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Strengthen Areas of Core Commitment

Our previous strategic plan (approved by the Board of Trustees in 2003) resulted in significant progress in a number of areas identified as essential for advancing our educational mission. While some of those initiatives have been realized and are now fully operational, others require continued or additional attention. Our first area of focus is on the completion and strengthening of that work.

 

1. Further develop a diverse and inclusive community.

Diversity is a core value of the inclusive excellence we seek and continues to be an educational imperative that remains a central commitment for Susquehanna.

As endorsed by the Board of Trustees in 2007, the Statement on Diversity and Inclusiveness declares Susquehanna University’s “commitment to being an engaged, culturally inclusive campus. [This] entails understanding how … differences impact the ways in which we experience the world, the beliefs that emerge from and frame those experiences, and the impact of power and privilege on our lives. Such engagement takes account of the lived realities of students and is essential for effective teaching and learning, equitable governance and decision making, and healthy community life.”

Diversity reflects the range of individual experiences, ideals and interpretations of the world that emerge from differences in cultural traditions and backgrounds. These differences embrace gender, race and ethnicity, religion, language, abilities, sexual orientation and gender identity, socioeconomic status and more.

While we continue to seek to diversify our community in the ways previously outlined, increasing representational diversity in the student body, faculty, administration and staff remains a focal point toward achieving the level of visible and invisible diversity necessary for institutional transformation to occur. This critical mass is necessary to elicit the educational benefits of diversity that will ultimately enrich all in our community.

A significant amount of attention and energy will be directed toward the completion of the implementation of the “Connections” section of the Central Curriculum (with its diversity and cross-cultural requirements) to give all students the theoretical, experiential and reflective tools to build more inclusive communities. In addition, faculty and staff development opportunities on issues of diversity and inclusiveness will be implemented and integrated into regular cycles of orientation, training and evaluation.

The special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion/chief diversity officer (CDO) will support the creation of robust networks for diversity and inclusion across academic and administrative units. In collaboration with senior staff, the CDO will implement policies and procedures to make us a more inclusive community, noting that building understanding, promoting dialogue and creating support systems are areas of focus for us all. Progress will require collaboration and partnership among students, faculty and staff and will undoubtedly come with challenges that test the strength of our community. It is probable that acts of intolerance such as racism, homophobia and other forms of bias will occur. We will seek to be better prepared to respond to these incidents, to learn from them and to grow as a community through them.

Outcomes

  • The university operates through a working model for diversity that is sustainable and that enables the capacity of the Susquehanna community.
  • The provost, vice president for student affairs/dean of students and the chief diversity officer have increased informal and formal connections between departments such as the Centers for Civic Engagement and Diversity and Social Justice, the Offices of Cross-Cultural and Off-Campus Study, First-Year Programs, the library and others that can support cross-cultural learning.
  • Communications about our commitment to diversity and our expectation for outcomes at every level of the university are clear, direct and transparent.
  • The academic performance, retention and persistence to graduation for Susquehanna’s students of color are comparable to those of majority students.
  • The enrollment of community college transfers, international students and military veterans has increased, with academic performance, retention and persistence to graduation comparable to those of traditional-aged students.
  • Students acquire cross-cultural competency through the “Connections” section of the curriculum.
  • The affirmative action search process for administrators and staff is clear and rigorous and results in more diverse applicant pools for open positions.
  • Benchmarks for representational diversity in our students, faculty and staff have been reached.

Actions

  • The senior staff will create accountability measures for diversity outcomes via divisional and departmental Diversity Action Plans.
  • The vice presidents for finance, student life and university relations, in collaboration with the chief diversity officer, will work to identify and increase resources and support for co-curricular diversity and inclusion initiatives that encourage intentional opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue and experiential learning outside of the classroom.
  • The chief diversity officer, with the Diversity Advisory Board and the director of institutional research and assessment, will lead a group charged to conduct an institutional assessment and diversity assets audit.
  • The vice president for enrollment management and the chief diversity officer will collaborate on developing and executing strategies for building relationships with community colleges to create pathways for academically qualified students to transfer to Susquehanna to complete their bachelor’s degrees and providing appropriate support systems for those students upon their enrollment.
  • The vice president for enrollment management, the chief diversity officer and the vice president for student life/dean of students will collaborate on developing and executing strategies for comprehensive admissions programs for international students and military veterans and providing appropriate support systems for those students upon their enrollment.
  • The provost, vice president for enrollment management, the chief diversity officer and the vice president for student life/dean of students will work with the director of the Center for Academic Achievement and the director of First-Year Programs to align efforts to increase the academic performance, retention and persistence of students of color.
  • The faculty, working with the deans, the provost and the director of cross-cultural and off-campus programs, will fully implement the “Connections” section of the Central Curriculum.
  • The chief diversity officer, acting as the affirmative action officer, will collaborate with hiring managers to develop diverse pools and provide Susquehanna the opportunity to hire qualified candidates from protected groups.

