Trustees Vote Unanimously to Advance Pitzer Strategic Plan to Implementation

Dear Pitzer Community,

The Pitzer College Strategic Plan was unanimously approved by the College Board of Trustees on Friday, May 17. This important milestone for the College followed a unanimous approval by the College Council and more than a year of information-gathering and priority-setting by the entire College community. As a result, Pitzer now enters the third and final phase of its Strategic Plan for 2019-2024.

Through the strategic planning process, four distinct yet overlapping goals were identified by students, faculty, staff and alumni as most relevant to the future of Pitzer College:

  1. Broaden the interdisciplinary landscape and expand academic resources to better equip students to engage holistically with the complex problems of the world.
  2. Advance a College-wide sense of community and engagement by cultivating an environment in which students, faculty and staff all thrive.
  3. Deepen our commitment to financial sustainability to promote broader access to a Pitzer education and create adaptability in response to the evolving higher education landscape.
  4. Develop a culture of inclusive, intentional, and transparent planning and decision-making.

Over the past year, Pitzer’s strategic planning team guided the College community through 12 strategic planning meetings, 13 working group meetings, more than 25 remote meetings and interviews, 50+ in-person meetings, multiple surveys with more than 800 participant responses, four campus visits by Pitzer’s consultants and a two-day capstone retreat where all constituencies participated in drafting the plan.

The successful completion of this Strategic Plan to date reflects the strength, vision and collaboration of our Pitzer community.  I am confident that as we move ahead into the implementation process over the months ahead, we will accurately and effectively respond to the priorities of our community members.

I’d like to express my thanks to the members of our Strategic Planning Committee led by co-chairs Professor Brinda Sarathy and Trustee Don Gould, the members of all the working groups and the entire Pitzer community – on-campus and off – for your participation. I look forward to continuing our work together to realize the goals of the Pitzer Strategic Plan for the next five years.

Melvin L. Oliver

Strategic Plan: A message of thanks from President Melvin L. Oliver

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Trustees,

Following a year of intense collaboration involving countless Pitzer College community members, I am delighted that our strategic planning goals and objectives were approved unanimously by the College Council on April 25.  Completing the strategic plan during this academic year was an aggressive goal and we should be proud of the hard work that went into this milestone achievement.

The strategic planning process was truly a community endeavor in the best of Pitzer traditions. A number of key conversations during the 2017-18 academic year gave us a running start as we began information gathering efforts in the fall semester.  Hundreds of community members contributed to the development of the planning themes.  Over 800 people responded to our surveys, another 800+ comments were shared during the November Idea Wall activities, and over 250 people met with our planning consultants, Keeling & Associates, during their campus visits.  The breadth of our community commitment gives me confidence that the strategic plan accurately reflects our priorities for Pitzer in the coming five years.

Please join me in thanking some of the key contributors to this process, starting with the members of the Strategic Planning Committee, co-chairs Brinda Sarathy (faculty) and Don Gould (trustee), Melissa Coleman (faculty), Brendan Schultz (student), Matthew Brunstad (student), Shahan Soghikian (trustee), Carlos Alvarez (staff) and Mike Segawa (staff).  The SPC’s leadership was invaluable and we are fortunate to benefit from their wisdom and dedication to the College.  In addition, our Working Groups were instrumental in bringing key perspectives from a broader range of campus constituents, and we extend our thanks to those individuals for their critical work.  Finally, Jamie Jorgensen, Melanie Lacy and the Keeling & Associates team were key players in keeping our process focused and organized.

On May 17, we will present the strategic planning goals and objectives to the Board of Trustees for approval.  Assuming approval by the Board, we will begin the equally important work of implementing the strategic plan.  We will again need to rely on Pitzer’s collaborative spirit to implement our plan successfully.

I can think of no better person to lead these efforts than Jim Marchant, and so I am very pleased to announce that Jim has agreed to take on the new role of Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Community Relations.  Jim’s role will be to bring focus to the achievement of our goals by coordinating the efforts of key people, internal and external constituencies, and resources to formulate a workable tactical plan that will lead to measurable and concrete outcomes. Jim brings decades of experience at Pitzer to this important work, and his familiarity with our campus and the challenges we face make him ideally suited for this project. Jim will begin by working with the summer FEC and continuing his work in the fall with our existing committees to build an implementation plan that will involve a cross-section of our community.  Please join me in congratulating Jim on his new role.

