${alt}

Strategic Plan Progress: A Campus-Wide, Community-Driven Endeavor

Ongoing Evaluation and Renewal

The strategic planning lifecycle includes key milestones for measuring our progress and celebrating the plan's impact. Guided by our Implementation Roadmap, we will define and monitor metrics, assessment findings, and achievements for each of the plan's goals and objectives. Regular review and reflection will help us to determine if they are active and maturing, completed/operationalized, if additional investment or prioritization is required, or if the goal or objective itself should be adjusted in some manner to address our changing needs.

In spring 2022, responding to recommendations from the Diversity Planning Team (see below), the University Planning Committee submitted a recommendation to update the previously titled "Diversity and Inclusion" strategic plan goal and objectives to include the term "equity," better reflecting the true scope of our strategic and operational needs.  In addition, this recommendation included the additional commitment that our diversity, equity, and inclusion plan and related efforts be "regularly assessed." These changes were approved by the University's President's Cabinet and Board of Trustees in May 2022, and have been updated in official strategic plan publications and this website.

Click the tabs below to learn about our progress to date, including outcomes, initiatives underway, and selected key performance indicators. strategic-plan-cycle-graphic.jpg

Goal 1: The Humanities

Ensure that the Scranton student experience is transformational, integrated and grounded in the humanities as a pathway to understanding the human experience in its many dimensions.

Under the leadership of the Faculty Senate, the University launched a multi-phased review of the general education (GE) curriculum in 2020. As part of this process, faculty will be considering the scope and breadth of the GE, the context of the Ignatian educational tradition, and goals for student learning. Review also includes reflection on the diversity requirement within the GE, complementing work already underway in many departments to more fully incorporate diverse perspectives in academic coursework and programs. In February 2022, the Faculty Senate approved the updated general education learning assessment cycle proposed by the Office of Educational Assessment;  other planned GE assessment projects remain underway.

In 2020, the University launched a new Health Humanities concentration. This eighteen-credit program emphasizes the integral role of the humanities in shaping and transforming healthcare, health, and well-being. It aims not only to provide a comprehensive humanistic education to the students enrolled in the programs for the health professions, but also to develop new pedagogical practices informed by interdisciplinarity, experiential and community-based learning, and diversity and intercultural competence.

This work has not yet begun in formal fashion, though insights from the review of the general education curriculum, along with assessment of institutional learning and program outcomes, will provide a foundation for analysis and recommendations.

Launched in 2019, the Gail and Francis Slattery Center for Humanities directly answers the call from past president, the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., to advance the University’s liberal arts tradition and enhance the core role it plays in the formation of students to become “men and women for others.” Together with the faculty-led Humanities Forum, which sponsors lectures from prominent speakers and related events, the Center is pursuing a digital humanities laboratory; humanities scholar programs for students; and increasing support for faculty scholarships in the humanities, among other initiatives.  In fall 2021, the Center hosted the Inaugural Sondra and Morey Myers Distinguished Visiting Fellowship Lecture, featuring guest speaker Lonnie Bunch, 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian, presenting “The Humanities, Democracy, and Race.”

In 2020-21 the Center welcomed its inaugural cohorts of Student and Faculty Fellows. Both fellowships are open to faculty and students from non-humanities disciplines, and include financial support and workspace within the Center, and include the expectation of published and/or presentations of their scholarly work. Two new cohorts of student and faculty received fellowships for 2021-2022.  In spring 2022, University Advancement secured a new financial commitment to support student fellowships over the next four years, as well as the creation of the new Myers Fellowship within the Slattery Center.

Increasing dialogue on and beyond our campus regarding the value of the humanities is a vital strategic goal, and this past year foci addressed our commitment to diversity and inclusion. All first year students are required to take part in the lecture and the accompanying RoyalReads program, which this year featured "The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin. The fall 2021 Ignatian Values in Action Lecture featured Dr. Yohuru Williams, a University of Scranton alumnus and Distinguished University Chair and Professor of History and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas. Dr. Williiams presented a community-wide lecture titled “The Fire This Time: Racial Justice, Catholic Social Teaching, and the promise of Jesuit Education in the Age of Black Lives Matter,” exploring the struggle for Black equality through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching with a special emphasis on Ignatian Values and the principles of Jesuit Education.

