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Discussions with Dan: the Strategic Plan

Last Wednesday President Dan Weiss spoke with students in Sharpless Auditorium about the Strategic Plan, and his vision for the College in the coming years, the second in a series of informal talks organized by Students’ Council, called “Discussions with Dan.”

After giving an overview of the Strategic Plan, a document articulating and defining priorities for the College and its resources, Weiss took general questions from students.

One of key part of the Plan is “space planning,” which includes renovations of four main buildings: Sharpless, which will happen during Summer 2014; renovation of Ryan Gym as a center for visual media, arts and culture;  the music library in Union Hall and Magill library. The Sharpless and Ryan Gym renovations will move forward this year.

Weiss also highlighted that Information Technology was an important issue he hopes to address, acknowledging that the College’s IT infrastructure is a problem and he knows the students and faculty want more reliable service.

Weiss also expressed a desire to hear from students about their experience, as the College is engaged in ongoing discussions about whether the College is providing adequate leadership training and supporting students properly.

The no loan financial aid policy was also discussed in depth. According to Weiss, out of the $250 million that Haverford hopes to raise in the coming Campaign, 25% will be set aside for financial aid, the single largest area for fundraising.  The policy, which has been routinely discussed and reevaluated since it was first implemented for the class of 2012, is currently being reconsidered by the Board

Weiss said that Haverford would not implement a policy that would place an onerous loan burden on our graduates.

On the issue of financial aid to undocumented students, Weiss said there was “no question whether students deserve the financial aid,” but cited legal questions and concerns about the extent to which the College’s aid policy could stretch to help them.

Even given the financial cost of the no loan policy and the fact that undocumented students are not eligible to receive federal aid, Weiss said that “doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. We’re trying to figure out how to do it. It’s difficult for a full ride, but we can help them in some way.”

Students also asked Weiss about the hiring of new faculty and the Tri-College Consortium.

When asked about the hiring of international faculty and faculty of color, President Weiss acknowledged that “we are not a diverse enough faculty – that’s an issue,” going on to say that one of the challenges Haverford has to face is defining academic fields that are more diverse than they historically have been.

Asked about the Bi-College relationship, Weiss said he meets with Bryn Mawr’s president weekly. He also hopes to learn more about the perspective of Haverford students on Bryn Mawr. On Swarthmore College, Weiss said there is a lot of good will at the presidential level and they are working on the differences.