Hellie outlines goals, diversity in annual college address

Elizabeth Stoeger, News editor

In his annual address, President Thomas Hellie discussed his six goals for Linfield and reviewed progress made last year.

Hellie began by reflecting on last year, “In many ways the 2014-15 year was a success but I will always remember it, and I suspect many of you will as well, for the untimely tragic death of Parker Archie Moore.”

“The strength of Linfield’s character and the depth of Linfield’s love were demonstrated again and again. We remain mournful but we should also be proud.”

We have many things to be proud of this year, especially the fact that total enrollment on the Portland campus will meet or exceed the predicted number of students.

Sophomore retention rate on the McMinnville campus is at 86.5 percent and “projections show a freshman class of 483 students, 13 above our budgeted goal … 39 percent are Americans of color, another new record for Linfield.”

Hellie highlighted the accomplishments that made the last year successful, including a $100,000 grant awarded to Linfield by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that funded the Arts and Humanities in Action pre-orientation program.

A new fundraising campaign is also in its beginning stages, “We began the quiet phase of a fundraising campaign to increase endowment for scholarships and faculty while also funding new and renovated science facilities.”

Hellie recognized faculty and staff contributions in recruiting new students, “I honestly believe that we would not have met our freshmen goal much less exceeded it without your help.” However, he also acknowledged that this meant that Linfield needed more funds and scholarships to support the increased number of students.

The funds are going “to endow student scholarships, to endow faculty positions and faulty development, to support student learning experiences including faculty-student research, and to renovate and rebuild new science facilities.”

The projected completion date is mid-2018.

Hellie’s second goal was “to strengthen programs and support for cultural diversity.”

This has been a hot-button topic at Linfield always, but especially this last year. Linfield, like every other college, has had to face relevant issues regarding race and ethnicity.

“Tuition dependent colleges that are known as bastions of ‘white-ness’ are unlikely to survive…the college itself must adapt and develop if we are to be successful.”

In a survey of seniors last year, two-thirds of students believed they needed more racial and ethnic diversity in the curriculum. They also expressed the need for more diversity in the faculty and staff.

In response to this need, Hellie created the President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity “to provide leadership and recommendations on diversity issues, particularly as they relate to ethnicity and sexual orientation.”

The committee is co-chaired by professor Dawn Graff-Haight and Shaik Ismail. They are joined by students, staff, faculty members and other administrators.

“There is still a great deal to be done on diversity at Linfield and each of us will have a role to play.”

His next objective was to “increase online and continuing education revenue.”

“During the most difficult period of the Great Recession, Linfield balanced its budget with revenues from what we then called the Division of Continuing Education. Those revenues have declined significantly over the last few years.”

This is not surprising, as this is occurring nationally, but it poses a large threat to Linfield.

“We have had balanced budgets now for 41 consecutive years. Very few colleges in the nation can make this statement but we would have had deficits in many years if not for the surplus revenues generated by what is now OCE and thus it has been and continues to be a strategic advantage for Linfield.”

Hellie expressed the need to strengthen the programs we already have, like the RN to BSN program and the online business program.

He acknowledged the growing cost of undergraduate education, saying, “Our traditional educational model is very expensive and is costing more all the time… [and] family incomes are not increasing. In fact, the family incomes of Linfield students have actually declined over the last several years. We must find other sources of revenue then to keep our traditional programs viable and accessible.”

Other priorities included developing the wine studies program which proved to be an important aspect for donors.

“This could be a decisive year for wine studies at Linfield College … we’re beginning to take advantage of our location in a way that no other college can … wine studies can play a major role in finding new donors for the science building.”

The economics, history, biochemistry, effect of climate change on wine making, and the culture revolving around wine would be the focus of wine studies.

The last goal was to review the strategic plan.

“For many reasons, this is not the time to begin a new strategic plan or dramatically overturn what took us a very long time to create. We will not change course but it is valuable to hear from the community about what you think of our work so far.”

All the goals expressed in his address stemmed from the strategic plan and there will be a survey and a report surrounding the plan. This is planned for February 2016.

Hellie also outlined other goals for the year, largely involving securing donations and funding for things like improving buildings and encouraging faculty development.

“The power of the Linfield community remains the core of who we are. We may reshape or adjust the Linfield experience as times change but our sense of community is vital, even precious. I believed that to be true before Parker Moore died last November but I know it is true now. And it is our job to ensure that we will pass on this precious opportunity to students in the future.”