JC Insider: O’Hara gives ‘State of School’ speech; Master plan to head to archdiocese; Strategic plan ready to implement

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O’Hara presents “State of School”

O’Hara made his annual “State of the School” address at the Board retreat on February 21, specifically focusing on value in light of the decreasing enrollment.

“The central theme is that we have to be very aware of how we create value for students,” said O’Hara. To accomplish this, he stressed the idea of value as the ratio of outcomes to price.

“With tuition going up, to keep value as the same ratio, we have to prove that we’re creating greater outcomes for the students,” said O’Hara. “We have to make sure outcomes are going to flourish or the perceived value is going to go down and we’re going to lose our enrollment.”

In addition, “One focus was on enrollment, on what challenges we face because of the ongoing recession and increasing competition, [as well as] how we should address those challenges,” said O’Hara.

The retreat itself, held at St. Margaret’s this year, allows the Board to “zero in on fewer topics, but in greater depth,” said O’Hara.

Additional dates set for capital campaign launch

The Board hopes to submit a request to begin the capital campaign to the archdiocese in early March, according to O’Hara.

“We’re hoping to submit a comprehensive letter with our requests in it to the Archbishop. It’s been thought through very thoroughly,” said O’Hara.

The campaign, which raises money for the master plan, “stands to take an already very fine school and help it get to the next level, which I hope the archdiocese would look very favorably on,” said O’Hara.

In addition, “We’re still continuing to reach out to a lot of people so we can have a pretty good idea come September 1 of what we can do. We’re also continuing to explore financing options, [specifically] borrowing options,” O’Hara said.

Strategic plan moves towards implementation

With the strategic plan scheduled to be released March 5, the Board of Trustees is continuing preparation for implementing the plan, with a specific focus on how to translate the plan into reality.

“[Principal Paul] Barker and I will take these goals, put them on a spreadsheet, and say ‘Here’s the objective, who’s in charge of getting it done, what are the action steps, by when, and how will we be able to tell if it’s progressing,” said President Richard O’Hara.

They will then work with the Board Strategic Planning Committee and faculty and staff to implement the plan.

There is one goal for each of the seven committees (Catholic mission, institutional advancement, finance, facilities, marketing and communication, student learning, faculty, staff and administrators), with three to five recommendations for each area.

O’Hara said, “We won’t publish this part, but there are some specific action steps [for each focus area].”

Kate Froehlich can be reached for comment at [email protected].