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Outgoing York College president saw strategy become reality 

Outgoing York College president saw strategy become reality 

  • Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith recently unveiled Strategic Plan 2.0 as she prepares to retire after the spring 2023 semester.

Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith kept getting asked the same question when she became York College of Pennsylvania’s president in 2013. 

“When are you going to present your strategic plan?”  

Her answer was always the same: “It’s not my strategic plan, it’s our strategic plan.”   

Great to greater 

Throughout the soon-to-be decade that she has been York College president, Dr. G-S has prided herself on bringing people together to accomplish a common goal. It was no different when it came to creating a strategic plan for the College.  

Early in her tenure, she gathered leaders from each department to create a document that embraced a united vision. The first campuswide strategic plan, titled “Great to Greater,” was focused on the years 2016 through 2021.  

“People need a vision,” says Dr. G-S. “They need to have a direction.” 

During that time, Dr. G-S oversaw, among other ventures, the creation and launch of the Center for Community Engagement and the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation, the first phase of Knowledge Park, the introduction of multiple majors, and the reorganization of the College’s 11 departments into five schools.  

Strategic Plan 2.0 

As she prepares to retire after the spring 2023 semester, Dr. G-S has been overseeing the completion of Strategic Plan 2.0, or SP2.0. The evergreen document is an extension of the original strategic plan and outlines a vision for York College with five main goals.  

The first goal is to develop the College’s reputation for innovation and experiential learning.  

Experiential learning is not a new goal for York College, which steadily has been expanding such learning opportunities for students across programs throughout Dr. G-S’ presidency.  

With the opening of the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation, along with Knowledge Park, which will bring together students, faculty, and the York community in new and creative ways, Dr. G-S looks forward to seeing experiential learning explode across disciplines.  

The second goal of SP2.0 is to attract, enroll, and retain a robust and diverse student body. While York College long has embraced diversity among traditional and nontraditional students, the COVID-19 pandemic was an eye-opener to the need for the College to address various student struggles, especially in the area of mental health.  

‘Here for our students’ 

SP2.0’s third and fourth goals, to empower students for personal and professional success and to create career-ready professionals before graduation, underscore Dr. G-S’ belief that every decision made at York College needs to put its students top of mind.  

“Ultimately,” she says, “we’re here for our students.”  

The final goal is to ensure organizational resiliency for the College. Over the last 10 years, Dr. G-S has seen a major shift in how students approach higher education. Traditional enrollment is down at most institutions, while others have seen an uptick in adult education and career-focused programs.  

Dr. G-S wants the College to be “future-focused always.” “Keep the vision moving,” she says.  

While Dr. G-S no longer will be president when many of the goals she helped to form take shape as projects and programs, she’s excited for what the future holds for York College with a new leader at the helm. 

“It has been a real privilege and opportunity to serve,” she says. “It’s been a great ride.”