• University of St. Thomas Strategic Directions announced

    I am pleased to present to you the Strategic Directions that the board of trustees approved on Thursday, Sept. 21, and Father Dennis Dease announced last Friday.

    These Directions are the direct result of intensive work on the part of many members of the community, including the Study Groups and the Executive Vice President’s Cabinet. The Strategic Directions are a statement of our priorities that will focus our strategic planning efforts in the coming months. As such, they set before us both a guide and a challenge. In the coming weeks there will be several opportunities for dialogues about the impact and implications of the Strategic Directions. Dates and locations will be announced in the Bulletin Today.

    Please visit the strategic planning Web site for complete background information about the Strategic Directions, including the recommendations made by each of the study groups. The site also contains information about the next steps in the strategic planning process.

    The University of St. Thomas is poised to become an outstanding Catholic urban university, as indicated by our commitment to excellence and the challenges we have accepted. I invite and encourage your participation in the strategic planning process.

     

    University of St. Thomas Strategic Directions adopted Sept. 21, 2000

    Catholic Identity

    The Catholic identity of the University of St. Thomas will be seen through its continuing engagement with and examination of the Catholic social, intellectual and spiritual tradition; its embracing of the complexity and diversity of the meaning of Catholicism; the commitment of all parts of the university to active exploration of the contributions they might make to the strengthening of values-based education for our students; and its unique mission as an urban university.

    Diversity

    The University of St. Thomas will continue its efforts to enhance the diversity of the institution at all levels and to cultivate a climate on all campuses that will support and nurture diversity initiatives. Immediate attention will be given to the following:

    • Create a vice presidential position responsible for diversity;
    • Develop and execute a comprehensive (five-year) diversity plan for the university that establishes accountability at all levels;
    • Become a leader of best practices for creating a diverse educational community;
    • Allocate the necessary resources to move forward aggressively with this initiative.

    Enrollment — Undergraduate

    In recognition of the fact that our academic reputation is, in part, judged on the academic profile of each incoming class, the University of St. Thomas commits itself to the development of strategies that will result in the incremental improvement of the academic profile.

    In our commitment to a high-quality, liberal arts education, a supportive campus environment and our recognition of fiscal realities, the University of St. Thomas commits itself to a day undergraduate enrollment cap of 5,500 (FTE) students on the St. Paul campus. The size of the new freshman and transfer classes will be strategically planned each year based on academic profile, resource (human and facilities) availability and market potential.

    Graduate Programs

    The University of St. Thomas is committed to excellence in its graduate programs. In support of this excellence, the university will reorganize services to create a common administrative center for the sharing of resources and costs in such areas as inquiry management, application processing and marketing communications, while recognizing the unique nature of each graduate program.

    Faculty

    The University of St. Thomas will focus faculty resource support upon effective teaching that is informed and enriched by a productive scholarly agenda.

    • The university will continue to increase funding by a minimum of $50,000 annually (for 10 years) for the University Scholars program so that faculty with a scholarly agenda endorsed by their chairs, dean and the vice president for academic affairs may have teaching loads of five or four courses during the years in which documented outcomes support the reduction.
    • Additional funds in support of continuing five- or four-course teaching loads may be those allocated currently to the maxi-grant and research assistance grant programs.
    • The university will enhance the profile of the Faculty Grants office with the intent of increasing funded research through outside grants. This will include reviewing the relationship of the Faculty Grants office to the Center for Faculty Development, the Development Office, and the Controller’s Office, as well as the infrastructure of the office itself.

    Finances and Facilities

    The University of St. Thomas will implement a multi-year operating and capital budgeting process that incorporates the guiding principles of prudent fiscal management. The revised process will evaluate current and proposed programs and initiatives against the strategic priorities of the university and, where applicable, reallocate funds and/or reprioritize programs consistent with those strategic objectives.

    The facilities planning process will:

    • Be driven by the programmatic needs of the university derived from strategic planning;
    • Focus on our reputation for providing a high-quality educational experience;
    • Be responsive to existing needs;
    • Anticipate future needs and opportunities;
    • Be attentive to the style and character that distinguish facilities as St. Thomas buildings.

    Facility construction will be fully funded by philanthropy whenever possible. Building construction should be undertaken only when a source of funding for operations and maintenance has been identified.

    Technology: Online Learning

    Building on the knowledge gained by successful delivery of online programs, the University of St. Thomas will commit resources to distance education/online
    learning. These resources will be expended in a manner consistent with the mission of the institution, good pedagogy, and the criticality of on-line learning to the survival of programs. The decision to provide online programs should be made only after thorough research, market analysis and benchmarking to ensure that the university offers unique and viable programs. Priorities will be established with the following principles in mind:

    • Freshman/sophomore courses in the undergraduate day College depend on classroom interaction and low faculty/student ratio; technology should be used to enhance courses, not to substitute for classroom interaction or “seat time.”
    • Given the higher level of maturity of students in junior/senior courses in the undergraduate day College, technology may be used to advance career skills by giving students exposure to the experience of online learning; courses may reduce the amount of classroom time but should still require considerable face-to-face interaction with faculty and peers.
    • Adult-learners, professional and graduate students (with the exception of law students and seminarians) should be the prime audience for online learning. Courses in graduate programs and the School of Continuing Studies may be designed with little or no classroom time.

    Technology: Organizational Structure

    The University of St. Thomas commits itself to providing the highest level of quality information resources, technology and instructional media in support of teaching and learning and the administrative functions of the institution. To that end it will:

    • Create a new organizational structure that builds upon the competencies of existing departments, specifically Instructional Support Services, Computing and Communication Services and the Libraries, and realigns their services into a stronger whole;
    • Appoint a vice president for information resources and technology;
    • Commit to the purchase and installation of a new comprehensive administrative computing system.

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