Through an inclusive and deliberative process, BSU has identified 11 areas of focus that are interwoven into Strategic Plan 2.0. Advancing these priorities will enable the University to continue to thrive in the face of a challenging higher education environment characterized by increased competition for students and resources, public skepticism about the value of higher education, changing student demographics, shifting employee expectations, and unprecedented rates of technological, social, and political change.
Complexity demands that we continuously adapt, incorporate emerging best practices, and bring to scale data-driven initiatives. The University needs to create the conditions for directed and organic innovation that is sustainable in the academic programs we offer, in the supports we provide to faculty, librarians, staff, and students to enhance teaching and learning, and in all other areas aligned with BSU’s strategic priorities.
New Work Paradigm
BSU’s greatest resource is its people, and we aspire to be a top place to work. The University seeks to foster the overall wellbeing of all employees. We also seek to increasingly meet employee expectations by soliciting input and feedback, supporting different work modalities, responding to demands for flexibility and work/life balance, enhancing employee engagement, providing development opportunities to increase skills and aptitudes and prepare for roles of increasing responsibility, and addressing issues of pay equity.
Mental Health and Wellness
Tending to the interconnected physical and emotional health of all students and employees is vital to fostering an excellent teaching and learning environment, and helping our students reach their maximum potential. At a time when the incidence of mental health and chronic disease is increasing, BSU is committed to providing the resources, opportunities, time, and space necessary to support the holistic health of every member of our campus community.
BSU is committed to actualizing its values as a community that rejects all forms of bias, discrimination, xenophobia, and violence and puts into practice its support of diversity, inclusion, and equity. In line with the recommendations of the President’s Special Task Force on Racial Justice, BSU is determined to examine and correct elements of policy, practice, and culture that are impeding BSU from being a more racially just, welcoming, inclusive, and equitable community that fosters a deep sense of belonging. This work is vital considering the growing diversity of our student body and BSU’s aspiration to be a national leader in this space.
BSU’s 278-acre campus requires continuous and strategic investment in upgrading its existing buildings and physical facilities, reducing the backlog of deferred maintenance, and modernizing its infrastructure. BSU is also committed to enhancing sustainability, reducing its carbon footprint, securing additional public and private resources, and leveraging external partnerships to meet the needs of our campus community. The University will also renew its long-term master plan to take account of changing space needs and demands and establish strategic capital priorities.
With states across the country cutting support for public higher education, it is important that BSU secure additional private funding to advance our mission. In 2024, BSU will launch its new “Without Exception” capital campaign with the goal of reaching President Clark’s stated goal of a $100 million endowment. This campaign builds on the work BSU has done in creating a stronger culture of philanthropy among alumni and donors, cultivating alumni and bringing them back to BSU, and building its development infrastructure to support such a campaign, all of which has resulted in BSU growing its endowment from $36 million to $61 million from 2015-2022.
If BSU is not affordable, then it is not accessible to most of our students. As affordability is relative to each student’s circumstances, BSU will continue to strive to meet each student’s individual needs, building upon its significant expansion of both need-based grants and merit scholarships. Enhancing affordability also requires that BSU continue to strongly advocate for state funding, cultivate private philanthropy, and grow our grants and sponsored projects to support our mission and reduce the financial burden on our students. BSU also must communicate the value of a BSU education, help students and families make informed financial decisions, and ensure that we maintain our position as one of the most affordable four-year degree options in our region.
Every student comes to BSU to launch or enhance their career. At a time of intense scrutiny of higher education, BSU should become synonymous with pathways to employment. BSU must reimagine and integrate career and life planning, career counseling, and opportunities for internships, professional apprenticeships, student employment, and cooperative learning into the fabric of each student’s BSU experience. We should continue to develop new academic programs and credentials aligned with high workforce demand and the needs of employers. BSU also needs to forge deeper, more systemic and sustainable relationships with the business community.
As the number of traditional high school students attending college continues to decline, BSU must adapt to a more competitive enrollment environment in which student expectations are changing. The University should further diversify its enrollment markets, and establish clear enrollment priorities, action plans, investments, and targets as part of a five-year Strategic Enrollment Plan 2.0. As returning students comprise approximately two-thirds of our enrollment, the University must continue to develop and support data-driven retention strategies supporting the success of all students.
As part of our effort to diversify our markets, we must sharpen our focus on post-traditional students – the large working adult population that continues to be underserved. In Massachusetts, there are nearly 700,000 people with some college but no degree, while only 59,000 are enrolled in higher education. To grow the number of post-traditional students, the College of Continuing Studies (CCS) will continue to increase online program offerings and focus on paraprofessional recruitment. Going forward, CCS will develop programs to align with MassReconnect and explore Prior Learning Assessment, as well as begin to address issues related to price competitiveness.
BSU will continue to forge strong relationships with Gateway Communities in Southeastern Massachusetts, with a strong focus on enhancing college access. BSU will conduct a comprehensive audit of existing K-12 programs and initiatives in order to identify possible opportunities to build on existing partnerships. BSU will expand its Early College program beyond New Bedford, with a goal of serving 500 students annually. The University will also advance its Grow Your Own Teachers initiative across the region and look to partner with college preparatory and mentoring organizations to improve college access.