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With an expanded fundraising office and a clear sense of purpose, Radcliffe officials say they are preparing to tackle a new era in the school's history.
After nearly two years of examination, Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson in April announced the results of the Strategic Planning Initiative--a comprehensive review of the college which sets the school's priorities for the next decade.
"Now we are at an interesting point because the very success at opening the doors of Harvard opens up a new set of challenges to Radcliffe," Wilson says.
The three-pronged initiative will focus on increasing the amount of scholarship done at Radcliffe, building closer ties between undergraduates and researchers, and expanding the institution's influence in public policy debates.
To carry out the plan, Radcliffe administrators say they will soon lauch a capital campaign that they hope will double he size of the college's $100 million endowment.
Although the 12-page report has drawn some criticism for being more show than substance, the new proposal has generated a positive response from trustees and alumni.
"I can say that the trustees are very excited, very enthusiastic and extremely supportive," says Nancy-Beth Gordon Sheerr '71, chair of the Radcliffe Board of Trustees.
'It's like asking Radcliffe to do in the next seven years what it's taken the past 100 years to do so far.'
To augment research activity at the college, officials plan to increase the number of grants available for visiting scholars at the Bunting Institute, the Murray Research Center and the Schlesinger Library.
In addition, administrators and scholars are talking with faculty from area universities about establishing a graduate-level women's studies consortium. Officials say the program, which would offer the first women's studies graduate classes in the country, will attract more scholars to Radcliffe.
Wilson also says she hopes to lure more students into academic professions by funding more research assistant positions and by improving relations between undergraduates and faculty.
"Part of my goal is to make sure the pipeline is filled with women looking for academic careers," Wilson says, adding that the college would also like to increase the grants available for graduate study.
Ultimately, Radcliffe officials say the new research will be used to influence public policy debates, by focusing on traditionally female issues, such as child care, as well as encouraging women to play an active role in other policy areas.
"Harvard is a very major contributor to public policy in the
United States, but very few women are engaged in these activities here," Wilson says.
Finding the Money
To facilitate the upcoming campaign, Radcliffe has hired six new development officers with substantial experience in attracting major contributions. Still, officials acknowledge that finding the money will not be easy, especially since many of the people they will target--those who have graduated since 1976--will also be solicited by Harvard.
"We have the strategic plan, we have the enthusiasm, we have the staff," says Director of Development Deborah B. Abrams. "Still, it's like asking Radcliffe to do in the next seven years what it's taken the past 100 years to do so far.
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