Efforts to expand support, partnerships and research contributions related to humanities education are moving forward with gusto:

  • In fall 2021, The University of Scranton and community partners received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the project, “Scranton’s Story, Our Nation’s Story.” The 2-year series of humanities-based lectures, discussions, dialogues, tours, workshops and oral histories explores the aspiration journey to fulfill our national ideals through the lens of Scranton, Pennsylvania, including industrial era growth and historic immigration as well as under-represented stories of Indigenous experience, Black history, and recent immigrants and refugees.
  • In 2020, the University joined the Global Ignatian Humanities Alliance, an affiliation between The University of Scranton, Loyola Andalucia en Seville in Spain, and Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Peru. In 2021, the University hosted a two-day virtual event for more than 40 students from the three Jesuit universities to explore Ignatian humanities. The virtual event included breakout sessions with students from three continents in which they reacted to a lecture by Scranton Philosophy professor Duane Armitage, Ph.D., entitled, “Finding God in All Things: Jesuit Truism or Ignatian Truth?

Expanding and facilitating access to scholarly content and other resources is a top priority for the Weinberg Memorial Library and its faculty. In 2020-21, the Library developed several new resources, including a Remote Biblical Research Guide to support the research needs of students in courses that include Bible research, and, with students, an online University of Scranton History of Science encyclopedia. The Library has also expanded its collections to support humanities study and research:

  • In partnership with the Theology/Religious Studies department, the Library acquired online access to the Library of Catholic Social Thought, which added 55 ebooks to its collection, including the Jerome Biblical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century.
  • Several monographs have been added to Special Collections through partnership with the Jesuit Center and the Boston College Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies.

Campus leaders continue to be included in national publications that highlight humanities education. In fall 2020, University Provost Dr. Jeff Gingerich published his article, "Through the Humanities, The University of Scranton Helps Students Find Their Calling" in AJCU Connections.  Dr. Michael Fennie, associate professor of Chemistry, published an article, "STEM and the Mission: Science as a human endeavor," was included in Conversations in Jesuit Higher Education magazine (fall 2021).

Also in fall 2021, Yamile Silva, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at The University of Scranton, was accepted to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Spanish Paleography and Digital Humanities Institute. The NEH/AHRC joint initiatives seek to advance digital scholarship.

Goal 2: Faith, Purpose, Passion

Engage students as individuals through personal attention that helps them explore their faith, discern their purpose and pursue their passion, as they work to create a more just and sustainable world.

In 2020, the University opened a new Office of Student Retention and Completion, led by inaugural director Nicholas Truncale '06, G'07.  One of the first initiatives for the Office was the development and successful pilot of a Student Success Attendance and Early Alert system. The system is being fully implemented during the Fall 2021 semester.

In 2020, the University was awarded a Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) program development grant to extend to all four-years of study an already successful First-Year Seminar program. The program encourages student reflection on vocation through a three-credit course taught by full-time faculty members.

Within the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the University increased a half-time position to full-time to provide expanded, dedicated support to students with disabilities, a growing population in our student body. Increasing this position will has also enabled the CTLE to expand their service hours.

Within Student Life, efforts to support student resiliency continue to grow. In September 2021, 95% of the Class of 2025 attended "Resilient Royals: Be Happy. Be Healthy. Be You.",  a one hour workshop dedicated to healthy coping strategies, resilience, and navigating the college transition, coordinated by the Center for Health Education & Wellness (CHEW).  In November 2021, the University held the second annual Fail Forward Panel. 98% of respondents to a post-event survey agreed or strongly agreed that the panel helped them to realize that encountering challenges and experiencing failure is a normal part of life. 87% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the panel helped them to understand the importance of courage and vulnerability in connecting with other people. And, 97% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the panel helped them to better understand what it means to be resilient and to practice self-compassion.

Student Outcomes

These and other efforts prepare our students to reach their professional goals. According to data from the Office of Career Development, nearly one hundred percent of undergraduate students were fully employed, or pursuing additional education, after graduation.  Although law school acceptance rates for all candidates nationally has been steadily declining since 2014 (a 10% decrease, averaging 73%), acceptance rates for Scranton graduates remains high, and continues to exceed national averages.  Over the past six years, the average law school acceptance rate for all Scranton students, including alumni, was 82%. The following graph shows acceptance rates for Senior students over that period:

law.png

The acceptance rate for Scranton seniors applying to medical school also continues to outpace national averages:

med.png

The University's prior strategic plan - Engaged, Integrated, Global - prioritized the development of high impact practice (HIP)programming. The foundation laid during this period is helping HIPs to flourish, including Community Based Learning (CBL), an academic experience that involves students working with individuals, groups, or organizations in ways structured to meet community-defined needs. Launched in 2017 through support from strategic initiatives funding, the Office of Community Based Learning provides a dedicated structure to coordinate CBL activities and provide support resources for University faculty through grants, workshops, and curriculum development.  All students enrolled in the Panuska College of Professional Studies must complete a CBL project prior to graduation. On average, nearly 100 community based learning course sections are offered each year.

