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Advancing the Future Success of the University

Given our institutional strengths, the development of strategies to enable us to adjust to, and even benefit from, changing economic realities can move the university toward the achievement of our vision, mission, core strategies and guiding values (Appendix A). The areas of focus in this section of the strategic plan include sustainability, the effective communication of outcomes and the engagement of an active alumni community.

 

5. Integrate sustainability into the curriculum, physical plant and daily practices.

Consideration of resources and environmental impacts must become an integral part of Susquehanna’s operations. The responsible stewardship of the planet is an ethical issue (as outlined in our University Learning Goals) and one that is of great interest to our students, faculty and staff. While there are day-to-day modifications that can be made, the development of the cross-cultural requirement in the Central Curriculum raises the matter of the environmental impact of extensive global travel. Programs will be required to develop these initiatives in environmentally and fiscally responsible ways.

The Campus Sustainability Committee will be closely involved in the implementation of new policies and practices that address the imperative to “green” our day-to-day operations. While all have a role in the “greening” of our work, we will look to the chief information officer, the director of facilities management, the vice president for finance and the Campus Sustainability Committee for the identification of strategies. Importantly, though we will be mindful of the limits of our human resources and will strive to minimize rather than redistribute the burdens of administration within the university

Outcomes

  • Our students will have appropriate curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities to explore the theoretical, ethical and practical dimensions of sustainability and sustainable living both for individuals and for local, national and global communities.
  • Our day-to-day operations and practices reflect our commitment to sustainability.
  • The Center for Environmental Education and Research (CEER) at Yoder Farm enhances and integrates curricular, co-curricular, service, community and research activities to promote sustainability in an outdoor laboratory and classroom environment.

Actions

  • The Campus Sustainability Committee will engage the campus community in transforming Susquehanna into a more sustainable endeavor.
  • The director of facilities management will lead an investigation of alternative fuels to power the steam plant or technologies to harvest carbon and other pollutants from the stack gases, which should significantly reduce carbon emissions.
  • The director of facilities management will lead an exploration of cogeneration of electricity, which should also significantly reduce our carbon emissions if we generate power on campus and harness the waste heat.
  • The Facilities Management Department and the vice president for finance will continue to develop and maintain capital projects that conform to LEED certification and will continue to commit to utilizing existing and new technologies to maximize energy efficiency (for example, the upgraded heat plant, geothermal, wind and solar power).
  • Our faculty and staff, supported by the provost, deans and the CEER, will integrate the study of sustainability into existing curricular and co-curricular programs and create new curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities that promote sustainability and environmental education, research, service learning and co-curricular activities.
  • The vice president for finance and the chief information officer will collaborate to develop and implement more efficient working practices that minimize paper and other supply usage.
  • The faculty in the sciences will collaborate with local farmers to promote sustainable agriculture practices.
  • The faculty and the staff of the Division of Student Life will increase the number and scope of service learning experiences, community gardening, research and formal class and laboratory activities that promote and emphasize sustainability.
  • The faculty will establish community-supported agriculture for Susquehanna.

Benchmarks

  • A defined plan is in place to reduce the amount of Susquehanna’s carbon emissions as measured in an annually updated inventory of greenhouse gases.
  • The number and quality of green initiatives, as measured using the survey tool provided by the College Sustainability Report Card, significantly increase.
  • Students will demonstrate their achievement of learning goals in the area through appropriate ongoing assessment.
  • Future new construction receives LEED certification.
  • An increased number of formal classes use the CEER.
  • An increased number of service-learning projects and community outreach activities within the outdoor learning environments are provided by the CEER.
  • An increased number of faculty-student scholarly projects examine sustainability problems.

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6. Measure and communicate student outcomes.

The current economic crisis has increased the emphasis that prospective students and their parents place on demonstrated graduate outcomes. Extensive national research confirms that they are using cost-benefit calculations on the perceived utility of a college education in reaching their decisions. They understand that a quality undergraduate education can lead to both better employment opportunities and admission to stronger graduate and professional programs. It is imperative that we demonstrate the university’s value proposition by conveying both the strength of our academic programs and the successes of our recent graduates. By linking specific educational experiences to desired outcomes, we will emphasize the real-world benefits of a Susquehanna University education. Practically, this includes correlating student-learning outcomes with the skills sought by employers, including the relevance of experiential learning opportunities, like the GO program, internships and research opportunities, as well as highlighting the job and graduate school placements of recent graduates. We will also seek additional opportunities to enhance postgraduate opportunities for our students, for example, strengthening our efforts to encourage and support our strongest students in pursuing prestigious postgraduate awards and fellowships.

More effective and broad communication of the university’s special attributes around the themes of academic excellence, a total collegiate experience and demonstrated outcomes will give substance and validity to our value proposition; however, substantial work remains to collect the “evidence,” both qualitative and quantitative, that will lend validity and voice to these themes.

Outcomes

  • A full-service career support program is in place that provides centralized access to internships, mentoring, career development and placement services for students, alumni and parent volunteers and employers.
  • A coordinated program of leadership development is in place that provides opportunities for all students to realize their potential and identifies and prepares them for desirable job placements, admission to excellent graduate and professional programs and to compete favorably for prestigious postgraduate awards and fellowships.
  • Members of the campus community speak knowledgeably and consistently about our institutional story, using messages that are tailored appropriately for various audiences, conveying how a Susquehanna education has proven to be excellent preparation for life and careers.

