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January - June

Campus input for working groups to develop plan draft.

February

Board receives progress report.

June

Board reviews draft plan.

July - September

Working groups refine proposals.

Review and endorsement of plan by faculty and SGA

October

Board to approve final plan

Susquehanna University is a national, private, liberal-arts college, which, from the time of its founding, has been distinguished by a commitment to economic diversity and formal and informal service-learning. The University is one of only three higher-education institutions to require a study-away experience of all its students, and it is one of only seven private undergraduate residential colleges with an AACSB-accredited School of Business.

Susquehanna has a tradition of over performing: graduation rates are consistently above those predicted by national media, employment rates and median earnings of our alumni are well above the averages for four-year graduates nationwide, and the quality and condition of the physical plant is better than many institutions with considerably more financial resources.

Susquehanna is in an unusually competitive market with Pennsylvania leading the nation in the number of private colleges and universities, many of which are of very high quality and reputation. Following the economic downturns of 2001 and 2008, higher education nationally has seen stagnating finances for the families of college-bound students while real expenses have continued to rise. This has led to increased competition for students seeking affordability, which in turn has created tenuous financial circumstances for institutions across higher education. That has been compounded by a demographic and geographic redistribution of potential students of traditional college age and a concurrent diversification of modes of instruction. There will also be a decline in traditional-aged students beginning in 2026.

Susquehanna has succeeded in maintaining incremental enrollment growth, but this has been accompanied by stagnation, and in some years, recession of net-tuition revenue per student. Returning to an all-residential model has allowed revenue from room and board to sustain operations, but since full subscription has been in place, revenue has not kept up with inflation.

Prudent management and successful implementation of Susquehanna 2020: Thriving at the Intersections of Mission and Market have placed the University in a position of increased strength; however, to guarantee sustained prosperity, Susquehanna will need to develop and execute a bold, mission-driven plan that is student-centered, builds on institutional strengths, improves operational metrics, and expands our market share to accommodate impending population declines.

Susquehanna already has important assets in place to aid this planning work including a talented and dedicated faculty and staff, enviable facilities, and a dedicated alumni base. Our use of the Gallup Strengths finder and employee engagement analyses, the use of variable compensation, an exclusive commitment to merit-based salary increases, and our access to a rich repository of data analyses through EAB will provide important tools for us to complete this work effectively.

Charge

The Senior Leadership Team and University Council will lead the development of a comprehensive, mission-centered strategic plan to achieve four Philosophical Goals by 2026 while advancing the University’s operational metrics on a concurrent, seven-year timeline. The resulting plan will allow annual assessment of these metrics and a concomitant renewal of the plan.

Approach

Planning

Seven working groups, each chaired by a member of the Senior Leadership Team and comprising members of University Council and other constituents of the campus community will develop plans around their respective foci that will advance one or more of the Philosophical Goals and one or more of the Operational Metrics. As these plans are developed, each group should address these common questions:

  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • Who will be affected, and who will be responsible?
  • What strengths does this use, and what resources will be required?
  • How will we measure success?

Throughout the academic year, University Council will review developing plans.

Metric Development and Analysis

The Senior Leadership Team will continue to refine the metric projections, review plans in progress for operational efficacy, and offer recommendations to each working group of potential areas for new or continued planning work to advance metric goals.

Planning Documents

The completed institutional plan will be a concise outline of initiatives tied to a time table of outcomes, which the Senior Leadership Team will edit. That group will also compile a detailed tactical guide that includes operational details and analyses needed to effectively implement each component of the plan. Both documents will be updated and archived annually to reflect progress and appropriate strategic revisions.

Schedule

A nascent plan will be shared with the Board of Trustees at their February meeting so they can provide mid-term feedback. A formal plan will be completed in time for review and endorsement by the faculty and SGA in late spring. That plan will be presented to the Board of Trustees for their ratification in June.

Mission

Susquehanna University educates students for productive, creative, and reflective lives of achievement, leadership, and service in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world.

