A Year of Growth:2011-12
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
As we complete the second year of our strategic plan, we celebrate the accomplishments of the 2011-12 academic year.
In last year's progress report, I included some words from the inaugural speech of our 25th president, Rev. Kevin Quinn, S.J., in which he remarked on the current higher education environment. I think it's important to mention Fr. Quinn's words again: "These are challenging times in higher education. Issues such as cost, quality, access, and accountability provide easy targets for both academic heavyweights and media talking heads...But these are also times of extraordinary opportunity to reimagine the mission of the University," communicating what makes the Scranton learning experience truly unique, positioning us to be a "21st century Jesuit university in North America."
This past year, we have spent a good amount of our collective energies in improving the University's learning environments, both inside and outside the classroom. We have invested heavily in facilities, both academic and residential, and are poised to now dramatically augment and improve our playing fields for athletics. Ongoing work in the Mulberry Street Corridor, a main artery in the City of Scranton and thoroughfare through the University campus, has brought new sidewalks, lighting, and landscaping to the neighborhood. This past fall, we opened our new Loyola Science Center, and work to complete construction on adjacent facilities that will connect this exciting new facility to other parts of campus is in its final stages.
A Scranton education is second to none in terms of the service and service learning opportunities we provide and guide our students to. In this past year, students completed nearly 200,000 hours of service to others. Faculty and staff take part in a number of these activities, too; these efforts will no doubt be enhanced by the launching of The Jesuit Center at the University of Scranton, a new enterprise dedicated to enhancing the understanding of and opportunities to contribute to the University's Catholic, Jesuit mission for faculty and staff. This mission informs everything we do as a University, and everything we do as a University is designed to provide Scranton students with a transformational learning experience. As we continue to shape this experience, in support of the broad strategies of our strategic plan, our tactical plans will continue to provide focus and set goals related to the types of integrated learning experiences essential to this transformation: service, engagement, and global citizenship, all within the constructs of our Catholic, Jesuit intellectual tradition. As planners, we will continue to engage those involved in planning in environmental scanning, institutional assessment, and collaborative conversations to determine how to continue to adapt to the current challenges and opportunities facing higher education today. This year, we engage in our Periodic Review Report (PRR) process for Middle States accreditation. We expect this challenging exercise, bringing together faculty and staff from across campus to measure our progress on a series of self-recommendations we made in our Middle States Self Study in 2008, to yield much in terms of a candid evaluation of what we have achieved - and what we still need to work on as University committed to continuous improvement. The outcomes from the PRR will directly feed into our planning and institutional effectiveness processes.
I have observed over time, as I write these letters sharing updates on our planning progress, that so much of what we do is a moving target, and as much as we accomplish, we identify still more that needs to be done. I believe that is a sign of good planning - to feel as though you are in a place not only to identify and respond to external challenges and known needs, but to constantly identify new opportunities for growth. That is the magis at work at the University: our restless desire for excellence.
I invite you to read and enjoy the information provided in the links below, and, as always, to share your feedback and observations with us. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts. If you'd like to learn more about our integrated institutional planning efforts, please visit the Office of Planning & Institutional Effectiveness web site.
With best wishes for another successful year,
Jerry DeSanto, Ed.D., Vice President for Planning & CIO