Strategic Plan Implementation Report — Year 2 Executive Summary
Launched in 2012, the 10-year Stevens Strategic Plan has been aggressively implemented and methodically monitored for two years. This two-year progress report provides an update on the status of 36 of the 46 goals that have been undertaken in Years 1 and 2. A detailed report of Year 1 progress was published in Fall 2013.
Consistent with the inclusive process of development of the Strategic Plan, to which more than 300 members of the Stevens community contributed, the implementation of the Strategic Plan has been a community-wide effort. Work toward 46 ambitious goals—some multidimensional and requiring success across multiple areas and some more focused and discrete—has demonstrated significant progress in many of the six areas addressed by the Plan:
Because the Strategic Plan identified specific metrics for many of the goals, along with deadlines by which these goals should be achieved, tracking progress of the plan is also highly quantitative, where possible.
In Year 2, with the arrival of several new Vice Presidents, ownership of several goals was reassigned, and 14 additional goals were added to the 22 in process during Year 1.
As in the first year of implementation, two leadership retreats were held during Year 2 to monitor progress and plan for the future. Year 2 retreats focused on data-based decision-making and reporting, updates on Year 2 progress, and plans for Year 3. Participants included the President’s Cabinet, the Academic Council, the Chair of the Faculty Senate, and other key faculty and staff who are integral to the implementation and/or monitoring of the plan. In addition to these annual Strategic Plan implementation retreats, the Vice Presidents and the Provost report updates at Cabinet meetings, and bi-monthly meetings take place to review progress toward goals assigned to the Provost.
In addition, the Strategic Plan should be considered a “living document,” one that, with appropriate review and consensus, evolves to reflect current conditions and new information. As a result, new goals may be added and existing tasks may be modified to adapt to changing conditions.
In all cases where new goals are added or goals are modified, the ambitious standards set by the original Strategic Plan document will guide such adaptations, and the adaptations will remain consistent with the stated vision: “to become a premier student-centric, technological research university.”
Noteworthy progress made during Year 2 includes:
In Year 2 (Fall 2014), under the leadership of Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Marybeth Murphy, undergraduate enrollment grew by 7 percent to 2,892 from 2,691 students in Fall 2013. The Fall 2014 undergraduate cohort of 795 students (including 735 first-time full-time freshman) was the largest—and most academically talented—in Stevens’ history. The 25th and 75th percentile SAT score of the Fall 2014 class rose to 1260 (from 1220 in Fall 2013) and 1410 (from 1380 in Fall 2013), respectively. The number of out-of-state students increased by 5 percent to 42 percent in 2014.
Under the leadership of the Vice Provost for Academics, Dr. Constantin Chassapis, the freshman to sophomore retention rate remained a university high of 96 percent, and the six year graduation rate rose from 79 percent in Fall 2013 to 82 percent in Fall 2014, due to a number of improvements implemented in advising, mentoring, teaching, and learning.
Stevens continued its stellar record of post-graduation placement, with 95 percent of Class of 2014 securing employment, admission to graduate school, law school, or medical school, with 1 percent entering the military six months after graduation. Payscale return-on-investment rankings increased from #9 in the country in 2013 to #5 in 2014.
Recruitment and enrollment of graduate students also improved over Year 1, following the Year 1 reorganization of the graduate division and the appointment of a new Associate Dean of Graduate Admissions Shobi Sivadasan. Applications increased 20 percent from 4,322 to 5,187 from Fall 2013 to Fall 2014, and enrollment of new graduate students grew from 977 in 2013 to 1,161 in 2014, a 26 percent increase. Total graduate headcount increased three percent from 3,093 in Fall 2013 to 3,233 in Fall 2014, with a shift from approximately half to approximately two-thirds of the overall population comprised of full-time students from 2013 to 2014.
Selectivity in graduate admissions also improved by three percentage points over Fall 2013.
A new Dean of the Center for Corporate Education and Training was appointed.
Led by the Vice Provost for Research, policies and infrastructure to support a thriving research enterprise have been put in place. The number and dollar value of proposals in FY14 exceeded that of FY13, and the value of awards also increased slightly over FY13 to more than $31 million. Planning in FY14 resulted in the provision for the return of a portion of F&A recovery to academic units and principal investigators based on success in securing research funding in prior years. Noteworthy were a five-year, $60 million renewal of the Department of Defense-sponsored Systems Engineering Research Center, and three NSF CAREER awards.
Year 2 progress in the area of Innovation and Entrepreneurship has resulted in the development and recently adopted (in Year 3) IP policy, and a suite of new programs to enhance the I&E ecosystem. Among these are: an I&E mentorship program for all students and faculty wishing to engage in entrepreneurial activities; the development of the Thomas H. Scholl Lecture Series for visiting entrepreneurs; the establishment of a faculty committee on research and entrepreneurship; the development of an I&E Orientation workshop for new faculty; a required, freshman-level entrepreneurship course; and a senior year innovation course spanning two semesters aimed at introducing engineering students to entrepreneurship. A review and planned overhaul of the Ph.D. program was initiated with the goal of providing better doctoral student support to research faculty, reducing time to graduation for Ph.D. candidates, and increasing the number of graduating Ph.D. students per T/TT faculty.
