I celebrated the beginning of summer in Italy with my wife, Benna; College Trustee Jeff Oesterle ’76, his wife, Teri, and their daughter, Gail; Dean of Students Gary Ireland; Vice President for Institutional Advancement Rick Spencer; Head Football Coach John Thorne, his wife, Kathie, their son, Jeff, and a grandson, Payton; and 58 North Central football players and their coaches. While some may have thought this eight-day trip to Rome, Florence and Venice — underwritten by generous Cardinal supporters — was all about football, I knew differently. Only a handful of the young men had ever been outside the United States. For many, it was a life-changing experience; for all, a memory never-to-be forgotten.
This trip, although unusual in its purpose and the size of the group, is symptomatic of a major development at North Central College in recent years — the growing number of students traveling abroad as part of their college experience. This was a goal in our 2002-07 Strategic Plan, reflecting a belief that students will not be prepared for the inter-connected world of the 21st century if they do not have first-hand experience with that wider world. (The last issue of North Central Now featured another way that we achieve this goal, which is to bring more international students to campus. Since then, we hired our first full-time international student recruiter.)
Under the able direction of Professor of English and Director of International Programs Jack Shindler, the College has greatly expanded opportunities for study abroad. This summer students are in Mexico and Bolivia on ministry and service trips. This fall there will be 71 North Central College students studying in 10 foreign countries, including the College’s four new programs in Costa Rica, Spain, Kenya and England; and 12 students will study in both Japan and China. During interim term, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there will be five three-credit courses offered in Costa Rica, Greece, Germany, Mexico and France, and the Students In Free Enterprise team will return to Guatemala. And this is only a partial list of all that’s going on.
Events in the Middle East and across the globe since the College’s last Strategic Plan reinforce how important internationalizing the experience of North Central students was … and is. And how important it is to get things
right when establishing goals for the College. Which brings me to goal-setting for 2007-12.
When classes resume in September, the College will begin a process — extending throughout the academic
year and encompassing every segment of the North Central community — to develop our next five-year Strategic Plan, my fourth since becoming president in 1991. This plan will take us through the College’s Sesquicentennial in 2011, our 10-year accreditation review (2009-10), and the once-a-decade update of the Master Land Use Plan required by the City of Naperville (2010).
Not surprisingly, “planning for the planning” has been a significant concern this summer for the College’s administrative vice presidents — Dr. Devadoss Pandian (academic affairs), Paul Loscheider (business affairs),
Laurie Hamen (enrollment management, student affairs and athletics) and Rick Spencer (institutional advancement). What is most remarkable about this team, who together constitute the College’s administrative cabinet, is the experience and dedication they bring to every challenge. The youngest is a 10-year North Central veteran; the longest-standing, a staff member for three decades. The College is very fortunate to have such continuity — and talent — in these leadership positions. One reason for their effectiveness is that they know they don’t have all the answers. Indeed, as we start the planning process, their goal is to utilize the expertise and energy and vision of faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and friends to the fullest extent — both to set ambitious, forward-looking but realistic goals and to achieve them. So please check in as the planning process proceeds at http://northcentralcollege.edu/sites/default/files/Documents/PDF/Strategic%20Plan.pdf
Harold R. Wilde
North Central Now, September 2006