Looking Back and Looking Forward
Dear Saint Mary’s Friends,
I recently wrote a reflection for the Saint Mary’s College Courier that offered a hopeful outlook for the new year. The difficulties we all shared in 2020 were almost impossible to measure, but I suggested that the year also “yielded its share of blessings.” And I predicted: “The new year will be better. It has to be better!”
In the spirit of looking back and looking forward, I am thrilled to announce that on December 17, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a new strategic plan for the College! As a new president, I didn’t dream that we would be able to complete a strategic planning process in my first six months. Of course, I also could not have foreseen almost anything about the circumstances of 2020! Ultimately, it was clear that, in the midst of juggling so many unanticipated immediate challenges, we also needed to look forward and imagine our future.
This is exactly what our plan does. Revere and Revise: Saint Mary’s College 2030 sets a roadmap for the decade ahead. Please read it when you have the time: clearly, our future is bright! I have written many messages to the Saint Mary’s community over the past seven months, and as I glanced over them today, I found the original seeds of this plan and their flowering. In June, I documented my “Le Mans Start” and spoke of “creating momentum” and “stepping on the gas pedal” to accelerate certain changes at the College. In July, I reflected on the journey of discovery we promise our students—as well as on our duty, as educators, to “take this journey too: to cycle and recycle the terrain, to imagine and reimagine the environment that makes this magic happen, to build and rebuild it by design.” In subsequent letters, I focused on lifelong learning. I counted my blessings.
And by the end of October, I was filling you in on the process we used to develop the strategic plan—how we were building the future to scale. Using Riedinger House as an example of a house plan that was brilliantly scaled down for affordability, I suggested that our current strategic planning efforts should also attend to scale—and that some ideas should scale up! The Saint Mary’s community had no shortage of ideas, and we also benefited from planning work that happened under the leadership of previous presidents, including the published strategic priorities developed by Interim President Nancy Nekvasil during her term in office. Indeed, we’ll continue to scale up some of those commitments.
I want to thank the faculty and staff at the College: they gave so much time, energy, and constructive thinking in our planning efforts. We also consulted with students, current parents, alumnae, and friends of the College, and we learned something in every listening session and from every survey. I hope you will recognize your contributions in the final document: Revere and Revise: Saint Mary’s College 2030.
The Sisters of the Holy Cross founded Saint Mary’s in 1844, and one thing is clear: they built it to last. Every president has made a mark by advancing the Sisters’ vision—building and rebuilding by design, and building to scale. I am proud to be part of this legacy and excited to push forward, collaborating on bold moves that will ensure our future. Thank you, each of you, for your part in this important, sacred, and transformative work.
Katie Conboy, Ph.D.