Strategic Plan

President James Donahue’s Charge to the Strategic Plan 2020-2025 Steering Committee

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the formation of the steering committee that will guide the creation of Saint Mary’s College Strategic Plan 2020-2025. The timing of the strategic plan is fortuitous as this year has been designated a Jubilee Year in celebration of the 300th year of the Lasallian mission and marks a critical juncture for Saint Mary’s College.

We find ourselves at a pivotal moment for higher education generally as well as for Saint Mary’s College in particular. Throughout its history, Saint Mary’s College has distinguished itself by its ability to anticipate opportunities and adapt accordingly. The College’s resilience and creativity is why it remains one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the western United States. Despite the myriad challenges facing colleges and universities nationally, we are well positioned to actualize our mission, expand our reach, and continue our trajectory toward becoming a nationally significant university. But our ability to do so depends upon our willingness to channel the spirit of our past to craft our promising future. Saint Mary’s is indeed, as Provost Kasimatis said this spring, a “College on the move that hasn’t forgotten where it came from.” Our mission, grounded in our Lasallian, Catholic, and liberal arts traditions, is as relevant and imperative as it has ever been. Education at Saint Mary’s is a vehicle for transformative leadership and social justice in a world that desperately needs it.

In commencing our strategic planning process this year, we are embarking on an opportunity to rediscover the essence of our community, focus on our shared values and aspirations, and build upon our considerable assets to boldly imagine the next chapter for Saint Mary’s College. We intend to institute an inclusive and participative process that will affirm our mission, reassert our core commitments, and clarify the University's long-term vision, priorities, and goals. It is important that our planning process is designed to enable us to make swift decisions and provide timely direction while simultaneously reflecting our commitment to inclusivity and ensuring that all members of our community have meaningful opportunities to participate in a fundamentally collaborative process. This moment calls for game-changing boldness, ambitious thinking, and a willingness to imagine a future Saint Mary’s in a way that anticipates, rather than merely responds to, the changing context of higher education while simultaneously demanding actionable strategies and realistic and measurable goals informed by data. Thoughtful planning and creative problem solving is underway in schools and divisions across campus already, and we will draw upon those efforts extensively to strike these important balances.

In particular, I am charging the strategic planning steering committee with engaging our campus community to ask and seek answers to challenging questions that will determine our future.

How will Saint Mary’s College continue to provide an exceptional, transformative, and deeply personalized educational experience that meets students where they are and empowers them to become their very best selves and how will we extend our impact in the future? At the heart of our Lasallian commitment to educational excellence is preparing students not only for their careers but for their lives beyond our campus. As student expectations of higher education change and as their paths to our campus become more varied, how can we find new and innovative ways to deepen and sustain our unwavering commitment to the success of each of our students?

How will Saint Mary’s College honor its commitment to constructing a supportive and inclusive campus climate that values curiosity, creativity, and a united community where diversity is respected, where no one is left out, and where everyone finds a place? How will we realize our ambition to envision a community that goes beyond mere tolerance of differences to one guided by social justice, cultural humility, and engaged citizenship? What spaces, programs, and partnerships will we embrace to fully realize the considerable opportunity before us?

And how will Saint Mary’s College grow our influence and expand the impact we have not only on our students or on our campus, but in the world. We challenge our students to enter to learn and leave to serve. What does it mean for us to be an institution committed to solidarity with the poor and social justice in a time of deep and growing inequality, divisiveness, and threats to our planet?

I encourage you to participate in this important initiative throughout the coming year and look forward to working with each of you, and our Strategic Plan Steering Committee, to craft a plan that will harness our collective and individual talents and energies in service of Saint Mary’s College and the students living and learning in our community.


James A. Donahue


Strategic Plan Steering Committee

  • Margaret Kasimatis, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (co-chair)
  • Dana Lawton, School of Liberal Arts (co-chair)
  • James Berleman, School of Science
  • Brother Chris Brady, Chaplain for Athletics, Mission and Ministry
  • Vidya Chandrasekaran, Associate Dean, School of Science
  • Tracy Pascua Dea, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success
  • Legacy Lee, Director, Intercultural Center
  • Kari Montero, Associate Athletic Director for Academic Support
  • Natasha Munshi, School of Economics and Business Administration
  • Laurie Panian, Associate Vice President / Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Jennifer Pigza, Director, Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action
  • Mary Raygosa, Kalmanovitz School of Education

Strategic Plan 2020-2025 Time Line

The plan will be crafted in four phases:

Phase One: “Planning to Plan” Phase  April – August 2019

  • Develop the approach for conducting the strategic plan
  • The Academic Senate and Board of Trustees discusses and endorses the planning process
  • Develop a strategic planning website where individuals can track the progress of the plan and submit their ideas and feedback

Phase Two: Sharing Phase – “Discover and Dream”  September– December 2019

  • President Donahue formally launches the Strategic Plan and appoints the Steering Committee
  • The Strategic Plan website goes live
  • Conduct visioning exercises with faculty, staff, students, alumni, Christian Brothers, and academic leadership
  • Implement survey of faculty, staff, and students
  • Create multiple opportunities for faculty, staff, students, alumni, Brothers, community members, and friends of the university to provide input through open forums, interviews, and focus group sessions

Phase Three: “Design” Phase  December 2019 – March 2020

  • Steering Committee identifies emerging themes and topics based on analysis of current assets and opportunities
  • Form working groups consisting of varied campus stakeholders to flesh out each of the themes and propose possible initiatives that would have an impact in each strategic area
  • The Steering Committee develops a draft of the strategic plan based upon the working group drafts

Phase Four: Feedback Phase “Destiny”  April 2020 – October 2020

  • Share the Steering Committee’s draft with the campus community in a variety of venues to solicit feedback from all constituencies
  • Refine the Strategic Plan and present the final draft to the Board of Trustees for their approval by October 2020