Manitowoc college unveils campus plans
Focused strategic plans meant to draw, involve, students
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
MANITOWOC -- Step inside the main entrance for a view of the future of Silver Lake College. A diagram in the lobby displays proposed changes as part of a new Campus Master Plan.
New buildings featured in the plan are a music studies and performance center, a wellness recreation athletic facility, a renovated Clare Hall with student housing, an extension of the college's art facilities and a three-floor information center with library space on the top two floors. The current library will be converted to a student center.
"We've been pleasantly aggressive," said Dr. George Arnold, Silver Lake College president. "People haven't been afraid to push the envelope. We've been doing a lot of strategic planning that has been extremely focused. There have been performance measures throughout the plan. It's really worked out well. We have five main priorities."
Those priorities are:
- Strengthening the curriculum and activities outside the classroom.
- Working on the infrastructure to support professional growth.
- Building a student service culture.
- Transforming the physical environment.
- Increasing enrollment and financial resources.
The large priorities have been in place for a number of years, said Arnold, but the implementation plans have changed significantly. Last year, a group made up of a college board member, three faculty members, three staff members and Arnold's administration leadership team, met once a month to plan ahead and review progress. Implementation of the plans is expected to take 10 years.
The building projects highlight the strategic plans, but Arnold said the proposals go beyond the physical changes.
"If all you see is brick and mortar, you are missing the point," he said. "The goal is to create an environment. That's our mission. That's what we are trying to do. The mission is the people, the spirit. It's not the buildings."
He points to the residence space in Clare Hall as an example. Silver Lake currently has student apartments available near campus, but does not have on-campus housing.
"That will help build community," said Arnold. "We foresee freshmen and sophomores living on campus and keeping the apartment housing for the juniors and seniors who want to live off campus. Keeping the apartments also allows us to keep a presence in the Manitowoc community, which is important to us."
On-campus housing will also help undergraduate enrollment grow, he added.
"We've been very successful with our adult programs, but we need to be equally as successful with our undergraduate programs," he said. "We need to build that foundation."
Last year, Silver Lake had 241 full-time students. The total school population was 1,682, including students involved in graduate studies, commissioned ministry and adult programs.
The strategic plans represent long-term changes, but several new additions to the college are in place this semester including a disc golf course, student art gallery and men's basketball program.
Arnold's wife, Donna, a Silver Lake volunteer, has assisted with the new "One Campus" program. The entire college - students, faculty and staff - are invited to read one book featuring a Franciscan theme. Those participating in the program are invited to gather for dinner meetings and discussions.
The Lessons of Saint Francis: How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality into Your Daily Life by John Michael Talbot and Steve Rabey was selected as the first book in the program.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for the entire college to come together," said Donna. "Learning outside the classroom also helps build community, and that's when the college's mission really comes alive."
The strength of the college's Campus Ministry Program, under the leadership of Franciscan Sr. Lynne Jagemann, and student service trips to Mississippi are other examples of the college's mission in action, said Dr. Arnold.
"We continue to work to create that total environment for our students," he said. "We're not perfect. We have a lot of work do, but we're moving in the right direction."
(For more information about Silver Lake College, visit the college Web site at www.sl.edu.)