An Open Letter on Strategic Planning

Dear colleagues,

We, the undersigned faculty, stand for a democratic Bucknell. We affirm that the primary goals of our university, as clearly stated in our mission, are the pursuit of knowledge, the fostering of critical thought, and the promotion of the “common good.” We believe that for these goals to be met, the university must be a place where decisions are made collectively and democratically, informed by transparent processes, and deliberated within spaces where meaningful participation and dialogue are open and accessible to all.

We believe that the Strategic Plan falls well short of this ideal, and we would like to offer a new direction for strategic planning that engages the existing shared governance system. We care deeply about many of the issues raised in the strategic plan. Yet we also believe that how we strive for the change we all seek matters. We can't arrive at a plan that seeks a transparent, inclusive, and equitable Bucknell by using practices that compromise those very ideals.

The final Plan reflects the undemocratic nature of its creation. The administration dictated a planning process that:

1. Undermines basic tenets of transparency and democratic participation by:

A. Determining the parameters and scope of the plan before soliciting community involvement;

B. Substituting one-way, individualized feedback collection methods such as office hours and online surveys for genuine community deliberation;

C. Withholding process documents and final reports from the community at large.

2. Violates Faculty Handbook language on the purpose and purview of the University Council within university planning (see Section II E). The Handbook clearly outlines how the faculty previously determined that strategic planning ought to take place. It also stipulates the equitable composition of such a committee, including the ratio of faculty and students to administrators. Though imperfect, this was meant to safeguard against many of the concerns raised throughout the drafting of the current Strategic Plan.

As a result, the process has privileged certain voices and marginalized others (untenured faculty, women, people of color, non-administrative staff, and students) by prioritizing those individuals most comfortable sharing their perspectives and concerns in the predetermined format. Accepting this Strategic Plan thus de-legitimizes our commitment to inclusion and diversity and inhibits our ability to imagine ourselves in new ways.

We propose the creation of a Strategic Plan Oversight Committee (SPOC) as a corrective to the existing strategic planning process. The SPOC will:

1. Ensure that the interpretation and implementation of the Strategic Plan align with what we believe to be the primary goals of the University (as outlined above).

2. Be comprised of an elected body of faculty, students, and staff ranked at or below the director level.

3. Have equal representation of tenured and untenured faculty members.

The Strategic Plan will likely be adopted regardless of how faculty vote. Nevertheless, a NO vote will both register our disappointment with the strategic planning process and indicate our commitment to its democratic and deliberative implementation. We invite any member of the faculty who shares our concerns with the Strategic Plan, its process, and its outcome to sign this document and join us in voting NO on Tuesday. We also encourage you to join us in bringing forth a motion for the creation of the SPOC. If you are untenured and would like to sign this document anonymously, please get in touch with any of the tenured faculty on this list or another tenured faculty member you trust.

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