Unexpectedly Large Participation in Revolutionary Challenge

Lianna Brown ’22, News Editor

A forum to propose new ideas for college innovations drew in 49 proposals and over 3000 total responses that surpassed the President’s Panel on Innovation’s (PPI) expectations of total participation. According to Dickinson College President Margee Ensign, this high participation is a “great indicator of people being excited for the future” and represents a “very engaged set of alumni, parents and student,” she said. 

An email sent to the Dickinson College community on Oct. 7 asked for feedback from students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff to proposed Revolutionary Challenge ideas with a survey that included a brief summary of each idea that was submitted. The email explained that the results of the survey will be used by the PPI and the Board of Trustees to select the Revolutionary Challenge finalists later this month.

The Revolutionary Challenge began in April and “invite[d] alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students to offer their revolutionary ideas for the future of Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education and for the betterment of the world,” according to the Dickinson College website.

The PPI includes fourteen “innovate entrepreneurs, business leaders and educators” and is made up of current Dickinson staff and Dickinson alumni, according to the Dickinson College website. The PPI will use feedback from the Dickinson community to help with identifying semifinalists who will then present their ideas to the PPI in October. The PPI will then select finalists who will present their ideas to the PPI and the Board of Trustees in May 2020, and they will then choose the winning idea or ideas, according to the Dickinson College website. 

Associate Professor of International Studies, Business and Management and member of the PPI Michael Fratantuono explained that “as judges, [we] have until Oct. 20 to read each proposal and then grade it according to a rubric, and as well as to offer some commentary on each of the proposals and then when the board of trustees arrives on Oct. 24, that will be the next meeting, and we’ll talk about the way that grades unfolded for each of the proposals.”

In an email received on Oct. 10, Dickinson College President Margee Ensign said “the Revolutionary Challenge is going extremely well. We had 49 submissions from alumni, parents, students, staff and faculty, and 800 responses to our survey in the first 48 hours. Dickinsonians have really risen to the challenge and we look forward to reviewing all of the proposals in the next few months.” Ensign later explained that the PPI originally expected around 20 proposals.

Associate Professor of Mathematics and member of the PPI, Jennifer Schaefer said that now it is time for the campus community and the PPI to begin reviewing the proposals. Schaefer explained that it is important that students respond to the survey because, “if there is a proposal that focuses on the student life experience, for example, it will be important to the PPI to know what students think of that proposal.”

Fratantuono explained that some proposals may be directed at a particular department or activity, while others will be “quite broad in scope and will trigger imagination,” he continued, “I think some of the proposals will be challenging to implement, which is not a negative thing, it’s just a reality because some of them are going to seek collaboration across departments, across subcommunities within the entire community.” Fratantuono also expressed his excitement to be chosen as a judge, and “look[s] forward to the exchange ideas with other judges when the time comes.”

The ultimate goal of the challenge is for Dickinsonians to come together and create ideas to address some of the college’s challenges with big and bold ideas. Schaefer said “our hope is that impactful, forward-thinking initiatives rise to the top that will advance the College and its mission for the next generation of Dickinsonians.” Fratantuono emphasized this idea, “I think that there is going to be several ideas submitted that will stimulate thinking about […] ways that we as a community can collaborate to develop a better educational experience for the students and as well to make the case that what we do at Dickinson is unique and valuable.”