President John Comerford released a long-term strategic plan to make Otterbein more relevant, inclusive and affordable to fight against obstacles created by the coronavirus.  

Comerford intentionally left the plan a little rough. During a recent town hall meeting, he described it as a place to start a discussion, with feedback being encouraged. The timeline for some parts of the plan range from immediately to five years.  

The plan’s goal is to make the university more relevant to students. It does this by boosting growth, equity and retention in enrollment. It also includes increasing diversity in students, faculty and staff. Comerford even spoke about hiring a chief diversity officer after Otterbein conducts a diversity assessment.   

On top of that, it asks for the development of campus. This includes 58 acres of Braun Farm, a plot of land Otterbein purchased last year, as well as expanding The Point into a new facility.  

          

Part of the plan was program review and development. That may mean discontinuance, something Otterbein has done recently

During the meeting, Comerford spoke about how tenured faculty can lose their job if they cut their program. He said they were looking into just a few positions connected to program discountenance and said, “I’ve asked all the cabinet areas to build scenarios of what 10% cuts could look like.”  

Additionally, the plan started For the Love of Otterbein. Comerford described that initiative as asking everyone in their database to donate if they can. He explained that this fundraising was necessary because Otterbein has many students and programs in need without many resources.  

          

This is because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a drop in enrollment that hit Otterbein and many similar colleges last March. Comerford said that it is “maybe the biggest crisis Otterbein has faced since World War II.” 

About a year ago, before the coronavirus, the Board of Trustees approved a similar strategic plan. Unfortunately, they could not carry it out because they had to focus on the problems that they immediately faced. 

A year later, Comerford proposed an abbreviated version of that plan because of limited resources and time.