The vision of Hendrix College has been the same since 1997, but Dr. William Tsutsui has decided it is time to reassess and rework the mission of the college as well as support tradition while bringing innovation to the campus.
"Hendrix is a close community, but it is hidden to many," said Tsutsui. He explained that many at the university don’t venture out into the community of Conway and "that’s a shame."
He continued that it is important for universities to be involved in their local communities — not only to get the college’s name out there, but also to offer relief and outreach to those in need.
"Hendrix can engage in the community in many ways," said Tsutsui. "It is a productive partnership and builds important relationships with community members. Conway is young and creative which will lead to businesses moving here due to the activity of the community. It’s about engagement."
Tsutsui described himself as "not the typical college administrator." He views a healthy college as one that functions through coordination of efforts.
"Projects should be supported and coordinated together. Don’t duplicate efforts," said Tsutsui. He explained further that as a small liberal arts college, duplicating efforts on hurts the community. It is important to see which resources that are available and work to support new programs, which bring in new resources.
As an innovative leader, Tsutsui looks at development in three stages.
The first stage is "knowing who we are." Tsutsui said that the university has employed a company to do a branding study, which looks at the community in broad terms.
"I look at this as an opportunity to see how we pitch ourselves to those not on the campus of Hendrix," said Tsutsui.
The second stage in this development plan is to develop a strategic plan 10 years into the future.
"We plan to look at our mission statement first. It hasn’t been revised for many years. We also want to look at improving the Village since it is such a vital part of our community," said Tsutsui.
The final stage is looking forward to another campaign. Tsutsui wishes to focus on tradition, the academics of the college, and to innovate.
Tsutsui believes that Hendrix has a tradition of supporting liberal arts and knowing exactly who they are as a college.
"Over the past 15 years, Hendrix could have gone the way of many small liberal arts colleges that, faced with financial challenges, have opted for expedient solutions and made bad, short-sighted decisions," said Tsutsui. "Hendrix double-downed on liberal arts education, and that was exactly the right decision. Be good at what you’re good at and stay close to your mission."
Tsutsui said that Hendrix is "profoundly accepting and has very divergent political and religious views," despite the status of being a private Methodist college.
Although Hendrix is known throughout the United States for having high-caliber academics, Tsutsui discussed that enrollment is "a challenge for liberal arts colleges."
Tsutsui said that the colleges public space is dictated by others and thus it remains low key and modest, but it is time for the university to open its doors a little wider for people to see them for the gem they are.
"We prepare (students) for an unpredictable world, that’s why we need liberal arts," said Tsutsui.
Although enrollment is always a task to take on by liberal arts colleges, Tsutsui is optimistic to play to the strengths and traditions of the university while bringing innovative communication practices to both the internal and external Hendrix community.