Pursuing Our Passions
Letter from the President
Columbia College Chicago is a remarkable place. It is unconventional and iconoclastic, purposeful and inspired. It is an incubator for innovative ideas, and a playground for creative minds. The people who make up our campus community are artists and communicators who are relentlessly pursuing their passions. They are compelled to make their mark on the world. This is the culture of creativity that each of us who enters the life of this institution treasures, whether we contribute to that culture as a student, a parent, a member of the faculty and staff, an administrator, a supporter … or the college’s president.
The past several years have been a time of remarkable growth at Columbia. We have experienced unprecedented increases in enrollment—up 27 percent since 2000. We are quickly becoming a residential campus. In 2000, we had fewer than 500 residential students; we now have over 2400—a more-than-400-percent increase—with additional accommodations under construction.
Along with this growth in enrollment, we have seen expansion in the academic and extracurricular programs that serve our students, in the faculty and staff who teach and challenge them, and in the campus infrastructure that supports them. This is all indicative of our status as a “hot” college. But the thoughtfulness and determination with which Columbia College has navigated this growth is testament to its standing as a mature institution, one that is stepping into its power with a well-defined sense of purpose.
In the seven years since I joined Columbia College Chicago, I have witnessed an incredible transformation. I’ve watched this college make the transition from a scrappy, determined commuter school to a self-possessed, mature institution of higher education. And we’ve done it without compromising the unique, exuberant spirit that makes this college such an exciting place to live, learn, and work.
We are guided in this growth by our institutional strategic plan, Columbia 2010. This plan, created through the efforts of a broad representation of the college community, provides a strategic framework to guide us as we pursue our institutional goals. The plan outlines objectives, strategies, and indicators of success in five categories—learning, enrollment, affordability, campus, and marketing—all pointing to the overarching goal of making Columbia College Chicago the best student-centered arts and media college in the world. Yes, the world. We are making no little plans.
We are on track to accomplish these goals, yet we are continually re-examining and reassessing them in the context of our rapidly changing world. We have added a new focus on technology, and will conduct a thorough technology audit this year to provide benchmarking and position the institution appropriately for future technology trends and innovations. We will continue our focus on student life, providing a secure, engaging experience for our growing number of campus residents and commuter students alike. And shortly, we will launch Columbia’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign to support new campus construction, expanded scholarship opportunities, and enhanced faculty resources.
Our campus community comprises people who represent the economic, racial, cultural, and educational diversity of contemporary America. Bringing together these people of different backgrounds, different perspectives, and different values encourages a dynamic tension in which intellectual growth and creativity thrive. We challenge our students to think independently and to create change. After all, new ideas seldom spring from complacency. Innovation flourishes when we, as individuals and as a community, confront the unexpected and the unknown.
Warrick L. Carter, Ph.D.