Collaborative Governance: Strategic Planning Process

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the College exploring collaborative governance as part of its strategic planning process? Why now?

After collecting feedback provided at faculty and board retreats, in faculty and staff surveys, and in small and large group discussions with faculty, staff, students, and alumnae, the Strategic Planning Committee identified four main areas of institutional priority—one of which was collaborative governance—and created working groups to develop recommendations for each area.

The collaborative governance working group expressly addressed why the time is right to look closely at how the Association and College are functioning together: The pressures in the current higher education landscape are formidable. All elite, private liberal arts colleges are competing to attract the best and brightest students while generating the revenue needed to offer a first-class education in an unstable economy. In this context it is absolutely critical for Mount Holyoke to articulate the compelling benefits of a Mount Holyoke liberal arts education.

Mount Holyoke alumnae deserve clarity around where and how they can add value to the College’s work as well as a deep commitment from the College and the Association regarding managing the information and channels necessary for alumnae to connect with College and with one another. Given the pressures on liberal arts colleges, mobilizing the alumnae network—and listening to their voices—is more important than ever.

Who was on the working group that focused on relationship between the Alumnae Association and the College?

  • Chau Ly ’97, Mount Holyoke College Trustee, MHC Strategic Planning Committee member, Working Group Chair
  • Carly Kite, Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, Mount Holyoke College
  • Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67, President, Alumnae Association, MHC Strategic Planning Committee member
  • Eva Paus, Professor of Economics, Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, Mount Holyoke College
  • Nancy Bellows Perez ‘76, Alumnae Association Board Member
  • Jill Stern ’84, Director of the Mount Holyoke Fund and Advancement Communications
  • Sally Sutherland, Senior Lecturer in English, Mount Holyoke College

How did the working group conduct their research?

The group met regularly by phone from the end of October 2015 through January 2016, including two in-person meetings and reviewed documents describing the current relationship between the College and the Alumnae Association, including the 2012 agreement, the Association’s Strategic Plan 2020, information about the Association’s current alumnae engagement tactics, and summaries of current work in Communications and Advancement. The group completed a benchmarking study by gathering publicly available information about the structures for alumnae engagement and relations at seven sibling colleges and conducting phone interviews with key people at five of them.

What institutions were included in the benchmarking study?

The working group analyzed public information about Amherst, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley and conducted telephone interviews with Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley. The group chose these colleges because they are similar in academic mission and student and alumnae populations. Mount Holyoke’s endowment is in the mid-range of the endowments of these sibling colleges.

What recommendations did the working group make?

The working group recommended a collaborative governance model that redefines how the work of alumnae relations is done on campus in order to have a more unified approach in engaging Mount Holyoke’s large and diverse alumnae constituency; a model that aims to advance the alumnae experience and bolster the Mount Holyoke brand for the benefit of all who affiliate with it. To assess what this model will look like, the working group recommended a commission be established to explore the feasibility of alternative structures for collaboration that fit the unique needs of Mount Holyoke.

Who is on the commission?

Lynn Pasquerella ’80, President of Mount Holyoke College, and Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67, President of the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, will co-chair the commission which will also include:

  • V. Radley Emes ’00 (Chair of the Association Nominating Committee, Alumnae Association Board of Directors)
  • Ashanta Evans-Blackwell ’95 (Clerk, Alumnae Association Board of Directors and former member of the Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees)
  • Shannon Gurek (Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer, Mount Holyoke College)
  • Nancy Bellows Perez ’76 (Interim Alumnae Association Executive Director and former Director at Large of Alumnae Association Board of Directors)
  • Sally Sutherland (Senior Lecturer in English and Former Senior Advisor to the President, Mount Holyoke College)
  • Marija Tesla ’11 (former President of the Mount Holyoke College Student Government Association and former member of the Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees)

When will the commission complete its work?

The commission is committed to working intensively and plans to complete its recommendations by the end of June.

What will happen with the executive director search?

We plan to put a search committee in place, following the commission’s work, so that we have clear understanding of the expectations for the position and the necessary skill sets and experience.

Will alumnae be able to provide input and feedback for the commission?

Yes, we welcome alumnae questions and feedback. Please email