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Volume 98, Number 2

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A president with a mission (continued)

President Kim Phipps spends time with students, learning about their interests and their expectations for Messiah College.
President Kim Phipps spends time with students, learning about their interests and their expectations for Messiah College.

With the different hopes, expectations, and ideas people have for Messiah College, how do you address the diverse issues they care about while forming a cohesive vision for the College? 

To be cohesive, I believe our vision has to be rooted in the mission and identity of the College. As we move forward and focus on where we want Messiah to be in 10 or 20 years, we must always be mindful of the College’s core mission, which remains the same, even as we embrace change and adapt to it.

In order to effectively plan for the future, I think it is essential to listen carefully to people and to find ways to regularly invite their feedback and input. As we embark on a strategic planning process this year, we are intentionally thinking about how we can incorporate feedback into the process—feedback from alumni, students, employees, faculty, trustees, and the broader community.  

What do you see as Messiah’s greatest challenges at this point in its history?

At this point, Messiah College’s greatest challenge is responding to the increasing costs and enrollment pressures confronting private colleges in the 21st century. For example, the number of demographically traditional college-aged students in Pennsylvania and the Northeast is expected to decline steadily over the coming years, while at the same time the percentage of college students who need financial aid is steadily increasing. This year, through the diligent work of our enrollment management team, we did achieve an increase in the number of our first-year students. But we still need to meet our aggressive overall enrollment targets.

In response, we’re working on a comprehensive plan to ensure that Messiah is affordable and accessible to students and that the College is building a solid financial foundation for our future. We have already undertaken steps to reduce expenses and to enact new enrollment and annual giving initiatives, including a focused effort to generate increased scholarship aid for students. I’m committed to working with the College leadership team to achieve full enrollment, increase endowment returns, meet our annual-giving targets, and plan and complete our next capital campaign in order to secure our long-term financial health.

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