Outdoor Program outlines new five-year strategy

Tate Cadang, Sports Reporter

The Outdoor Program [OP] recently announced a new strategic plan that will help the department improve and change to better fit the students and the college.

The Director of Outdoor Programs, Brien Sheedy, elaborated on the plans.

“The OP conducts a strategic plan every 5 years as a way for the department to be thoughtful, intentional and strategic with how it focuses its efforts for change and improvement,” Sheedy said. “That way the OP is able to better serve students and the college while keeping the college’s strategic plan and current initiatives in mind.”

This year ends the previous five year plan the OP installed in 2015 with the new plan not being a response to the pandemic. This next plan is set to go into effect in 2021 and will expire in 2026. It will differ from the previous version, in that there is a larger focus on diversity, equity and inclusion goals, and ways to be more proactive in reaching out to potentially under-served portions of the student population.

Infographic showing the range of things on offer with the Outdoor Program. Infographic contributed by the Whitman Outdoor Program.

Assistant Director of the OP, Stuart Chapin, also provided more insight into the five-year plan.

“[The plan] allowed us to identify problems and articulate a number of goals that would take longer to achieve,” Chapin said. “It allowed us to strategically prioritize our resources and efforts over extended periods of time in order to actualize our goals.”

Lish Riley, Rental Shop Manager and Adjunct Professor, hopes that the new plan will provide a new sense of direction and deeper insight beyond the traditional scope of the OP.

“I really believe there is something that we offer that can have a really meaningful impact on every student here,” Riley said.

This new strategy hopes to target Whitman students and encourage them to not only participate in more outdoor experiences but to also connect with fellow students. The Outdoor Program helps with forming communities, building skill sets, learning how to have empathy for others in difficult situations and gaining a new and lasting appreciation for nature and wild places.

By setting up a plan spanning the length of five years, the staff of the OP is able to partner with student groups, other departments and the administration to help further their goal. The goal for this strategic plan has not yet been released as it is too early in the planning process to be determined.

“We are only part-way through with the process so I have limited insight into what path the plan will set us upon,” Chapin said. “That said, I hope that whatever we end up within actionable goals, we will have a process that sets us up well to hear from students and other stakeholders to incorporate those voices into the plan.”

The new OP plan will assess the department’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats [SWOT]. Throughout the past five years, OP department staff have analyzed the metrics from students involved in order to improve in certain areas. Students also have a voice in the department through a survey.

“We also use feedback gained directly from students,” Sheedy said. “The current OP Strategic plan student survey which is still open until Nov. 29th is a great way for students to share their feedback for the OP.”

Here is a link to the current survey for the 2021-2026 strategic plans. The OP staff highly encourage any and all students to take the survey and to join the Outdoor Program.