Letter from Board of Trustees Chair

Board of Trustees
Salem Academy and College
601 South Church Street
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27101


Dear Salem College Alumnae:

I hope that you and your loved ones are well and safe in this extraordinary time.  We are grateful for your support of Salem and for the many ways you are staying in touch with your alma mater.

Today I write to share good news with you about the future of Salem College.

Over the past two years, with input representing faculty, staff, and alumnae, we have moved through three distinct phases of an arduous strategic planning process with the goal of positioning Salem for a strong future.  The process began with a faculty-staff planning group and drew on input from more than 200 constituents, including alumnae.  In each phase we were guided by research, analysis, leading consultants, and strategic discussion. Now, we are about to embark on the fourth phase.

While our research was extensive, I want to share some of our key findings that helped to define the focus of this plan:

  • Student interests are changing. In recent years, Salem’s student body has continued to shift to STEM or health-related studies now representing 34% of our total. More broadly, the number of women seeking STEM degrees and health-related careers has substantially increased as well, with the National Society of High School Scholars reporting 43% of women expect to work in medicine or health.
  • Intense job growth is predicted within health-related fields, increasing opportunity for our graduates to align their skills and passions with well-paying careers and leadership positions. Of the 30 fastest growing occupations, more than 50% are health or health-related, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Women are still sorely underrepresented within the health industry globally while they represent the majority of healthcare decisions for their families. Achieving gender diversity in these fields can reshape the world of healthcare and ultimately the health of our world.

Based on these and many other compelling findings, the Trustees are pleased to share with you the core of a bold plan to create a new— still rigorous and still relevant—Salem College. We will focus on health leadership in all aspects of the Salem experience, developing women who will profoundly improve the health and wellness trajectory of our world.  Infusing our liberal arts curriculum with problem-solving pedagogy and leadership skills will prepare Salem graduates to lead national and international change in many fields and professions—health policy, health law, bioethics, health advocacy, pre-medicine, health administration, epidemiology, and many other health-related fields.

Women’s voices in health leadership have never been more needed in our society--a need greatly magnified by the COVID-19 crisis impacting our world.  Salem’s size means that teaching, learning, and leadership development can be individualized, innovative, and nimble in the rapidly changing arena of health.

With your support and the input of our excellent faculty and staff members, Salem College will move to a health leadership focus while ensuring that our graduates emerge with the competencies that are valued in a liberal arts education.  This distinctive focus will attract young women who want to lead in health-related professions, assuring Salem’s viability as a woman-focused institution in the competitive world of higher education. 

As alumnae, you will appreciate the need to offer our students career and leadership paths in burgeoning, vital fields; and you will understand, as well, the importance of establishing a robust new niche for Salem that will sustain our financial viability.

The next steps begin right away.

  • Building the academic framework for this focus will start immediately.   Early this summer, we will engage a respected curriculum design specialist to facilitate the process and support our excellent faculty and staff as they create the curricular and co-curricular framework.
  • We will recruit a president who is prepared by relevant experience and is passionate about leading this plan.
  • We will begin implementation with the class that first enters Salem in the academic year 2021-2022.

In the coming weeks and months, you will hear more about Salem’s future, what we call our third-century initiative.  And now, I want you to hear from three of our trustees—all alumnae—who have been deeply invested in our planning and are eager to share with you their enthusiasm about this distinctive focus on health leadership.

To watch an announcement about our health leadership initiative, please watch the announcement video.

For information and ongoing news about the new focus, please go to thirdcentury.salem.edu.


McDara P. Folan, III
Chair, Board of Trustees
Salem Academy and College