In 2021, the CBL office launched a new Community Based Learning (CBL) Faculty Fellows Program. The program seeks to recognize, reward, and support faculty who integrate CBL as an intentional pedagogical strategy and community engagement activity into their course and/or curricular-based/discipline-oriented project. The fellowship can involve substantively revamping existing CBL activity or creating a new course or project. 

Supporting student research experiences remains a core commitment of academic life. Student participation in this high impact practice can take the form of research exposure - learning about the fundamentals and practice of research through coursework - as well as direct research experiences that engage students, often with faculty, in conducting their own research projects. In addition to the longstanding Faculty Student Research Program, Celebration of Student Scholars, and President's Fellowship for Summer Research, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs launched the rHIP (Research as a High Impact Practice) funding program in 2019 to support new or ongoing faculty-student research projects that focus on the creation of an undergraduate research/scholarship experience for the student resulting in student learning outcomes, such as inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, and foundations and skills for lifelong learning. Honors programs, such as the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Program, further engage students in research, scholarship, and intellectual problem solving, and understanding the contemporary issues of the day.

Residential Learning Communities, a high impact practice that brings students together via shared living and learning experiences, are a powerful way to build a sense of belonging and support personal and academic success. Expanding these offerings, two new learning communities are underway for fall 2021: the THR1VE First Generation Community, and Community for Transformational Learning, bringing the total to 7. In these communities, students live and study with a group of peers in exploration of who they are. Staff advisors, along with dedicated academic coaches, offer individual and group programming to support adjustment to University life.

In addition to these opportunities, the number of students completing experiential learning opportunities (such as internships, student teaching, and clinical placements) continues to rise:el-2.jpg

Our Catholic, Jesuit mission permeates all we do as a University. Through the work of the Division of Mission and Ministry, and The Jesuit Center, programs and services are in place to support and engage students, faculty, and staff in faith formation experiences, many of which are described throughout this report. In addition, these departments offer a variety of mission-oriented service opportunities, including supporting participation in programs such as the Ignatian Colleagues Program, an 18-month program designed to educate and form administrators more deeply in the Catholic Jesuit tradition. The program includes online workshops, reflection papers, seminars, a capstone experience for participants to design projects to advance mission on their home campus, and an immersion trip to the United States/Mexico border through the Kino Border Initiative. Students are introduced to the University's mission as part of new student and other orientation and onboarding activities. And, for new faculty, the Jesuit Center offers the First-Year Faculty Seminar, specifically designed to give each new faculty members a deep understanding of the Catholic and Jesuit ideals that animate our common work as well as pedagogical material and insight to help our newest colleagues incorporate the values learned with their own teaching and research.

The Center for Service and Social Justice's International Service Program (ISP) provides opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to be immersed in cultures and experiences in developing countries of our world. Although participation was limited in the past year due to COVID-related restrictions, in the last three prior years, an average of 100 students took part in international service trips (ISP) through the Center each year. Students may also take part in The Domestic Outreach (DO) service trip program to serve marginalized populations across the United States, including refugees and low income families. Four trips are planned for the spring 2022 semester. In 2021, Center added a new staff position, Coordinator of Local Service and Community Outreach, to develop and promote local service opportunities routed in Catholic and Jesuit tradition and foster strong relationships with agency community partners. Each year, students compete over 180,000 hours of service through the Center.

In March 2022, the University dedicated a new physical space, the Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. House on nearby Clay Avenue, to support the work of the Center for Service and Social Justice. The new Arrupe House will provide meeting space for students and others involved in the Center, as well as working spaces for the We Care Meal and EFFORT (Excess Food For Others Recovery Team) programs, the Craft for a Cause Program, and the Royal Restore Food Pantry that can be accessed by students or community members in need.  The We Care Meal and EFFORT programs were started during the Covid-19 pandemic, and remain important parts of the Centers' social justice and service efforts.

The Ellacuriaía Initiative continues to encourage reflection on the meaning of justice, raises students’ awareness of injustice in our society and throughout the world, and introduces students to various methods of analysis, so that they may be able to respond to create a more just society. In addition to a biennial theme, the Initiative engages the University community in considering issues of importance to Northeastern Pennsylvania and others that emerge due to unfolding circumstances. For 2021-23, the initiative is focusing on the theme of Truth and Reconciliation in the considering historical sexual abuses in the Catholic church.

