Goal: Fortify the Distinctive Attributes of the College
Unlike many other liberal arts colleges, Sarah Lawrence offers a genuinely distinctive educational experience, grounded in a firmly held philosophy and approach to learning and teaching.
To deliver on our promise, we must nurture and fortify those distinctive attributes that are at the heart of our purpose, and create the unique value in our education: our First Year Studies experience that prepares students for the rigors and pleasures of a Sarah Lawrence education while it introduces them to a field of study; the Donning system that goes well beyond traditional academic advising to build students’ capacities to direct their educations and make life choices; the Conference system, in which faculty have standing, one-on-one appointments with each of their students, and which gives full scope to each student’s interests and passions, while providing a disciplined framework for these explorations, and Practice-Based Learning that allows students to apply and test the theories they discuss in the classroom, and develop new models grounded in experience.
The distinctive features of our model must work with a high degree of efficacy and consistency in order to provide a successful intellectual and personal experience for students; we know that the quality of these experiences contribute significantly to student satisfaction and retention, as well as to alumnae/I engagement after school.
The effectiveness of our system depends on our ability to support our unique faculty—accomplished scholars and artists who teach subjects of their choice and who put teaching and student development at the heart of their work. These actively engaged scholar-teachers are present on campus and work with students throughout the day, at least four days a week. This paradigm is divergent from other colleges and universities, where full-time faculty often spend half that amount of time on campus, and while it exacts a higher level of engagement from our faculty, it also creates a more cohesive sense of community that affects the functioning of the entire school.
- Assess and strengthen the core elements of the Sarah Lawrence educational model
- Ensure the first year academic experience meets the needs of new students
- Review and enhance Donning, Conference System and Practice-Based Learning
- Implement faculty training, enhance communication regarding expectations
- Preserve and, when finances permit, enhance our low student-faculty ratio, an essential component of Donning, the Conference System, and institutional support for faculty development.
- Support the professional and artistic development of the faculty within a culture of teaching and learning
- Strengthen support for artistic and scholarly work
- Strengthen opportunities for collaboration
- Encourage faculty-led instructional and curricular innovations to bolster and advance our educational approach, and invest in the depth of academic offerings
- Improve physical working environment, including dining facilities and offices