Before the recession, planning offices were the workhorses supporting institutional growth strategies by translating the ambitions of senior administrators into action. However, the recession derailed many institutional ambitions; austerity suddenly supplanted growth. The future role of planners seems uncertain beyond operationalizing short-term damage control. Yet this article asserts that planners are uniquely positioned to assume an essential role in colleges and universities: sensemakers and sensegivers. Through sensemaking and sensegiving, planners can focus institutional dialogue on the meaning of austerity. Instead of accepting resource constraints as a ubiquitous rationale for retrenchment, planners can guide institutional dialogue toward acknowledging that new constraints merely discipline earlier ambitions within new parameters.
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