Through the work of the University Sustainability Committee, University faculty, staff, and students continue to examine the our imperative to care for our common home, a charge to all Jesuit educational institutions by the Society of Jesus' Universal Apostolic Preferences. The Committee offers guidance to the Office of Sustainability, which coordinates a wide array of sustainability and environmental care initiatives across the University. In 2020,  these included the introduction of three new electronic vehicle (EV) charging stations; the growth of the Royal Community Garden; a new $110,000 recycling vehicle investment and additional recycling repositories; and University participation in the Trex recycling program.  Through 2021, over one thousand pounds of recyclable plastic bags have been collected to be recycled into Trex decking.  Since January 2020, the University has purchased 100% carbon neutral energy. This equates to fifty million kilowatt hours of carbon neutral energy being used by the University for the past two years.

The Office of Sustainability has built an intentional approach to engaging students as leaders for campus-wide sustainability projects and events via the Students for a Better Future peer program.  This approach builds students’ project management and leadership skills, while resulting in work that expands awareness of suitability initiatives and resources.  Recent projects include the design and development of maps for a guided tour of sustainability features across campus sites, filtered bottle filler and recycling stations, and other communications and campus identification signage. 

Students may directly study sustainability through the Environmental Studies Major and Concentration, an interdisciplinary academic program that introduces students to a diversity of perspectives on the environment and sustainability, both theoretical and practical.

And, the Environmental Art Show at the Weinberg Memorial Library showcases submissions by University of Scranton students, faculty, and staff. In spring 2021, the show followed the theme of "Caring for our Common Home," Submissions for the first virtual exhibit included artwork by faculty and staff that document sustainability efforts, and take visitors on photographic journeys to natural environments and habitats from Pennsylvania to around the globe. Also in 2021, The University of Scranton received an honorable mention for its green lighting of its Class of 2020 Gateway in the Tourism Ireland Greening scholarship competition. This competition included 690 other schools and iconic landmarks across the globe, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Empire State Building.

Goal 3: Advance the University

Advance the University into the future by challenging ourselves to educate and support an ever-changing, diverse landscape of students in ways that are affordable, relevant and innovative.

In support of our University-wide strategic plan, each academic college, and the Weinberg Memorial Library, is charged to develop a college-level plan of its own. Over the past academic year, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Kania School of Management, and the Weinberg Memorial Library have constructed updated their own plans.  These documents outline the college's direct support of strategic plan goals, as well as area and program specific goals for program growth and innovation, student and faculty support, and other strategies. As discussions regarding the broader academic planning structure evolves, the Strategic Enrollment Planning (SEP) process continues to drive innovation in academic program development.

Since 2020, faculty have led the development of a number of new academic programs, including:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (graduate): This new and highly anticipated graduate program, offered in conjunction with the Department of Counseling and Human Services, is designed to provide the educational and supervised fieldwork experiences necessary to achieve certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
  • Business Analytics (undergrad and graduate, and certificate): This program offers advanced courses in data mining, database management systems, simulation and Big Data to help guide businesses in improving processes through data analysis. Business analytics prepares students for such jobs as data analysts, finance/credit analysts and market research analysts.
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders (undergraduate and graduate): The bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders (CSD) is centered around the basic science of human communication including biological, physical, social and linguistic aspects, and this basic science is used as a lens to develop an understanding of what happens when communication is impaired. 
  • Cybercrime and Homeland Security (undergraduate): This major will allow students to explore social and behavioral aspects of cybercrime and cybersecurity, enhance their understanding of cybercrime law and cybersecurity policies, examine historical and evolving concepts of homeland security and emergency management. It will develop their knowledge, strategies, countermeasures and challenges of cybercrime, cyberterrorism and cyberwar, and gain hands-on experience in cybersecurity management systems, as well as digital forensics tools, techniques and methods in response to cybersecurity risks across an organization.
  • Mathematical Sciences (undergraduate): Students who major in mathematical sciences (B.S.) at The University of Scranton come to understand the interconnectedness of mathematics by pursuing a partner discipline. Mathematical sciences students choose one of five tracks: Actuarial Science, Biological Sciences, Computer & Information Science, Data Science or Physical Sciences.
  • Mechanical Engineering (undergraduate): The broadest and one of the oldest engineering disciplines, mechanical engineering involves the design, production and operation of mechanical systems and thermal systems. This major prepares students to work in a wide array of fields, including the automotive and aerospace industries, manufacturing, electronics, mechatronics and nanotechnologies.

new-programs.png

The University's Strategic Enrollment Planning Process (SEP) supports the strategic plan's call for the development of new programs and student support through action plans related to recruitment, retention, and financial support initiatives.  In 2021, the University reaffirmed commitment to this process through the formation of a Strategic Enrollment Council, which monitors the progress of a suite of SEP action plans, and corresponding key performance indicators. Read more about the SEP process, including recent initiatives and outcomes, including the creation of the Office of Student Completion, here.