Benchmarks

  • Responses to student satisfaction surveys report a more positive campus climate for all students, and students of color in particular.
  • The Bias Response and Education Team (BRET) is increasingly used by the campus community to report incidents of bias and is simultaneously effective in its response, including documented resolution of reported incidents.
  • The academic performance, retention and persistence of students of color, community college transfers and military veterans are comparable to those of majority students.
  • Students demonstrate their cross-cultural competency through appropriate ongoing assessment of the “Connections” section of the Central Curriculum.
  • The diversity of the American minority faculty is maintained at the fall 2009 level of 17.3 percent.
  • By fall 2013, the Susquehanna community is more diverse and inclusive, as follows: 
    • Students from 8.9 percent American minority in fall 2009 to at least 11 percent
    • Administrators from 7.2 percent American minority in fall 2009 to at least 10 percent
    • Hourly staff from 5.0 percent American minority in fall 2009 to at least 6 percent
    • International students from 1.8 percent in fall 2009 to at least 3 percent
    • Transfer students, particularly those from community colleges, from 6 percent in fall 2009 to at least 10 percent

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2. Complete the implementation of the Central Curriculum.

The Class of 2013 (entering in the fall of 2009) is the first to study under the requirements of the new Central Curriculum. Consequently, new courses must be developed, staffed and assessed to cover requirements, particularly in those areas that expand beyond the old Core, namely, language, diversity, ethics, interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and team and oral intensives. Success will depend on redeploying existing resources and deploying new resources to provide appropriate cross-crediting opportunities to maximize faculty and student flexibility. The Committee on the Central Curriculum will provide development opportunities for both content and pedagogy in all Central Curriculum courses and will develop tools for assessment of the Central Curriculum.

A major piece of the new curriculum is the requirement for a cross-cultural experience followed by a reflective course. High-quality, cost-effective opportunities to satisfy this requirement will be developed that increase both short and semester-long experiences provided by Susquehanna faculty and staff, and by exchange and consortial collaborations. For financial reasons, we must decrease our dependence on third-party study-away providers and create an adequate administrative structure to effectively manage this program within the boundaries of larger budget constraints.

Segments of this new and ambitious curriculum will impact faculty and staff workloads significantly, and mechanisms will be developed to support that work.

Outcomes 

  • Our students, starting with the Class of 2013, complete their course of study in the Central Curriculum without delays or inappropriate exemptions.
  • Our students, starting with the Class of 2013, achieve the learning goals set out in the Central Curriculum, as well as the University Learning Goals.
  • The Central Curriculum is a significant attraction to prospective students and faculty.
  • The Central Curriculum is recognized as exemplary by higher education organizations and peer institutions.

Actions 

  • The faculty, department heads, deans, and provost continue to work with the Curriculum Committee to create the array of courses necessary to populate the Central Curriculum, with particular emphasis on those areas not yet fully developed: interdisciplinary, intensives and cross-cultural.
  • The department heads and deans will ensure that students in every major have a clear road map for meeting the Central Curriculum requirements.
  • The provost, deans and department heads continue to implement faculty workload arrangements for short-term GO programs and interdisciplinary courses, and additional faculty lines are allocated in support of these and other Central Curriculum needs.
  • The Committee on the Central Curriculum works with faculty to implement an ongoing assessment program for the Central Curriculum.
  • The Committee on the Central Curriculum, working with the Center for Teaching and Learning, provides ongoing, appropriate faculty development opportunities connected to Central Curriculum content and pedagogy.
  • The provost, the director of off-campus and cross-cultural programs and the vice president for finance work with faculty and staff to create an adequate infrastructure and program costs for the GO program within appropriate budgetary boundaries.
  • The provost and the vice president for university relations work to raise resources for off-campus and cross-cultural study through giving and grants.
  • The provost and deans support their own and faculty and staff’s dissemination of Central Curriculum successes in appropriate conference presentations and other publications.
  • The provost and the associate vice president for communications publicize the Central Curriculum and its distinctive attributes.

Benchmark

  • Our students demonstrate their achievement of the Central Curriculum learning goals through appropriate ongoing assessments.

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3. Sustain support for faculty scholarship and collaboration with students.

Susquehanna University is an institution that values substantive, collaborative scholarship between faculty and students. Even with significant losses from the endowment, we will seek to preserve funding for these valuable experiences. Over the next three years, developing additional mechanisms to assist with collaborative and independent scholarship will be an institutional priority. We acknowledge that sabbatical leaves remain an important tool to support faculty scholarship and regeneration, and that they have continuing benefits for the university community as a whole. We commit to developing within the faculty an even greater level of accountability and transparency in the availability and administration of resources to support student/faculty-staff collaboration with the aim of utilizing them as effectively and equitably as possible. Because we retain a commitment to substantive interaction with students and because we believe that sustained and significant scholarship is possible at the present level of faculty teaching loads, changes in these loads are not envisaged. Rather, we will continue to recognize and reward a broad spectrum of faculty scholarship and creative activity and, where feasible, give priority to collaborative work with students.

