Erskine President Dr. Steve Adamson addressed business and civic leaders as well as other interested community members Sept. 20 at the Strategic Initiative Announcement, one of the special events preceding his installation Sept. 23. The new president, who has been on the job since January 2022, spoke in Erskine’s Bowie Chapel.
The Strategic Initiative, Adamson said, is made up of Erskine’s Vision, Mission, Strategic Plan, and Campus Master Plan. Work on the initiative has been going on since February, and the president noted that trustees, alumni, administration, faculty, and staff have been involved. During the summer, when focus turned to the Campus Master Plan, local community members, including the Hon. Jeannie Knight, mayor of Due West, were brought into the discussions.
“One of the greatest assets Erskine has is this town,” Adamson said of Due West, the home of Erskine College. Knight, an Erskine graduate, listened from a pew near the front of the chapel.
The new president gave his audience a look at a work in progress. Introducing a modified mission statement and a new vision statement, both “in the final stages of being approved by the Board of Trustees,” he outlined the four “pillars” of Erskine’s Strategic Plan, stressing the importance of the community in Erskine’s efforts.
The proposed new vision statement calls for Erskine “to equip students for lives of service and leadership, building Christ’s Church and influencing society for God’s glory,” while the modified mission statement calls for Erskine to “glorify God as a Christian academic community where students integrate knowledge and faith, equipped to flourish as whole persons prepared for lives of service, leadership, and influence.”
Adamson clarified the difference between mission and vision. “A vision is something that is always out there, that you’re always aspiring to—it’s always forward—and the mission anchors you in what you are doing day-to-day,” he said.
The connection between the mission and the vision is made by the strategic plan, which bridges the gap “between what you do and where you’re going,” the president said.
The four “pillars” of Erskine’s strategic plan are Missional Fidelity, Financial Stewardship, Educational Excellence, and Expanding Reach. The four pillars remain in place, while goals pertaining to each pillar and projects and tasks required to reach goals will be assessed each year.
Describing Missional Fidelity as “keeping Erskine true to its calling to serve God for God’s glory,” Adamson said this entails faithfulness “not just to the mission of the school, but to the community and the region in which God has placed this institution.”
Adamson said Financial Stewardship “goes beyond finances” and encompasses stewardship of human resources—treating faculty, staff, vendors, and contractors with respect—as well as careful management of Erskine’s physical assets, which include 95 acres with “a half million square feet under roof.”
In connection with stewardship, the president spoke about the Campus Master Plan, with its designated themes of Safety and Security, Preservation and Beautification, Usability and Optimization, and Efficiency and Sustainability. Listed last was the description “Visionary and Enterprising.” By optimizing Erskine’s assets, “we can be more visionary and enterprising with what we have,” he said.
Educational Excellence, the plan’s third pillar, includes academic excellence, which develops the critical thinking skills, communication skills, interpersonal relational skills, ethics, and global awareness valued by many employers. It must also include extra-curricular and co-curricular activities promoting maturity, which are considered by accreditors “as of the same value as what happens in the classroom,” Adamson said. Also important is excellence in external-facing education. Erskine seeks to address “the educational needs of the broader community, of the church, of the global church,” he said, through conferences, seminars, and camps.
Expanding Erskine’s degree programs, enrollment, service, leadership, and influence are all connected under the fourth pillar, Expanding Reach. “There are opportunities for us to offer new degree programs moving forward,” the president said, listing such possibilities as international studies, interdisciplinary studies, computer science, and public administration, as well as a possible master’s program in education. As Erskine sends out graduates “who have skills important for leading institutions and businesses, helping towns, communities, counties, and state governments,” the school’s influence will grow.
“Yes, it’s a small college and a small town,” Adamson said. “But that need not stop us, for God can do so much with those who are obedient to Him.”