2009 Community Colloquium: Challenges and Opportunities

Members of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary gathered in Foy Hall Thursday August 27, 2009 to hear President Thomforde present the twelfth annual Community Colloquium.

"Our common mission makes us a community," said President Thomforde at the outset of his address. "It should inform all of our endeavors."

President Thomforde reviewed the College’s progress with each of the seven initiatives of the strategic plan. Enrollment, under Vice President Bernie Story, met or exceeded many of its goals, with 379 first-year students (the fifth-largest class in Moravian College history) enrolled for the coming year despite an extremely challenging recruiting environment. Twenty percent of incoming freshmen are from under-represented groups, an important achievement related to the first strategic initiative: ensuring accessibility to students of all backgrounds. Other highlights of the past year included the completion of the Hurd Integrated Living and Learning facility, the expansion of the Comenius Center, the addition of important faculty and staff positions, and a positive response to the first stages of the new capital campaign.

President Thomforde outlined five goals for the coming year: 1) advance the strategic plan in accordance with our resources; 2) manage change and guide the process of "Determining Our Future: Thriving in the Midst of Uncertainty;" 3) generate revenue to support the work of Moravian College; 4) consider new ways to organize, develop, and utilize administrative and support staffs; and 5) improve communications.

"Determining Our Future"
Goal two, a visioning process for the future of Moravian College, is necessary because "many of the assumptions that shaped private institutions of higher education in the past are changing," explained President Thomforde. Factors affecting future sustainability include who will attend colleges in the future and parents' and students' ability to afford costs; the diminished perceived value of a liberal arts education; and the current financial model of private institutions (high tuition that requires high levels of financial aid and aggressive fund-raising).

The "Determining Our Future" visioning process will begin in early September, when Vice President Dennis Domchek and his staff complete a re-evaluation of financial resources (based on projections of enrollment, financial aid, annual fund and endowment levels, health care and utility costs, and salary increases) over the next five years. In response to a question about sources of funding, Vice President Domchek noted that "our operational budget must be funded by ongoing sources of revenue, and capital projects must be funded by gifts—not by our operational budget."

The Moravian community is invited to imagine a new, more viable future for Moravian and to submit their concepts to senior staff or directly to President Thomforde. From November to March, senior staff and three members of the faculty will review and critique the ideas, then will share them through a series of meetings and forums. Senior staff and the three faculty members will make modifications and submit a recommendation to President Thomforde, who then will present a final recommendation, first to faculty members, then to the board of trustees in April for their evaluation and approval.

President Thomforde concluded the Colloquium by reminding the community of the core values that define the institution: community, liberal learning, professional service, and stewardship. "We look forward to the coming year with an awareness of the need to be prudent, while keeping our eyes on the future, for those who will follow us," he said.