Again, I want to thank all the many contributors to our strategic planning process.  I very much look forward to building on the outstanding work that has been done and engaging with you as we pursue our goals together.

Melvin L. Oliver

Next Steps: Strategic Planning

Phase 1 of Pitzer’s Strategic Planning process – Engagement, Information Gathering and Planning Themes – is complete. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Pitzer’s future! We are grateful for the time and consideration you have dedicated thus far.

What’s next? 

Now, we get down to the work of identifying and prioritizing the goals and objectives that should be included in the strategic plan. This important shared governance project will establish Pitzer’s strategic priorities for the coming years. 

Keeling & Associates, our strategic planning consultants, will return to campus next Wednesday and Thursday to share the planning themes that emerged in Phase 1 and engage the community in discussions about next steps for Pitzer’s strategic plan.  Join us for these topic-related FORUMS:

Date & Time Topic Location
Wed, Feb 6
3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
Campus Life & Climate GSC Multipurpose Room North
Wed, Feb 6
3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
Financial Sustainability, Facilities and IT GSC Multipurpose Room South
Thurs, Feb 7
2:30 – 3:45 p.m.
Academic Planning GSC Multipurpose South
Thurs, Feb 7
4:15 – 5:30 p.m.
Open Forum (All Themes) McConnell Center Founders Room

See you at the Forums!Your Representatives
Strategic Planning Committee

Strategic Plan Survey

We want your feedback for the future of Pitzer College

Dear Pitzer Community,

Pitzer College is engaged in a strategic planning process this year to define our key priorities and goals that will guide decision making for the coming three to five years. We are writing to ask you to complete this online survey because your input—your ideas, opinions and recommendations—are important!

Completing the survey should take approximately 15 minutes, but your input will influence Pitzer’s direction for years to come. We sincerely appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. Please make completing the survey a priority.

To complete the survey, please go to:

The responses you give on this survey are strictly confidential. The survey is being administered by our consultants, Keeling & Associates, LLC (K&A). It is K&A, and not Pitzer, who will receive and have access to your individual survey responses. No member of the faculty, staff or student at the College, including the Strategic Planning Committee, will see individual responses. The report of survey results will contain aggregated data only, without any identification of individual respondents or responses. Summary results of the survey and other information-gathering efforts to date will be shared with the College community next semester.

Thank you for your time and input.

Provida Futuri,

Melvin L. Oliver

A Message from the Strategic Planning Committee

Dear Pitzer Community,

We write on behalf of the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) to update you on the College’s strategic planning process and to let you know about important opportunities to participate during the coming months.

Thank you to all who were able to participate in last week’s strategic planning meetings and activities, as well as the activities held during the first week of October. We are grateful that so many of you have taken the time to attend and contribute thoughtfully to the planning process.

Our activities to date have included the following, all of which have been facilitated by our strategic planning consultants, Keeling & Associates (K&A):

  • Discussion during the October 4 College Council meeting, attended by approximately 110 individuals.
  • Idea Wall exercises on Monday, November 5 and Tuesday, November 6 in the McConnell lobby, which was visited by students, as well as faculty and staff, over the course of six hours—drawing well over 700 responses to the six questions.
  • Presentation and discussion during the October 12 Board of Trustees meeting.
  • 48 individual and small group interviews, which were attended by approximately 225 faculty, staff, students, parents, and staff members from the Claremont Colleges Services.
  • Meetings on November 5-7 with each of the three Working Groups to identify key issues to be discussed during the strategic planning process and to discuss data and information needed to consider these issues

Whether or not you had the opportunity to participate in these activities, we hope you will participate in a confidential online survey, open to all members of the Pitzer community (faculty, staff, students, parents, trustees, and alumni). The first phase of the survey is set to launch on Tuesday, November 27, and will ask questions about your experiences and your ideas and recommendations for Pitzer’s future. Your participation is essential to ensuring Pitzer’s next strategic plan truly reflects the goals of its community.