fall-enroll.png

Defined as the percent of first-time, full-time undergraduate students enrolled in the fall of each year who return the following fall semester, retention at the University remains strong, outpacing national averages. However, one of our strategic goals is to increase the first-year retention rate for minority students, which, although higher than national averages, falls slightly below that for the first-year student population as a whole:retention.png

As part of our Strategic Enrollment Planning process, a new Graduate Programs Council is now in place to consider and discuss new graduate programming and avenues to better support graduate students. Data from a recent survey of graduate students identifies several areas where we can improve selected service areas, including through additional support for career development and professional networking, opportunities to participate in service activities, and research sharing.  Within the division of Student Life, new resources like Remote Royals provides information for off-campus students, a need that was amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Work is underway to evaluate barriers that may exist for students to transfer to the University. Over time, the number of new undergraduate transfer students has continued to decline:

ug-transfer.png

Another outcome of the SEP process, the Student Financing Success Plan was introduced to the Pell eligible students entering in the fall 2020 semester, providing a dedicated, comprehensive guidance to students and their families to better meet college educational expenses. Together with the Family Financing Plan, which seeks to educate and provides a viable “game plan” for the family, is supported by a new Student Financing Counselor staff position within the Office of Financial Aid.  The University has also instituted a new Book and Supply Award for incoming students, which was put into place for students enrolling in the University to start classes in fall 2021. The award provides $500 per semester to first-time, Pell-eligible freshmen to spend on campus.

In spring 2022, the University of Scranton was selected to participate in the third and final round of the U.S. Department of Education's Experimental Sites Initiative, Second Chance Pell Experiment. This opportunity enables incarcerated individuals to be eligible for federal Pell financial support, a program for which incarcerated students had previously be barred. The University currently enrolls students from the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, PA, in its undergraduate Associate of Arts Degree through the new Scranton Prison Education Initiative.

Also in spring 2022, the University announced the establishment of the Opening Doors Scholarship, which will serve graduates of the Christo Rey Network of High Schools, Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, and other similar institutions whose students have demonstrated financial need.

The Weinberg Memorial Library is leading a new Affordable Learning initiative, which aims to reduce the financial burden on students by eliminating expensive for-cost textbooks and course materials with no-cost or low-cost educational resources. Beginning in 2020, the initiative has made available a number of Affordable Learning implementation grants, and led information sessions on affordable learning for faculty. This work builds upon the momentum of the Open Educational Resources, another affordability initiative supported through University Strategic Initiatives Funding during the 2015-2020 strategic plan.  In 2021, faculty in the department of Mathematics secured a PA Department of Education Grant to support OER course materials for selected math courses.

Investments in our infrastructure are key to advancing our academic programming and institutional mission:

  • The University received a $1.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant in support of our new mechanical engineering major, which includes the reconfiguration of instructional space in Hyland Hall. Additional renovations are planned for the fourth floor of Hyland, which will begin in late summer 2021 and be completed for the spring 2022 semester.
  • Within the Weinberg Memorial Library, efforts continue to renovate key facilities to create intentional learning environments to support different learning styles, including additional open study and workspaces.
  • A new electronic facilities Work Order system was installed in 2020 for the Facilities Management department in order to more efficiently enter, assign and track preventative and general work order labor assignments across campus.
Utilizing technology well remains a key ingredient for flexibility and innovation at the University. Although certainly not a planned initiative, over the course of a few weeks in March 2020, the Division of Information Technology to keep academic and administrative functions running virtually, assisting over 6000 students and 1000 staff and faculty to successfully navigate a remote learning and working environment.  During the 2020-21 year, the library completed a new divisional plan, outlining goals to support the University’s strategic plan and guide the work of information technology into the future. Priority areas include further improvements to our technological infrastructure, including enhancements to smart classroom and event space technology, supporting equitable student access to technology resources, exploring additional technology tools to support student academic planning and success, and tools to support faculty and student research, to name just a few.

Goal 4: Diversity. Equity, and Inclusion

Reflect and understand the diversity of the world by demanding that diversity be a priority as we build an inclusive community and campus culture, develop and deliver our education and shape our student experience.

In winter 2021, the Provost charged a Diversity and Inclusion Planning Team to draft a new, University-wide plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion. This Team brings together the momentum and insights the University Planning Committee and the Council for Diversity and Inclusion, as well as students and staff from other areas. During its work, the Team developed concrete action steps for each area of this strategic plan goal, including ways to better support and increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the student experience, the faculty and staff experience, student recruitment and enrollment, academics and co-curricular learning, and alumni and community engagement. In addition to preparing and presenting the draft plan, the Team shared recommendations for sustaining diversity, equity, and inclusion planning as ongoing area of practice, including through robust and intentional assessment activity. Following campus-wide review in fall 2021, the new plan was approved by the President's Cabinet and Board of Trustees in February 2022. View the plan, here.

