The Marlboro Record

Task Force Imagines the Future

Expanding enrollment (see next page) and developing a marketing plan that differentiates Marlboro from other colleges were just two of the 11 recommendations by the Task Force on the Future, as adopted at the trustees’ meeting in July. The task force was assembled last year to provide the trustees with advice and direction to navigate future challenges.

“There was a strong sense of commitment to the mission of Marlboro as well as a robust inquiry into that mission’s meaning in the context of today’s higher education realities, ” said Holly Manley ’82, vice president of the Alumni Council and task force member. “Gathering such a broad array of constituents was very helpful, both as a self-examination exercise and in laying the foundation for the future of the college.”

Made up of 17 students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees, the task force met regularly over the past six months, gathering information on college resources and strengths, identifying future challenges and suggesting responses to those challenges. The recommendations range from strengthening collaboration between the undergraduate program and the graduate school to more clearly defining self-governance at Marlboro, but the real transformation may have come in the process.

“It was important for each of us to challenge our assumptions and our long-held points of view—or at least be forced to defend them in a careful and reasoned manner,” said Todd Smith, professor of biochemistry.

“The general consensus was very positive,” added Tobias Gelston, academic technology coordinator, who presented material about the rapid change of technology at the college in the past three years. “I feel that everyone at the table, hearing and sharing the various opinions, all came away with an even greater appreciation for the value of a Marlboro education.”

The task force recommendations found resonance in the four major strategic goals adopted by the community last year (see sidebar), supporting them with forward-thinking research and constituent consensus. For example, the recommendation to make capital improvements, including energy conservation and alternative energy sources, gives credence to goal four: “To improve the physical environment, reflecting the qualities of a Marlboro education.”

“The global perspective mentioned in the mission statement of the college relates directly to the task force’s emphasis on sustainability, with more focus on energy conservation, environmental stewardship and links to local food,” said trustee Karen Davis, a farm manager in Petersham, Massachusetts, and parent of Jake Davis ’03. “The college is ‘our place’ to steward.”

In addition to providing the trustees with recommendations, the task force was a valuable exercise in bringing together diverse Marlboro constituents with a common goal. The next step will involve planning action steps and engaging the community in their implementation.

Holly said, “The recommendations highlight the key challenges that Marlboro faces in the next decades and begins a crucial conversation among the college’s constituents about how to creatively meet those challenges, while remaining true to the Marlboro mission.”

For a full list of the Task Force on the Future recommendations, go to

Four Goals to Guide Marlboro 2009-2014

  1. To promote student centered learning and inspired teaching
  2. To strengthen engagement in a com- munity of learning and prepare students for lifetimes of learning, employment and citizenship
  3. To increase financial health and practice effective management
  4. To improve the physical environment, reflecting qualities of a Marlboro education