In Year 2, efforts continued to institutionalize initiatives aimed at strengthening shared governance, increasing transparency, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness, and improving diversity.
Joint meetings of the Faculty Senate and the President’s Cabinet have continued in Year 2, in addition to regular meetings between the Senate chair and the President. Also, a series of informal visits by President Farvardin to academic and administrative units was instituted to improve communication between faculty and staff and university leadership. Other initiatives implemented in Year 2 include: a pilot for a university-wide review process for the academic organization of interdisciplinary educational programs and research; benchmarking of new administrative and staff positions, and once-per-semester “Conversation with the President” updates to the community.
With support of leadership, funding from the National Science Foundation and with leadership of Ms. Susan Metz, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, an ADVANCE grant is being implemented to improve the academic climate at Stevens with a parallel goal to recruit and retain women faculty. From 2013 to 2014, the percentage of tenured and tenure-track women faculty increased from 22.37 percent to 24.32 percent, while the percentage of tenure-track women faculty increased from 24.56 percent in 2013 to 31.03 percent in 2014.
Analysis and restructuring to improve efficiency and effectiveness throughout the organization continued, including a re-organized university events function and a Center for Corporate and Professional Education. In addition, new approaches to increase ROI of university resources for greater impact have been established, such as the optimization of financial aid and implementation of new enterprise systems for human capital management and undergraduate and graduate admissions.
The Internal Bridges elements of the Strategic Plan focus on strengthening Stevens’ physical and IT infrastructure, as well as the university’s financial position and fiscal outlook. Substantial progress has been made in each of these areas during Year 2 efforts.
IT upgrades impacting academic and administrative operations in Year 2 include: implementation of the Workday Human Capital Management program, a significant upgrade to the university’s HR systems; development and installation of infrastructure for the Unified Communications and Collaboration Environment (UCCE) and the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE); renovation of the Stevens Data Center infrastructure; creation of the High Performance Computing Center; implementation of the CANVAS course management system; implementation of the Slate student recruitment and CRM system; and development of an intranet for use across all administrative, academic, and research operations throughout the university.
Fifteen classrooms were created or renovated during Year 2, and a beautiful new study space was created on the second floor of the library. Colonial House was transformed into the Ruesterholz Admissions Center. Efforts continued on the Stevens campus master plan to accommodate the university’s planned growth, and the first project, the new Academic Gateway Center. Beautification of campus landscaping and re-paving of heavily trafficked campus roads were completed in Year 2, and a number of energy and sustainability efforts have been initiated to reduce Stevens’ carbon footprint, including a traffic demand program to reduce driving to campus.
New review policies and processes have been developed and deployed to optimize planning, management, and allocation of budgets across programs within schools. For the second year since the implementation of the Strategic Plan, a stronger fiscal position can be reported. The "liquidity index," which measures the sufficiency of cash and liquid assets to cover a portion of the university's annual total operating expenses (where a threshold value of 1.0 indicates a healthy level of liquidity) improved from 0.36 in 2013 to 0.55 in 2014. A further measure, the “composite financial index,” is a combination of several metrics into a single measure of overall financial health, where 3.0 is a minimum threshold value. Stevens’ computed score changed from 4.52 in 2013 to 5.21 in 2014. Other significant indicators, such as reliance on a line of credit, continue to significantly improve. In each week of FY14, the university had an improved cash balance compared to the corresponding week in the prior two years. A $9.9 million net operating surplus was recorded at the end of FY14, a substantial increase compared to the prior two years.
Mr. Brodie Remington, an experienced professional in development for higher education, was appointed Vice President for Development in June 2014. The leadership phase of a major capital campaign is on schedule, with $43.3 million raised as of June 30, 2014. Total gifts and pledges for FY14 was $22.6 million, down 14 percent from FY13 (which included a $10 million pledge from Susan and Greg Gianforte ’83). Alumni engagement increased on several fronts: undergraduate alumni donors increased 10 percent over FY13; graduate alumni donor participation increased 12 percent; the giving participation rate increased from 15 percent to 16 percent; and alumni event attendance grew from 900 to more than 1,300 in FY14.
Initiatives to broaden Stevens’ reputation and enhance the university’s prestige are bearing fruit. An improvement in Stevens’ U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Colleges” ranking (#82 in 2013 and #76 in 2014 among national universities) was recorded, including an improvement in the peer ranking category. Stevens’ placement in PayScale.com’s return-on-investment ranking also improved from #9 in 2013 to #5 in 2014, an analysis of more than 1,300 colleges and universities nationwide. Continued efforts to improve and enhance targeted marketing support for graduate admissions, enhanced alumni communications, and increased media exposure are contributing to progress toward achieving Stevens’ reputation and prestige goals.