As noted above, the analysis and work of the Diversity Planning Team and subsequent UPC reflection resulted in an important update to the Strategic Plan itself. In May 2022, the University's President's Cabinet and Board of Trustees approved a motion to update the title and several objectives within this goal of the Strategic Plan, previously titled "Diversity and Inclusion," to include the term "equity," better reflecting the true scope of our strategic and operational aims. In addition, the languge of this first objective was adjusted to make plain our commitment to the regular assessment of the new DEI plan, and related DEI efforts.

Coinciding with the launch of the new plan, the University incorporated a call for all administrative and academic departments to share reflection on how they are supporting, or plan to support, the University's diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, as part of each Annual Planning and Reporting Cycle.

All of this work has been informed by the University's fall 2020 Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey. This survey instrument from the Higher Education Datasharing Consortium (HEDS) asked students, faculty, staff, and administrators about their perceptions of the University’s climate and how the University supports diversity and equity, as well as their experiences with discrimination and harassment at the University. 

Increasing undergraduate and graduate minority student enrollment is one of our strategic goals. Although the overall percent of enrolled minority students (as defined by federal IPEDS classifications and reporting) has increased over time, the number of students has declined. Although higher than national averages, we are identifying ways to increase retention for minority students.

student-diversity.png

As the chart above shows, approximately one-fifth of University of Scranton students are the first generation in their family to attend college. To support these students on their path to success, the University has introduced a variety of initiatives, the THR1VE program, which focuses on three pillars of support: understanding and celebrating the first-generation identity; connecting students to resourcesgu1de-mentor-logo-for-website.pnges; and
celebrating students’ successes. In addition to student GU1DE and faculty/staff mentorship and leadership programming, THR1VE introduces students to Scranton - including through the unique "Learn to Speak Scranton" guide, which helps students understand and navigate University terminology and abbreviations. The program was selected to join the national Center for First Generation Student Success First-gen Forward cohort for 2022-2023.  Shannon Murphy Fennie, assistant dean of students, discussed the TR1VE story and the essential place first generation students have in our University community in AJCU Connections magazine. 

Other initiatives are in place to better support students of color, including the August 2021 launch of the  Royals of Color Kick Off (ROCK) program, an early arrival program for new students of color. This program provides an opportunity for students to connect with peers, upper division mentors, and campus and local resources to support social network development, community building, and campus and local area connection. Student Life has incorporated a session for all incoming students that focused on diversity and inclusion, and educated students about microagressions as part of Summer Orientation.  And, since October 2021, in collaboration with the University’s Counseling Center, the Cross Cultural Centers has sponsored a weekly Student of Color Support and Empowerment Group co-facilitated by an alumnus of color and a counselor from the Counseling Center. 

Our students regularly inspire us in how they support one another.  The result of student advocacy, the Louis Stanley Brown Black Student Union was officially chartered in fall 2020. Named in honor of the University’s first Black graduate, the Union will advocate for the needs of all Black students on campus, as well as a safe space for Black students to engage in conversation about the modern-day challenges of the Black experience. The Union is chartered by the Student Government, which itself has been amplifying the voices of students of color, including through student-focused trainings, readings, and workshops, as well as social media campaigns and videos to educate their fellow students.

In 2020, the University commenced a Faculty Diversity Hiring initiative to increase racial diversity amongst our faculty. The initiative includes the development of new guidebook for faculty diversity hiring. The initiative led to successful hires in the departments of English and Theology during its first year.

The Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, in collaboration with the Office of Equity and Diversity, piloted the new Partnerships in Learning, Leadership and Reflection (PiLLaR) program in fall 2021. This pedagogical partnership pairs students and faculty to design, develop, discuss, or assess pedagogy with a focus on creating an inclusive learning environment which supports and values all learners. In addition to other pedagogy support activities,  CTLE staff developed a new book club for faculty focused on DEI work. This past January, faculty participants read and discussed "Implicit Bias: An Educator's Guide to the Language of Microaggressions" by Theresa Bouley and Anni Reinking.

Students explore diversity through the curriculum in a variety of ways, including through general education courses that hold the diversity designation:

cd-courses.png

In 2021, a session for all incoming students focusing on diversity and inclusion was added to Summer Orientation, outlining community expectations and providing focused information about microaggressions. The University's Diversity and Inclusion Council completed new curriculum for a Race and Ethnicity Awareness Workshop, open to all University departments. Other efforts include Talking About Racism:  A Community Conversation series, a project of the Greater Scranton Martin Luther King Commission in collaboration with Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Johnson College, Lackawanna College, Marywood University, Penn State Scranton, and The University of Scranton. 