Philosophical Goals (Vision)

  • Strengthen academic and developmental excellence
  • Expand support of access
  • Become a model community for diversity and inclusion
  • Become a model community for sustainability

Planning Working Groups

Diversity and Inclusion

Members: Dave Ramsaran (convener), Eli Bass, Antella Brzenchek, Jennifer Bucher, Linda McMillin, Joann Mieres, Maria Munoz, Naomi Niskala, Dena Salerno and Michael Thomas

Foci

  • Internationalization
  • Students, Workforce and Community

Guiding Questions

  • How do we make ourselves a more welcoming and inclusive community?
  • How do we Recruit and retain a progressively more diverse pool of students, faculty and staff?

Enrollment

Members: Madeleine Rhyneer (convener), Nick Clark, Reuben Council, Danielle Ditty, Adam Guo, Scott Manning, Tom A. Martin, Aaron Martin and Minjung Park

Foci

  • Internationalization
  • New Markets
  • Transfers

Guiding Questions

  • Which new student populations do we need to target?
  • How do we choose new regional markets to enter?

Operations

Members: Mike Coyne (convener), Jennifer Bucher, Lori Ellison, Wade Johnson, Melissa Komora, Stuart Mosebey, Bonnie Rice, Molly Roe, Laurence Roth, Nick Spicer and Erica Stephenson

Foci

  • Fundraising
  • Innovation

Guiding Questions

  • How do we build a culture of innovation, experimentation, and resilience?
  • How can the student experience across campus be more integrated, personalized, and efficient?
  • How do we focus time and resources toward our highest priorities?
  • How can we build upon our early successes with Gallup?

Persistence

Members: Susan Lantz (convener), Valerie Allison, Jimmy Black, Mimi Diallo, Carl Faust, Allison Fordyce, Monica Leitzel, James Pomykalski, Dave Ramsaran and Betsy Verhoeven

Foci

  • Graduation
  • Retention
    • High-need students
    • First-gen students

Guiding Questions

  • What do students need to transition from high school to the first year of college?
  • How do we facilitate students finding their best academic home?
  • How can we better coordinate support for students who encounter difficulties?
  • How can we create intentional pathways back to SU for student who need to take time away?

Programs

Members: Linda McMillin (convener), Phil Betz, Nick Clark, Emma Fleck, Crystal Gibson, Marcos Krieger, Susan Lantz, Valerie Martin, Matt Rousu and Betsy Verhoeven

Foci

  • Academic Excellence
  • Innovation
  • Internationalization
  • New Markets

Guiding Questions

  • What are our traditional strengths?
  • Where do we have capacity?
  • Are there new opportunities connected to student interest or regional needs?
  • How can the GO experience further permeate curricular and co-curricular programs both pre and post travel?
  • What are other ways to enhance internationalization efforts on campus?
  • Where might strategic investment create the best yield?

Reputation

Members: Aaron Martin (convener), Colleen Bunn, David Imhoof, Kelly Jockwer ’16, Lynn Palermo, Madeleine Rhyneer, Matt Rousu, Michaeline Shuman and David Steinau

Foci

  • Brand
  • Communications: internal and external

Guiding Questions

  • How do we build greater brand recognition?
  • What are effective ways to market Susquehanna’s strengths?

Sustainability

Members: Phil Winger (convener), Chris Bailey, Karla Bohmbach, Sarah Farbo, Andy Howell, Scott Kershner, Derek Martin and Kathy Straub

Foci

  • Energy
  • Health

Guiding Questions

  • How do we reduce waste and energy use?
  • How can we expand the presence of sustainability throughout our curriculum and programing?

Faculty and Student Scholarship

Members: Karla Kelsey (convener), Matt Rousu, Olu Onafowora, Helen Kiso, Corinne Byrne, Matt Persons, Pavithra Vivekanand and Martina Kolb

Foci

  • Faculty Scholarship
  • Student Scholarship and faculty/student collaboration
  • Funding (External and Internal)

Guiding Questions

  • How can we increase financial support and time for faculty scholarship?

  • How can we improve the structure of evaluation and reward of student mentoring and faculty-student collaboration?
  • How can we improve the integration of scholarship and pedagogical practices?
  • How can we encourage innovation in faculty and student scholarship?
  • How can we leverage faculty scholarship to improve recruitment of students, faculty, and generally improve our reputation?