January 26, 2021 | By Chuck Carlson
A long and diverse career that has included involvement in everything from fundraising to community engagement to enrollment management to sustainability has led Dr. Raymond Barclay to Albion College, where he will serve as its new, and first, chief planning officer.
“Ray brings a wealth of experience and will be an enormous asset as we move forward with our comprehensive plan for campus,” said Dr. Mathew Johnson, president of Albion College, who had brought in Barclay as a consultant in recent months after crossing paths with him over the years. “I am delighted he has chosen to solidify this relationship with a permanent role.”
Barclay, a native of Beaver County, Pa., will be a member of the President’s Cabinet and will oversee an array of projects as well as the College’s Information Technology and Facilities offices. He will lead and oversee campus planning, data and physical infrastructure, capital projects and strategic space management, sustainability partnerships and administrative systems re-engineering.
“Dr. Johnson’s vision is very compelling,” said Barclay, who will officially begin his duties in February and move to Albion in March with his wife, Judith, and son, Jon-Patrick. “It encapsulates what almost my entire career has been about but never quite encapsulated in any one job. The burgeoning vision the campus is developing—through conversations, leadership and the strategic planning process that brings together the interests of the campus and community toward a more unified vision for Albion—is powerful and will be critical for thriving in the current and future higher education landscape.
“The thinking that has been communicated to me about the role of a liberal arts college in issues related to community development, justice and innovation is powerful and can be a national model,” Barclay continued. “I just want to come and help leverage my background and skills to support moving this vision forward."
Most recently, Barclay has served as president of Enrollment x Design LLC, an enrollment and academic planning consulting firm in Princeton, N.J., which he founded. But his background and experiences stretch far back.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then obtained a master’s in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also holds a master’s in sustainable design from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. in educational psychology at Temple University.
He has more than 25 years of experience leading and providing support to academic, enrollment, budget, curriculum, space, and capital and resource planning, as well as to decision support and analytics.
Prior to becoming a consultant, he served as associate provost for academic budgets and planning/assistant vice president for strategic enrollment management planning and analytics at the New School, a private university with campuses in New York City, China and Paris.
Barclay’s higher education career also includes leadership roles as associate vice president for analytics and decision support at Stetson University; associate vice president at the College of Charleston; vice chancellor for institutional planning in the University of North Carolina system; director of institutional research and assessment at the College of New Jersey; and policy and planning analyst at Burlington County (N.J.) Community College.
He has also worked in the field of grant writing and served as director of research and planning at The Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, a national leader in civic engagement, student development and community-based research.
“Almost every position I’ve had has had planning in the title,” Barclay said. “What’s similar is those positions require you to think horizontally and vertically. You have to dig in and go deep on projects using an array of technical proficiencies, but you also have to be able to lift out of the work to communicate, leverage and build bridges—systems, processes, strategies—across the college. The problems are always interesting to try and help the institution solve and affords one the opportunity to collect and grow different portfolios of responsibility. Not to mention, solving problems is one of my favorite things about this type of role.”
Then he added with a laugh: “I’ve always been a planner. Otherwise I’d get bored.”
Barclay said he is especially interested in working with the campus and the City of Albion on community engagement initiatives, and he is already engaging with City and College officials on economic development and engagement topics.
“It’s the opportunity to pursue community and civic engagement work that was one of the primary attractions for me, and is where the president and I have most often crossed paths across our careers,” he said. “A partnership with downtown, that’s really exciting.”
Barclay, a first-generation college student, said he understands both the College’s goal and the need for the College and the City to work and thrive together.
“I live in a community just like Albion,” he said of Burlington, N.J., just north of Philadelphia. “It’s very diverse and integrated, not a gentrified community. And I get a sense that people are excited about the future at Albion and value this about their own community and see it as a significant benefit for moving the community forward. I want to support the people involved in that innovation and community work.”