A Year of Growth: 2012-13
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
Each year, the Office of Planning & Institutional Effectiveness produces a progress report on our strategic plan. As we complete the third year of this plan, we celebrate the accomplishments of the 2012-13 academic year; the pages that follow feature selected achievements and key indicators of that progress. Since the plan launched in 2010, we have made strides on each of the strategies within each of the plan's three themes: Cura Personalis, Magis, and Rei Solicitudo. Yet, as we pass the midpoint of the plan, we are conscious of the great deal of work that still needs to be done.
Over the last year and a half, we engaged in our Periodic Review process, the halfway point of the decennial Middle States' accreditation process. As expected, this proved a challenging, yet eye-opening exercise, bringing together staff and faculty from across campus to measure our progress on a series of recommendations from our 2008 self-study. The process yielded much in terms of candid evaluation of what we have achieved - and has helped identify what we still need to work on as a University committed to continuous improvement. We will receive Middle States' final response to the Periodic Review later this fall, but, in the meantime, groups on campus are already working on addressing some of the challenges we need to address. The outcomes from the Review will directly feed into our planning and institutional effectiveness process. Also informing that process is the ongoing environmental scanning we conduct, and analysis of information from a variety of evaluation and assessment activities; many such reports are available on the Planning & Institutional Effectiveness and Institutional Research websites. Although some of the information from these reports finds its way into our annual strategic plan progress summaries, there is much more there to discover.
Having the right data and information is only one half of good planning. The other half is all about engagement, and engaging in collaborative, constructive ways. Scholarship about the planning process abounds, and the evidence is clear - planning is a discipline, and one that needs practice. This past spring, the University hosted the Society of College and University Planning (SCUP) Planning Institute, Step 1. This day-long workshop engaged nearly forty members of the University community in exploring best practices in higher education planning, helping to develop the skills we need to better engage in collaborative planning moving forward. We are already working to prepare to host Step 2 of this intense training activity.
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." In August 2013, President Barack Obama visited the City of Scranton, offering proposals on how we might address some of the challenging facing higher education. These proposals, and other opportunities to improve the quality and affordability of higher education in America, need to be carefully considered; for those of us working in higher education today, considering them in the context of our institutional missions is essential. As observed by Fr. Quinn, "while we excel at career preparation, we are not defined by it. We are committed to the broader purpose of helping our students to become the people they were created to be, which transcends the important work we do to help prepare them for careers or advanced study...'The real measure of our Jesuit universities lies in who are students become1'".
Keeping this in mind is particularly important as we mark the milestone of our 125th anniversary this year. Visit 125th.scranton.edu to learn more about our history, and how we are commemorating this event.
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.
Jerry DeSanto, Ed.D., Vice President for Planning & CIO
1. From an address by Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., October 2000.