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Resilience in Practice Series Volume 1: Resilient Campus Planning

The first roundtable of Hanbury’s three-part series Resilience in Practice | resilient campus planning focused on the unique issues and opportunities faced by small, private, liberal arts colleges. 

Our thought-provoking moderators and panelists included:

Session Moderators

Dr. Janice Barnes, AIA | Founder of Climate Adaptation Partners
Keith Storms, AIA, LEED AP | President of Hanbury, Principal, Campus Planning Team Leader

Session Panelists
Jack Byrne | Dean of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs at Middlebury College
Dr. John Swallow | President of Carthage College
Dr. John McCardell, Jr. | Vice-Chancellor Emeritus of Sewanee: The University of the South

Session panelists shared their own experiences with resiliency, answering specific questions submitted by session attendees and responding to broader questions about issues and partnership opportunities on the horizon for higher education institutions. Panelists spoke to a variety of resilience stressors experienced by campus leadership and their campus communities:

Demographic cliff and enrollment fluctuations                                                                                                                                    Tuition costs and the value proposition of a post-secondary degree
Deferred maintenance and maintaining competitive quality
Social justice and racial equity within campus and between campus and surrounding community
Town/gown relationships
Faculty and staff reductions
Complexity of achieving bold goals in short time frames
Changing demands on how people do their jobs

In our previous article we introduced our holistic framework model, developed to aid campus leadership and stakeholders in understanding the complex components of resilience, how they are related, and what metrics are important. Hanbury’s Campus Resilience Framework groups systems, metrics, and operations into three interrelated themes. We have highlighted some of the strategies shared by panelists during the roundtable discussion within this framework, acknowledging that these issues impact multiple themes and scales


Carthage College

GOAL: Check assumptions of prospective students and their families about attendance costs by providing better communication about tuition offsets and scholarship opportunities.

ACTION: Enact and publicize a 30 percent tuition reset; engage prospective students early and in multiple ways through outreach.

OUTCOME: Applications have increased by 20 percent in the past two years.

Middlebury College

GOAL: Build on the culture of sustainability at Middlebury by adopting practices that place value on local investment and engagement.

ACTION: Switch energy source to biomass. Two thirds of campus are now partially heated with wood pellets.

OUTCOME: Dollars are diverted out of the global fossil fuel supply chain and put into the pockets of local and regional loggers and millers.


Carthage College

GOAL: Help students define a sense of self; identify opportunities to use their skills in the world; take initiative and demonstrate creativity, entrepreneurial skills, leadership; and resilience; learn professional norms for desired industries.

ACTION: Development of The ASPIRE Program: “All first-year students begin career development planning from their first days on campus. Enrollment in the program is automatic. There is no extra cost, and because program elements are built into the Carthage experience, there’s no extra stress.”

OUTCOME: Through a $15M grant for career development programs, Carthage has instituted a comprehensive four-year career preparation program that gives students early access to career advisors and mentors, access to a wide range of experiential learning opportunities, and opportunities for students to build leadership skills.

Sewanee: The University of the South

GOAL: Foster individual resilience, leadership, and civic engagement among students by making honor central to life on campus and in the world.

ACTION: The Sewanee Pledge provides funding for a summer internship or research fellowship, a semester-long study-abroad opportunity at no additional tuition cost.

OUTCOME: Sewanee students are prepared to enter their personal and professional lives as engaged global citizens.


Sewanee: The University of the South

GOAL: Assess risks and develop proactive solutions that anticipate points of failure and vulnerabilities before they happen within organizational structure, succession planning, endowment growth, infrastructure, facility conditions, land and space needs, etc.

ACTION: Create a new position for a current staff member who is willing to champion the effort: VP for Risk Management and Institutional Effectiveness.

OUTCOME: Development of a “risk register” that prioritizes risks, identifies solutions and actions, and establishes a framework for regular review.

Middlebury College

GOAL: “The Middlebury College Knoll (part of the Global Food and Food + Farm Program) explores food as a medium to cultivate wellbeing in people, place, and the planet. Our goal is to have people interact in different ways at the Knoll.”

ACTION: Through community and academic partnerships, the College has expanded the Organic Garden to include three main program areas: The Educational Garden, the Outdoor Kitchen, and the Serenity Garden.

OUTCOME: During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Knoll was in extremely high demand for use and offered a refuge where students could both passively and actively engage. Due to its popularity, the College is exploring options to expand the site and amenities.

The focused goals, actions, and outcomes outlined above reach beyond the borders of any one framework theme. It is important to understand that campuses are an interrelated system of systems. The aspirations and strategic actions taken by campus leadership often yield positive outcomes in other program areas beyond what was anticipated. The nimbleness and adaptability of decision makers to seize these unforeseen opportunities for collaboration and change in the short-term seems crucial to creating campus resilience in the long-term.

For additional information on how our panelists have embraced resilience across multiple framework themes, listen to a recording of our roundtable.

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