semester to engage the community --- both to reflect on the challenges we have identified and to hear the concerns of the community that we might be missing. I hope that many of you will choose to participate, as your input is critically important. In addition to holding open sessions CFAR will be setting up a tool for gathering input online for any who cannot participate in an in-person session. 

2.         NECHE Accreditation Process

I am also happy to report that the College’s self-study has been submitted to the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE) for our comprehensive 10-year accreditation review. The self-study narrative is available to the campus community through the Accreditation2020 drive. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to the members of the steering committee, especially Denise Schaeffer who served as chair, and to all who contributed to the preparation of this document, whether by serving on a subcommittee, attending an open meeting, providing vital information, documentation and feedback, or by taking the time to read and comment on chapter drafts.

The next step in the re-accreditation process will be a campus visit by a team of faculty and administrators from peer institutions, appointed by NECHE, who will serve as external evaluators. Their visit to Holy Cross will include two full days on campus (Monday, March  23rd,  and Tuesday, March 24th) during which they will meet with a wide range of individuals and groups, and hold open listening sessions. I hope you will make note of these dates and take time to participate in this important process.  

3.         Mission Priority Examen

Last spring we completed the Mission Priority Examen process, a process of self-reflection and subsequent peer review informed by criteria established by the AJCU in collaboration with the leadership of the Society of Jesus and the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome. Through the process we identified institutional priorities for the next several years that promote our mission as a Catholic/Jesuit, liberal arts undergraduate college. In December, I received a letter from Fr. John Cecero, provincial of the Northeast province of the Society of Jesus, informing me that the Superior General of the Society, Fr. Arturo Sosa, had reviewed our documents and confirmed Holy Cross’ Jesuit identity. Fr. Cecero let me know that Fr. Sosa was impressed with the ways in which our Catholic and Jesuit mission is alive and well throughout our community and that he was happy to read about our 3 stated priorities of (1) reaffirming and celebrating our opportunities, (2) improving our campus climate and striving to form a community that embraces our increasing diversity and (3) enhancing and clarifying an articulation of what it means for the College of the Holy Cross to be a Jesuit and Catholic institution. I want to thank the many of you who participated in the Mission Priority Examen process, particularly the steering committee led by Fr. Bill Campbell, our former vice president for mission. 

4.         VP for Institutional Mission and Ministry:

The search for a Vice President for Institutional Mission and Ministry that we began last fall continues. We had 3 finalists come to campus in the fall. While each of the candidates brought strengths to the role, ultimately none of them were right for Holy Cross at this time for a variety of reasons. We have re-launched this search with the goal of filling the position by the summer. 

5.         Enrollment Manager

Finally, we will be establishing a search committee to begin a search for an Enrollment Manager. Given the complexities of enrolling an academically prepared, committed, diverse and appropriately sized class each year; the importance of distributing significant financial aid to ensure that we are able to continue to serve traditionally underserved populations; and the rapidly changing higher education landscape, the College has asked the search firm Isaacson Miller to assist us in identifying qualified candidates to lead our enrollment efforts. 

Thank you for reading this far! I realize that we have several initiatives requiring our attention and participation, and yet, I also know that, as we attend to them, we are preparing for a vibrant future for the College.  

All the very best,

Phil Boroughs, S.J.