Executive Summary - Year 8 Report
The eighth year of implementation of Stevens’ 10-year strategic plan, coinciding with fiscal year 2020 and Fall 2020 enrollment statistics, presented numerous challenges for the university starting with a cyberattack in August 2019 and continuing with a sudden and lengthy transition to remote teaching and business operations as a result of the global pandemic in March 2020. Despite these highly unusual and unprecedented circumstances, Stevens made substantial progress toward a number of goals this past year which serves to underscore the strong foundation that Stevens has built in its academic and business enterprises in the last eight years. While some of Stevens’ goals for undergraduate and graduate enrollment, student success, faculty growth, financial profile, and campus modernization and expansion may not have been fully realized this past year, the fact that substantial progress was made with respect to many other goals is an indication that Stevens is well prepared to continue its upward trajectory in the years ahead.
A summary of noteworthy progress made during Year 8 includes:
Undergraduate Studies and Experience
Total undergraduate enrollment increased from 3,659 in Fall 2019 to 3,791 in Fall 2020, an increase of 3.6%, and is on track to reach the goal of 4,000 by Fall of 2022. Freshman applications again exceeded 10,000; there were 10,349 in Fall 2020 compared to 10,475 in Fall 2019. Selectivity was 53% for students who were admitted in Fall 2020, compared to 40% in Fall 2019, largely because of the global pandemic. Despite the many challenges that the pandemic created, the incoming class (freshmen, Link, and transfer students) is 985 in Fall 2020 compared to 1,013 in Fall 2019. The middle 50 percent SAT score declined, from 1340-1500 in Fall 2019 to 1320-1480 in Fall 2020 but still exceeds the 2022 target.
The six-year graduation rate for the freshman cohort of 2014 increased to 88% from 85% for the cohort that entered in Fall 2013, the highest in recent history and which meets the target established for Fall 2022. Undergraduates of the Class of 2020 secured an outcomes rate of 95% compared to 96% for the Class of 2019, with record-breaking average starting salaries. The most notable change in the outcomes was an 11% increase in the Class of 2020 graduates choosing to pursue an advanced degree (32%) over the previous year (21%).
Stevens continued to make good progress in balancing undergraduate engineering enrollment with other majors (53% engineering of total undergraduate enrollment and exceeding the target of 60% for Fall 2022) and in increasing the percentage of underrepresented minorities in the undergraduate cohort (15.7% in Fall 2020), also exceeding the target of 15% for Fall 2022. The percentage of women among all undergraduates held steady at 29% in Fall 2020 although the percentage of women in the entering freshman class in Fall 2020 improved to 30.1% compared to the previous year. The percentage of out-of-state undergraduates decreased to 37% in Fall 2020 compared to 38% in the previous year. More progress is needed to increase these percentages and that of international undergraduates to reach the 2022 targets.
Recommendations to effect continuous improvement in student-faculty interactions, including the creation of school/college and department advisory boards that are comprised of students, were developed by an ad hoc committee. Significant efforts were undertaken by the academic units in support of the Spring 2020 semester transition to fully online learning, and the subsequent preparations for the Fall 2020 semester of remote and hybrid instruction.
Graduate Studies and Experience
Overall graduate student enrollment (FTE) decreased 8.6% from 2,848 in Fall 2019 to 2,623 in Fall 2020, and the acceptance rate in the master’s and doctoral engineering programs changed from 60% in Fall 2019 to 72% in Fall 2020, both due largely to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic including visa processing challenges for international students. However, domestic graduate student enrollment (FTE) increased in Fall 2020 to 30%, exceeding the target of 25% by 2022. A number of new initiatives were implemented as part of Stevens’ larger effort to increase and diversify graduate student enrollments. New Ph.D. student enrollment increased from 76 in AY18-19 to 126 in AY19-20, and Stevens is on-track to achieve its goal of granting 70 doctoral degrees each year by 2022. Similarly, part-time graduate student FTEs increased to 421 in Fall 2020, and Stevens is on track to reach its goal of 450 part-time FTEs by Fall 2022.
Research and Scholarship
Total research expenditures were $44 million in FY 2020, an increase from $37 million in FY 2019, and a new high. Research awards totaled $46 million in FY 2020, compared to $37 million received during FY 2019, representing a record high since 2011. Stevens researchers submitted 299 proposals compared to 292 last year, an increase of 2.4%. Also, during FY 2020, Stevens received 22 awards between $500,000 and $5 million which is another Stevens record and exceeds last year’s 16 awards by 38%. There was a 56% increase in the number of provisional patents filed in FY 2020 from 16 in FY19 to 25 in FY20. Additionally, the Center for Neuromechanics was launched and a new director was hired to lead the Stevens Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
Culture and Governance
Although searches were initiated for 32 new faculty positions, due to the effects of the pandemic, faculty searches were placed on hold in April 2020. Ultimately, 20 new stellar faculty were hired from top research institutions such as California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Northeastern University, the University of California at Santa Barbara and at Los Angeles, Michigan State University, and the University of Texas. Of the 20 new faculty members, nine are women, representing 45% of the total. Twenty seven percent of the total full-time faculty at Stevens are now women, which represents a 1% increase over the previous year. This year, a new faculty activity report system was launched which enhances the faculty activity reporting process. In a continuing effort to improve faculty and staff satisfaction and instill pride in Stevens success, a number of new initiatives were developed including telework policies and procedures as Stevens transitioned to remote operations. Stevens conducted annual benchmarking of staff salaries, and salary adjustments were made, as warranted.
Stevens continues to have a healthy fiscal profile, despite numerous unanticipated budgetary impacts this year. During FY20, the Budget Advisory Committee unanimously endorsed the continued use and fine-tuning of the Responsibility Center Management model. The School of Business successfully finished its reaccreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and external unit reviews were completed for two academic units. Administrative unit reviews for three units were started but paused in March 2020 due to the many urgent demands associated with the global pandemic. Stevens’ reliance on its technology enterprise was tested during a cyberattack in August 2019 and then again as an abrupt switch to remote teaching and business operations was implemented in March 2020. New cybersecurity initiatives to improve Stevens’ security posture were put in place, substantial progress was made on the Workday Student project, and best-in-class technology for teaching and learning was quickly implemented to support remote operations. A strong and accomplished new Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer was also recruited.
The Gateway Academic Center was completed, numerous renovations and upgrades were made throughout the campus, and significant progress was made on the construction of the Student Housing/University Center project, with a target completion date of May 2022.
New gifts and commitments to The Power of Stevens campaign totaled $179 million at the end of FY20. Gifts and pledges for FY20 were $14 million bringing total campaign gifts to the endowment to $82 million and exceeding the strategic plan goal of $80 million. While Stevens’ U.S. News & World Report peer assessment ranking has not yet reached the desired target, the peer reputation score, which is used in the ranking calculations, remains at 2.9, up from 2.6 in 2014. Despite the challenges of a campus under construction and transitioning to remote learning and business operations in March 2020, progress continued to be made to enhance the campus visitor experience. Stevens’ 150th anniversary was the primary initiative leading into 2020, and it provided the basis for highly visible activities on campus. The pandemic created new challenges, and many campus activities were put on hold. As a result, Stevens created and provided many different but compelling virtual experiences for visitors, and consistent with prior years, a wide variety of initiatives were implemented to demonstrate Stevens’ value and contributions to the Hoboken community. Two “corporate friendly” committees continued to work to advance the university’s corporate engagement initiatives.