Outcomes

  • Our academic departments and programs, based on a review of current opportunities for student/faculty-staff collaboration in their curricula, have proposed or implemented additional opportunities in this area, as appropriate.
  • Our campus recognizes and celebrates student/faculty-staff collaboration through increased participation in and attendance at scholarly and creative campus events and in other ways that demonstrate the value that we as a community place on it.
  • A significant proportion of our faculty members are engaged in scholarship and creative activity and also collectively produce significant scholarship and creative works. Such work enjoys recognition and prominence in campus culture, and a significant portion of it is nationally recognized by the respective disciplines and professional organizations to which faculty belong through its publication in peer-reviewed outlets and performance in respected venues.
  • Adequate internal and external resources are devoted to supporting faculty scholarship and creative activity.

Actions

  • The provost, working with the academic deans and faculty, maintain and, as necessary, enhance structures to support undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity. These structures must include effective consideration of ways in which these activities are related to faculty teaching, scholarly/creative and service/citizenship expectations and evaluations.
  • The provost and academic deans work with the expanded Office of Foundation and Government Relations to enhance support for grant seeking and grant writing by individuals, collaborative groups and the institution.
  • The provost, working with the Division of University Relations and the Faculty Scholarship Committee, sustains funding to support faculty research, including providing some targeted opportunities for collaborative and interdisciplinary work. Such funding would continue to be distributed on a competitive basis but would expand proportionally with the expansion of the faculty.

Benchmarks

  • Maintain, proportional to growth, the level and quality of faculty scholarly and creative activity.
  • Maintain, proportional to growth, student presentations at national and regional conferences and number and quality of student/faculty-staff publications.
  • Maintain, proportional to growth, the level and quality of library resources and services supporting faculty and student scholarly and creative activity.
  • Increase the number of external grant applications submitted.

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4. Complete the assessment infrastructure.

Susquehanna University has made great strides toward establishing an infrastructure to support the assessment of student learning and of institutional effectiveness. The centralized approach provided by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment has prepared us for this long-term continual process. Our priorities for this strategic plan include seeking more effective strategies for using and communicating assessment data and more cogently telling the Susquehanna story, particularly as it relates to outcomes. First, we will enhance student learning assessment by combining the student learning assessment efforts of academic and administrative departments to allow us to better convey the seamlessness of a Susquehanna University education and to create important linkages across the university’s divisions. Given the importance of the Central Curriculum in the future of the university, specific ongoing assessment tools will be created in this area as well. Second, and equally important, we will evaluate institutional effectiveness—the extent to which we achieve our institutional goals. Certainly, this strategic plan sets out goals for the next three years, and the successful achievement of the defined benchmarks is an indicator of institutional effectiveness. In addition, longitudinal assessments of retention, graduation rates, student and faculty/staff satisfaction, the range of financial ratios and other variables will be regularly tracked in an inclusive program of assessing institutional effectiveness. Furthermore, mechanisms for benchmarking and competitive assessment for continual improvement in our administrative processes will be developed to complement the Key Performance Indicators, which will be evaluated and modified as appropriate given this strategic plan. In the years that precede our decennial Middle States self-study, and as a matter of best practice, assessment will become more central to our daily work and to our ability to connect with our external constituencies.

Outcomes

  • Assessments for each learning goal in all areas of the Central Curriculum are identified.
  • Assessment data are used to make improvements related to each of the expressed learning goals for all majors and minors without corresponding majors.
  • A communications plan regarding the assessment of student learning and institutional effectiveness is implemented.

Actions

  • Our faculty establishes a steering committee for each area of the Central Curriculum. All faculty involved with each area of the Central Curriculum are involved in the assessment process.
  • The senior staff and deans, with the director of institutional research and assessment, will work with each academic and administrative department and program to design and implement an assessment program for institutional effectiveness.
  • The senior staff will develop and communicate an institutional policy regarding the public sharing of student learning and institutional effectiveness data.
  • The director of institutional research and assessment will draft and distribute to the community a biennial report compiling information on student learning assessment, with a focus on the University Learning Goals and on institutional effectiveness.
  • The director of institutional research and assessment will propose an annual survey schedule that is approved by the senior staff.
  • The senior staff and the director of institutional research and assessment will establish guidelines for and begin the implementation of a decennial review process for administrative departments.

Benchmarks

  • Annual department reports for both academic and administrative departments reflect the results of their student learning and institutional effectiveness assessment activities and the changes that have resulted from them.
  • Susquehanna’s 2014 Middle States decennial review affirms our work in the assessment of student learning and institutional effectiveness.

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