Individual departments are also addressing training needs, such as the Department of Biology, whose Diversity & Equity in Hiring committee hosted a workshop for diversity and cultural competence in October. In addition to these and other existing training activities, such as the DEI Lunch and Learn “Formula for Success: D+I= A Better U!” program, efforts are underway within Student Life, Human Resources, the Office of Equity and Diversity, and the Diversity and Inclusion Council's new Faculty Development subcommittee to develop programming that addresses needs identified during our Diversity and Inclusion planning process and other recent campus needs assessments.

As noted throughout this report, multiple avenues are in place for students, faculty, and staff to take part in meaningful experiences and dialogue with diverse groups through service, community based learning, and other partnership activities. The “Scranton’s Story, Our Nation’s Story” project will sponsor a 2-year series of humanities-based lectures, discussions, dialogues, tours, workshops and oral histories explores the aspiration journey to fulfill our national ideals through the lens of Scranton, Pennsylvania, including industrial era growth and historic immigration as well as under-represented stories of Indigenous experience, Black history, and recent immigrants and refugees. Another new initiative is the work of a new subcommittee of the Council for Diversity and Inclusion, examining the University’s historical relationships with Indigenous, Black, Brown, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented groups. During the fall 2021 semester, the subcommittee has been working with the Digital History, History 190 class to research the University archives as a first step in its work.

Goal 5: Partnerships in Mission

Invite and inspire our alumni, parents, friends and community to be partners in the mission of the University.
The University is grateful for the generous support of our alumni, neighbors, and friends. Supporting academic needs, including high impact practices, the University received a $1 million gift from alumni John D. Dionne ’86 and Jacquelyn Dionne ’89 to name and support two honors programs: The Frank P. Corcione Business Honors Program; and the Robert L. McKeage Business Leadership Honors Program. The fund will support the growing Study Abroad program and other activities for students in these two honors programs, as well as other students enrolled in the Kania School of Management.

The Center for Community-Based Learning and its advisory board supports institutional development and expanded partnerships in this area. Pre-COVID 19, the University averaged 100 CBL course sections per academic year. Over the last two years, that number has decreased due to COVID restrictions. However, the University has remained academically community engaged through remote CBL projects and CBL educational opportunities such as “CBL Talks” programs involving community partners sharing with students about their work and post-talk reflective questions and exercises. Topics include: Black history then and now, immigration inclusion, economic insecurity, youth in Scranton and West Scranton neighborhood revitalization. In 2020-21, we joined with over a dozen community partners, including the City of Scranton, St. Joseph’s Center, the Scranton Public Library, and United Neighborhood Centers, and, the Bhutanese refugee committee in Scranton, to name a few.

In addition to other regionally-focused internship and other experiential learning opportunities, the University's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) coordinates the Small Business Internship Initiative to provide local experiential learning opportunities for students. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to grow their businesses with the help of local student interns, while students have access to experiential learning steps away from campus. To date, 80 unique applications have been received from businesses and 25 small businesses reimbursed for hosting internships.

In spring 2022, the University joined four other regional colleges and universities in the Jane Jacobs Collegiate Consortium. The Consortium provides student learning and engagement opportunities through courses, projects, and experiential learning programming; direct engagement with community leaders; and non-traditional career development opportunities. Participating students may earn a Jacobsian Scholar designation, awarded to a student enrolled in higher education who exemplifies the drive to engage in processes that maintain or regain the strength and resilience of equitable, diverse, sustainable communities. This summer, students may enroll in coursework that focuses on the integration of sustainable technologies in public spaces within the City of Scranton.

In 2021, the University’s Communications department created a new Alumni Advisory Board, expanding the number of academic alumni advisory groups on campus.  In 2020, The Jesuit Center launched a new Alumni Book Club, creating a digital experience for alumni to participate in group discussions and reflect on mission-oriented books of note with Jesuit Center leadership.  To date, nearly 700 alumni from around the world have registered for the club.

The University’s Alumni Society Board established its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, assisting University Advancement Staff with creating educational opportunities for alumni volunteers and foster a more diverse and inclusive alumni network. The new Rainbow Royals network was also launched in 2020, fostering continuing connections between Scranton's LGBTQIA+ alumni and the broader university community.