In addition to the survey, our next steps include the following:

  • K&A will share a summary of the Idea Wall activities, including the number of comments and themes and ideas generated. We will share that summary on our website.
  • Members of the SPC and Working Groups will meet regularly between now and the end of the semester to discuss emerging issues and ideas for the strategic plan.
  • Members of the SPC and Working Groups may also engage additional members of the Pitzer community in conversation to ensure as many voices as possible are heard during this process.
  • During intersession, K&A will analyze all of the data collected to date and create a list of preliminary themes. These themes will be shared with the College community during K&A’s next visit, likely in early February.

If you would like to share feedback on any of these activities, or the planning process in general, please feel free to contact the co-chairs or a member of the SPC

With best wishes for the remainder of the semester and a restful Thanksgiving break.

Brinda Sarathy and Don Gould
Co-Chairs, Strategic Planning Committee

Strategic Planning Update: November 1, 2018


Greetings, Pitzer Community,

I’m writing to share a brief update on the strategic planning process that kicked off with a campus visit from our consultant, Keeling & Associates, in early October.  K&A returns to Pitzer next week, November 5-7, to hold additional meetings with campus stakeholders.  Here is some important information for you in advance of their visit.

Strategic Planning Committee (SPC)

  • SPC work is underway.  The SPC has appointed Brinda Sarathy and Don Gould to serve as co-chairs and has been busy seeking participants for the Working Groups and discussing how best to gather and organize input from the campus.

Working Groups

  • The SPC is assembling the Working Groups. We will share a complete list of participants with you as soon as membership is finalized.  One of the original Working Groups, Facilities and IT, has been consolidated with the Financial Sustainability Working Group to integrate planning efforts in those two areas.
  • Each Working Group has appointed facilitators to lead the groups:
    • Financial Sustainability/Facilities & IT:  Laura Troendle, Treasurer
    • Academic Planning:  Melissa Coleman, Professor of Biology, and Brendan Schultz, Student Senate
    • Campus Life and Climate:  Mike Segawa, Vice President for Student Affairs

Keeling & Associates – Campus Visit Nov. 5-7

  • The team from Keeling & Associates, our strategic planning consultant, will return to campus next week, November 5-7, to meet with members of the Pitzer community.  The SPC has identified a broad representative set of individuals and groups from across the Pitzer community for these meetings.
  • K&A will be hosting Idea Wall sessions in the McConnell Hall lobby Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday, 3-6 p.m. Pitzer students, faculty, and staff will have the chance to post their thoughts about important strategic planning questions and respond to comments from others.  This is a great opportunity to brainstorm ideas with your friends and colleagues. Please make an effort to stop by and share your thoughts!

Upcoming Events

  • K&A will administer an anonymous survey to all Pitzer students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and trustees after the Thanksgiving holiday.  The survey will include some open-ended questions that will give you an additional opportunity to share your thoughts.  More information to come.
  • Over the holidays, K&A will organize and review all the information that has been shared – the community input from meetings held last year, ideas shared in meetings with K&A during campus visits, Idea Wall input and survey results.
  • K&A will return to campus in late January/early February 2019 to present planning themes that emerged from these inputs.  We will host additional meetings, including a town hall meeting, to discuss these themes and gauge whether they fairly represent the community’s views.
  • The SPC and other community members will then meet with K&A in March to further develop the themes into a draft planning document which will be reviewed by the community before it is finalized as the new Strategic Plan.

Information about the planning process can be found here: Please contact me if you have questions or concerns and thank you for your continued support!

Provida Futuri,

Jamie Jorgensen




Strategic Planning Update: October 3, 2018

Greetings Pitzer Community,

Last week, President Oliver announced the kick-off of Pitzer College’s strategic planning process this academic year. Today, strategic planning consultants from Keeling & Associates are on campus to help us continue the discussion about Pitzer’s future. On Thursday, every member of the Pitzer community is encouraged to attend College Council at 4:15 p.m. in the McConnell Center Founders Room. The meeting agenda is dedicated to a strategic planning discussion facilitated by K&A.

