The Chronicle of Higher Education
March 28th, 2015
Hilary Bowie remembers when she made the
mental jump from being a college student to being a member of her
college’s Board of Directors. It was at her first board meeting, in
November 2012, six months after she had graduated from Sweet Briar
The college had announced a new strategic plan
a year and a half earlier. Ms. Bowie, then a junior, had been taken in
by the upbeat language in the title: "A Plan for Sustainable
Excellence." Her college, already excellent, was going to get even more
excellent. There was a plan — a beautifully worded one, at that.
Sitting in her first board meeting, Ms. Bowie realized that the words
in the plan didn’t really mean much. It was the numbers that counted.
Sweet Briar had missed its target numbers for enrollment and per-student
revenue, explained Jo Ellen Parker, then the president. The college
really needed to start hitting those numbers, the president told the