Actions

  • The president convenes three cross-disciplinary, cross-unit teams of faculty and staff, with appropriate funding and support, to recommend a coordinated approach to postgraduate success for all students. These cross-unit teams will be charged to do the following:
    • Benchmark Susquehanna’s commitment to postgraduate success against best practices, concluding with recommendations to implement programs, incentives, staffing and structures to enhance Susquehanna’s reputation for demonstrated successful student outcomes.
    • Implement a coordinated approach to student leadership development; revise the student employment program to make all campus work a professional experience; expand the University Assistantship program.
    • Develop a comprehensive communications plan, based on internal and external research, that “connects the dots” for students and their families by linking a Susquehanna education, the liberal arts and our learning goals to the knowledge and skills required for success in life and career; establish a central repository of information on students and alumni to which all faculty/staff can contribute and that is available for all faculty/staff to see; define “Key Success Indicators” that are meaningful to students, their families and faculty and staff.

Benchmarks

  • Alumni data reflect high levels of satisfaction and endorsement about how their education prepared them to achieve, lead and serve.
  • Student surveys reflect an understanding that a rigorous education, grounded in the liberal arts and guided by learning goals, is excellent preparation for life and careers.
  • Alumni secure desirable employment or enroll in graduate and professional programs at well-regarded institutions.
  • More graduates secure prestigious fellowships and awards.

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7. Cultivate lifelong connections with students.

Susquehanna University’s continued success will depend heavily on our ability to engage alumni as active members of our community. Alumni can play vital roles in recruiting students, assisting them and each other through alumni career networking, serving as champions in institutional reputation building and providing significant financial support through philanthropy. Years of national research have demonstrated that volunteerism and philanthropy go hand-in-hand.

Anecdotal and quantitative evidence affirms the deep affection that the majority of our alumni hold for their alma mater; however, that affection has not translated into the high rates of alumni gift giving and volunteerism that distinguish the strongest liberal arts colleges. Such activities are learned behaviors, and we will work to demonstrate for our students the benefits of lifelong engagement with Susquehanna. Just as the community has come to appreciate that student recruitment is everyone’s responsibility, so too must we learn to work together to foster a “culture of giving” in our students. We hope to instill in students, even as they are making their college choice, the message that their relationship with Susquehanna University is one that lasts a lifetime. More vigorous and sustained collaborative partnerships will be developed among faculty and staff to create the appropriate learning environment and the cross-unit structures required to support multipurpose alumni networks.

While outcomes such as alumni giving patterns will be easily measurable, others will require the development of ongoing assessment tools to gauge the satisfaction of alumni and their impact on areas such as student recruitment, reputation building and career support.

Outcomes

  • Our students and alumni understand the value of their lifetime connection to Susquehanna.
  • Our faculty and staff are actively involved in developing and maintaining institutional relationships with alumni.
  • Our alumni network is a strong tool that is perceived as advantageous to prospective students, their families, current students and alumni, as well as to the university.
  • The relationship between Susquehanna and our alumni is perceived as mutually beneficial, with significant interplay between our alumni and the university.
  • The positive feelings our alumni have about their time at Susquehanna and their belief in the strength and future of the university translate to greater involvement in student recruitment, networking/career/professional activities and giving.

Actions

  • The vice president for university relations and the director of alumni relations will establish a mechanism for ongoing dialogue with faculty and staff colleagues. Key dialogue partners include the academic deans, the Division of Student Life, the Department of Athletics and the Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid.
  • Staff in alumni relations and advancement services, in partnership with the Offices of Information Technology and University Communications, and the Alumni Board, will continue to develop SU Bridge as the electronic toolkit and gateway that serves the Susquehanna community by linking students, faculty, staff and alumni to each other.
  • The staff in alumni relations and the Susquehanna University Fund (SUF) will establish a student “workforce” that can be productively engaged in alumni-focused work, including SU Bridge, Facebook, regional chapters, campus events and the SUF.
  • The director of alumni relations will create regular and meaningful connection opportunities to bring into dialogue current students, the Alumni Board and the faculty.
  • The staff in alumni relations will continue to develop regional chapter organizations and frame activities around strengthening the alumni network. Working with the academic deans, department heads, the Division of Student Life, the Office of Admissions, and the Department of Athletics, the alumni relations and development office staffs will increase annually the number of alumni who visit campus, who have meaningful connections with current students and who participate in student recruitment.
  • The university relations staff will lead a cross-functional effort to develop a data-driven, alumni profile measuring engagement—beginning with enrollment, building during the undergraduate years and extending beyond graduation. This becomes a primary tool for developing, at a minimum, alumni and fund-raising activities and programs.
  • The library will continue to expand the digital project of archival images related to SU history, publicize the collection to alumni and explore other collaborations with alumni relations staff.

Benchmarks

  • Registration on SU Bridge grows to 60 percent of all alumni (~9,000) and 75 percent of all graduating seniors. 
  • Campus-based activities bring increasing numbers of alumni back to SU to (1) connect with students in ways that add value to the undergraduate experience; (2) connect to and serve as resources for faculty and/or staff members; and (3) connect to each other.
  • Regional chapter activities align with alumni engagement objectives in the areas of student recruitment, career development and increased professional and social networking.
  • Alumni giving increases to at least 26 percent by June 30, 2013.

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