Connecting Goals to Resources
Alexander Jesudasan had been principal and secretary of Madras Christian College (MCC) for only a few months when he outlined his immediate goals at the United Board’s 2010 Asian University Leaders Program. “Most of those aspirations have been accomplished,” he now finds, seven years into his presidency. At present, he and his colleagues are embracing a bigger challenge: implementing the strategic plan to guide MCC to its 200th anniversary in 2037.
MCC is already among the top ten liberal arts and science colleges in India, and recently the University Grants Commission awarded it the status of College with Potential for Excellence. Now Dr. Jesudasan is working in concert with his faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and donors to achieve a more ambitious goal. “We would like all of our departments to be number one in the country,” he said.
Early in its planning process, MCC convened a Planning and Development Council meeting so that nearly 200 representatives from the college’s academic and administrative departments, extension programs, alumni groups, and other interest groups could present their views. It established a smaller Central Committee to formulate a strategy. Working with these stakeholders has created a unity of purpose. “Their goals are my goals and my goals are their goals,” Dr. Jesudasan explains.
Making those goals a reality requires resources, and that need brought Dr. Jesudasan to the United Board’s Strategic Planning and Resource Development (SPRD) workshop in February 2014 and brought him back again in February 2016. “Fundraising is core to development,” he said. “Once you are able to raise sufficient funds, you have the comfort level to begin to work seriously.”
At the 2014 SPRD, Dr. Jesudasan was intrigued by the presentation about the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program, a grant-making program of USAID. Under the auspices of the United Board, MCC submitted a proposal to ASHA for a renewable energy project. The proposal envisaged a solar power facility on campus that would meet nearly 40 percent of the college’s energy needs. Earlier this year, ASHA awarded a $524,000 grant for the project.
Laying the groundwork for a successful strategic plan takes time, patience, and clarity, but those investments pay rewards along the way. Expressing his gratitude to the United Board, Dr. Jesudasan opines, “By supporting networks, the United Board nurses phenomenal changes in higher education.”
This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Horizons.