The University remains committed to addressing the adult educational needs of our region. In addition to growing business programming with regional health care leader, Geisinger Health Systems, in fall 2021, the University welcomed the first cohort of students enrolled in the associate of arts degree program at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, PA, through its Scranton Prison Education Initiative. This new, innovative program is expanding to welcome a second cohort for fall 2022. The University was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Education to be recognized as a Second Chance Pell Experimental Site, an initiative that expands access to Pell Grants to incarcerated students.

In 2021, the Weinberg Memorial Library became a charter participant in JSTOR’s Open Community Collections Initiative, allowing publication of our digital collections to the JSTOR platform. In 2021, graduating seniors were offered complementary one-year Friends of the Library membership, helping to continue their connection to the University and engagement with the mission of the Library.

The University has teamed up with the nationally recognized Jefferson Medical College Physician Shortage Area Program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to recruit and educate students interested in the practice of medicine in rural areas. We are one of only seven undergraduate institutions participating in the Physician Shortage Area Program

In fall 2021, the University welcomed partnership with The Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in support of the Schemel Forum, now including medical students and faculty to Forum coursework and seminars. Also in 2021, local public television station WVIA partnered with the Forum to interview guest speakers for NPR on the day prior to their event, expanding the reach of the Forum well beyond our campus.

The University’s Community Colleagues group continues to build cross-campus dialogue for impactful engagement with and support for community groups. The committee includes representation from the Center for Service and Social Justice, The Jesuit Center, the offices of Equity and Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the Community Based Learning Faculty Coordinator, the Ellacuriaía Initiative, Foundation Grants, the Leahy Family and Health Center, Small Business Development Center, the Panuska College of Professional Studies, and Office of Government and community Relations.

In spring 2021, the Colleagues group conducted a needs assessment of community partners, gathering data about current avenues and emerging community support and engagement opportunities. Respondents rated their engagement with University partners highly - over 90% noting that the community-university partnership makes a difference in their agency/community. Included amongst needs identified to continue this successful engagement are sustaining student engagement beyond the traditional fall to spring academic year; reducing scheduling and other practical barriers; and, a desire to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion training and community conversations.

In June 2021, the University announced the establishment of a new Center for Ethics and Excellence in Public Service (CEEPS). Housed in the College of Arts and Science and co-directed by Political Science faculty, CEEPS will offer learning and networking opportunities that facilitate the development of ethical and competent public officials and of civically knowledgeable, responsible, and engaged community members. The Center will also engage students with interest in public service through internship opportunities. Read more about the Center, here.

One of the University’s many avenues for partnering with and serving our regional community is through the work of the award-winning Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Hosted by the University for over forty years, in 2020 the SBDC became part of the Kania School of Management, connecting the business expertise of the Center and our faculty, and expanding relationships and educational and service opportunities within the larger business community. Complementing this focused support for regional business development is the work of The Wayne House Entrepreneurship Center, where students in entrepreneurship programs “learn by doing” in pursuit of their own business ventures.

In FY21, the SBDC team assisted 976 clients in the 8-county service area. As a result of this assistance, 42 new businesses started and $14,353,037 was secured in bank financing, disaster funding, owner investments, and other sources.  In addition, the Center has served as a consultant for farm and food business clients across the region and state as part of the Agriculture Center of Excellence since the initiative launched in 2020; the SBDC was awarded the 2020 Service Award for the Ag Center of Excellence, among other honors from the PASBDC.

The SBDC has supported other unique community needs in this past year, including, in collaboration with the University’s Community Relations department, as well as the Black Scranton Project, the webinar “A Lunchtime Roundtable with Black Women in Business.” When small, independent pharmacies were struggling to keep up with the data entry required for administering COVID-19 vaccines, staff assisted Lackawanna County; Skills in Scranton, the workforce development affiliate of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce; and pharmacy owners with the COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Response Program, to match college students and recent graduates with Lackawanna County pharmacies and medical practices for temporary, non-clinical data entry work related to COVID-19 vaccinations. The SBDC performed research, guided the team in developing a position description, and used its existing Small Business Internship Initiative connections to share the position announcement with Career Development partners at 11 regional colleges and universities.

As described here and throughout this report, the University of Scranton continues to expand upon its commitment to the success of our community, both on campus and beyond. In 2021, the University ranked No. 84 among 616 master's universities that contribute to the public good by Washington Monthly, recognizing our contributions in the areas of research, social mobility, and community and national service.

In November 2021, The University of Scranton officially adopted a Land Acknowledgment Statement to recognize and honor the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Lenape, the Munsee, the Shawnee and the Susquehannocks in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Contact us via email planning@scranton.edu, or click here to share your Strategic Plan story!

Watch for the Impact Through Action stamp in upcoming editions of RoyalNews and The Scranton Journal, as we highlight initiatives and projects related to the Plan.

strategic-impact-e-stamp.png