The New College Board of Trustees gave its approval Oct. 20 to a strategic plan to increase the College’s size, and improve retention and graduation rates.
The plan, titled “Cultivating Curiosity, Unleashing Potential,” outlines tactics and measures for the College to grow to 1,200 students by 2024. The plan also calls for the College to achieve an 80 percent four-year graduation rate by the year 2028, “and, really, we want to be over 90 percent,” President O’Shea told the trustees.
“It’s a really strong piece of work and we should all be proud of it,” trustee Mark Aesch said.
New College President Don O’Shea presented the outline of the plan to the trustees, something he’ll do again next month for the Florida State University System’s Board of Governors.
Although the plan includes a broad overview of New College’s past accomplishments, its main focus is on where the College is headed. The plan’s stated goal is that “New College will be recognized among the top 20 liberal arts colleges in the nation, public or private.”
The document begins with answering some basic questions:
Why does New College exist? “New College of Florida prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement.” Where are we headed? “New College will be recognized among the top 20 liberal arts colleges in the nation, public or private.”
To accomplish that, the plan outlineshas three basic tactics:

  • Recruit more high-ability students who also reflect Florida’s racial and economic diversity;
  • Keep them enrolled for four years by making the campus a place they want to be, immersing them in an inspiring curriculum; and
  • Making a New College degree more valuable by building paths for academic and career success, making Sarasota an educational destination, and strengthening links with alumni and the community.

“If we can accomplish those goals, we will be in the top 20 liberal arts schools,” O’Shea observed.
Four-year graduation rates are of particular interest to the state Board of Governors. New College’s four-year rate is 54 percent, above the statewide goal for 2025, but lower than public institutions ranked ahead of New College in the influential U.S. News & World Report list. Those schools include West Point (at 78 percent) and the U.S Naval Academy (89 percent).
The strategic plan goes into detail about each goal and how progress will be measured. It can be viewed here.
Board Chair Felice Schulaner lauded the plan after the trustees voted unanimously to approve it. “I’m very excited about the strategic plan. It’s a spectacular document. What will come out of it will be even more spectacular.”
In other business, the Board of Trustees:

  • Confirmed board member appointments to the College’s direct support organizations.
  • Approved proposed amendments to the New College Regulations Manual, in the areas of powers and duties of the Board of Trustees, committees and Procurement Services, to bring them in line with recent changes to state Board of Governors’ regulations.
  • Approved the FY 2018-19 Annual Operating and Capital Budgets and Projected Use of E&G Fund Balance.
  • Honored the actions of trustee George Skestos, who offered a 5-to-1 matching grant challenge to other board members to fund scholarships. Board members responded by donating a total of $195,900. Skestos honored his commitment with a 5-to-1 match, bringing to total to $479,500.

Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is a top-ranked public liberal arts college and the state's Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in arts, humanities and sciences, a master’s degree program in data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

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