While on campus, K&A will meet with the president’s cabinet, FEC, Diversity Committee, APC, BIC, Student Senate Executive and Identity boards. A few additional meeting times are available. If you are interested in an individual or small group conversation with K&A, please contact me at

Pitzer is dedicated to a transparent and inclusive planning process. If you are unable to meet with K&A this week, they will be back on campus in November or arrangements can be made for telephone/video conferences.

I’m also pleased to announce our Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) members:

Faculty:               Brinda Sarathy and Melissa Coleman

Students:             Matthew Brunstad ’20 and Brendan Schultz ’20

Staff:                    Carlos Alvarez ’15 and Mike Segawa

Trustees:             Don Gould and Shahan Soghikian ’80, P’22

President Oliver will also serve in an ex officio capacity.  The SPC will oversee the planning process; formulate and vet planning themes with the Pitzer community; and work with K&A to draft the Pitzer Strategic Plan. Please join me in thanking them for this important service to the College.

Finally, we have created a Pitzer College 2018-19 strategic planning web page where we will post announcements and updates as the process moves forward.

Thank you. I hope to seeing you Thursday at College Council as we embark on Pitzer’s future together.

Provida Futuri,
Jamie Jorgensen

Pitzer Strategic Planning webpage

Project Brief

Keeling & Associates team bios

Strategic Planning Committee

The Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) membership is comprised of two members from each group faculty, staff, students and trustees.

Faculty: Brinda Sarathy (co-chair) and Melissa Coleman
Staff: Carlos Alvarez ’15, Mike Segawa
Students: Matthew Brunstad ’20, Brendan Schultz ’20
Trustees: Don Gould (co-chair) and Shahan Soghikian ’80, P’20

Strategic Plan 2019

Dear Pitzer Community,

I am writing to you to announce the kick-off of our strategic planning process this academic year. This is an exciting and critically important opportunity for our community to set the direction of the future of Pitzer College.

Last year, the campus engaged in several strategic planning discussions and we will be using the information gathered at those meetings to springboard into the planning process this year. We have interviewed a number of strategic planning consulting firms and I am pleased to share that Keeling & Associates (K&A) will be assisting us with our strategic plan. K&A has extensive experience in higher education consulting and planning, having worked with many colleges and universities, including mission-driven liberal arts colleges like Pitzer. K&A understands and appreciates Pitzer’s core values, including the importance of an inclusive process where all voices have the opportunity to contribute. I am confident that K&A will be a great partner and I want to thank the committee (Professors Sharon Snowiss and Emma Stephens, Office of Admission and Financial Aid Operations Manager Kristina Kelpe, Trustees Don Gould and Tom Brock, Dean of Faculty Nigel Boyle and Chief of Staff/Chief Legal Counsel Jamie Jorgensen) who helped me in the selection process.

This one-page project brief outlines the steps in the process and the timeline. K&A will make its first of two fall semester campus visits next week, October 3-5. The agenda for the College Council meeting on October 4 is dedicated to discussing the process with K&A and to gathering feedback. Please attend if you can. K&A also plans to meet with the Faculty Executive Committee, the Diversity Committee, my cabinet and as many other stakeholders as we can accommodate. We will also post a strategic planning webpage with updates about what’s been done, what’s to come and how you can get involved.

I have been working with the governance groups to staff a Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) that will coordinate our efforts. The SPC membership will be finalized in the coming days with representation from faculty, students, staff and trustees. In addition, we will scaffold “working groups” focused on academic planning, economic sustainability, campus life and climate, and facilities (and possibly other subjects) onto existing governance committees to the greatest extent possible.

We hope to finish the strategic plan and develop an implementation plan by the end of this academic year so that we can begin executing our strategic initiatives in the fall of 2019. This is an ambitious schedule and I am asking for your cooperation as we move forward.

Strategic planning is more than developing “wish lists” of our favorite projects; it requires us to make choices and set priorities. We will need to listen to each other and strive to understand points of view that may be different from our own. It offers both responsibility and opportunity for us to create a shared vision for the future of Pitzer College. The success of our strategic planning depends on our whole community being engaged and I urge all of you to join in the process.

Provida Futuri,

Melvin L. Oliver