Summary—A Plan Focused on Leadership
Cedar Crest, at this critical point in its history, has refined its mission to focus clearly on the important work of women’s leadership. Beginning this year and into the next decade, the College will rededicate itself to educating tomorrow’s leaders through
- New academic programs in leadership development
- New initiatives to strengthen current academic programs, preparing students to lead in their field of study
- New co-curricular and residence life initiatives that increase student engagement in leadership activities
- New opportunities for students to strengthen their leadership abilities by broadening their college experience beyond the campus
Of the many initiatives in the Strategic Plan the most important are those relating to the academic program. Cedar Crest is a vibrant community where distinguished faculty and intellectually gifted students collaborate in transformational learning experiences. The centrality of teaching and learning constantly motivates us to reexamine our curriculum and increase its relevancy to the student and her future. It is noteworthy that, although the College’s academic program has evolved to meet the demands of six generations of women, its dedication to liberal arts education has remained a constant throughout its 143-year history. Faculty are deeply committed to the value of a liberal arts education: a broad-based foundation of knowledge, the ability to evaluate and analyze, problem-solving skills, breadth and depth of learning for life. However, modern life poses new challenges and presents new demands for a traditional liberal arts education, and the expectations of students and their families have changed, influenced by seismic social and economic changes, increasingly rapid advances in technology, shifting demographics, and strained job markets. These challenges reinforce the need and demonstrate the value of a liberal arts education.
The Strategic Plan confronts these challenges. Liberal education is reframed in new initiatives that will engage students in learning experiences that are directly related to success in life and livelihood, enabling them to be thoughtful citizens, to communicate and interact effectively, to be capable of making reasoned choices, to become successful leaders, to learn and use a broad body of knowledge, to appreciate and employ multiple perspectives, to lead lives that will have a positive impact on our world.
Cedar Crest’s liberal arts identity is an essential foundational piece in the Strategic Plan. Indeed, “Scholarship, the Liberal Arts, and Creativity” is the first of Five Broad Principles that define the College’s strategic direction for the next decade, and, as illustrated in the Strategic Logo, is central to the other Principles. Women’s Leadership, Global Connectivity, Civic Engagement, and Health and Wellness are connected to and complemented by the central focus of the academic program: Scholarship, the Liberal Arts, and Creativity. In our classrooms and across campus, it is important that each student sees the interconnectedness of all aspects of her experience at Cedar Crest: her major field, her liberal arts curriculum, other coursework, scholarship, campus activities, and off-campus involvement are all part of one holistic learning experience. The strength, distinctiveness, and centrality of our liberal arts education will continue to define Cedar Crest experience throughout the life of our new Strategic Plan.
Our Broad Principles define areas in which Cedar Crest already has demonstrated strength and distinctiveness. Over the next several years, we will implement twenty-two new initiatives designed to enhance our position, strengthen our current academic program, and expand our reach:
- New undergraduate majors, certificates, and coursework
- Global Studies Major
- Media Studies and Visual Communication Majors
- Legal Studies Program
- First-Year Experience (Preparing Women for Leadership)
- Cooperative Education Program: Four-year Accounting and Marketing Experience
- Integrated Cross-Cultural Studies Certificate
- Strategic Leadership for Women Certificate
- Case Management Certificate
- Child Welfare Certificate
- Writing Resource Initiative
- New academic centers and institutes
- Women’s Leadership Institute
- Multicultural Center
- Ethics and Care Center
- New graduate programs
- Counseling Master’s Degree
- Reading Master’s Degree
- Professional Science Master’s in Chemistry
- Crime Science Master’s Degree
- Art Therapy Master’s
- New academic opportunities in international and cooperative learning
- Study Abroad Program
- Global Community Center
- New co-curricular and residence life programs
- Living Learning Communities
Adult education is an additional area that has significant potential to impact the future of the College, and a separate Evening College Commission has been established to research and design a new Evening College division. The goal of this division is to increase student enrollment by responding to specific needs and demands of the adult student population, which are very different from those of the traditional student. These efforts are in keeping with our mission of educating women, since nearly 70% of adults returning to college are women.
Our strategic work on initiatives related to the Five Broad Principles will be accompanied by strategic action in two areas critical to the College’s success: Enrollment and Development.
The College’s history attests to the great achievements that are possible through dedication, hard work, and belief in the importance of women’s education. These accomplishments, even recently, have often been realized under difficult conditions and against seemingly insurmountable odds, and are laudable. However, in an age when institutional viability is a function of financial strength, this is not a sustainable model. We recognize the strategic mandate for Cedar Crest to position itself in a new place of stability and strength for the long term
Undergraduate enrollment fundamentally affects program quality, as a critical mass of students is needed to support a vibrant intellectual community in each academic area. For our College, enrollment is also a critical factor because we are a tuition-driven institution, and thus our revenue is directly connected to enrollment. The College has taken a serious look at enrollment management, restructuring the office, hiring a senior executive vice president, working with outside consultants, and taking the first steps toward a major upgrade of our web presence. These and other enrollment management strategies are an integral part of the Strategic Plan and are expected to achieve the following:
- increase enrollment in both the traditional and adult education sectors
- capitalize on graduate program opportunities
- improve the academic profile of our student population
- promote greater balance in enrollment across the full range of majors
- improve our retention rate
A second significant area of focus will be development. The data and research clearly demonstrate that all institutions raise more funds during a capital campaign. The College recently ended its Transforming Lives campaign; consequently we are a few years from commencing a new campaign initiative. This timing, while somewhat challenging, does create the opportunity to build a strong foundation for a successful campaign. To this end we have hired a new Vice President of Advancement and major gifts officer, restructured our Advancement office, completed a wealth screening process, and formed a trustee lead cultivation committee.
All institutions of higher education are facing the new reality of the world economy, volatile endowments, and the challenges of fundraising in an economic downturn. Cedar Crest, an institution that will be 150 years old in 2017, has successfully maneuvered through past difficulties. The new economic world order, however, does require the implementation of a realistic plan, tied to strategic initiatives, to ensure that our financial position does not decline. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education confirmed this in its report on our Periodic Review. Our efforts will require a variety of strategies including steadily building our development office, expanding our donor base, increasing our participation rate, and expanding planned giving.
Cedar Crest must secure the resources to ensure its viability and sustainability in a rapidly changing higher education marketplace. Thus strategic fundraising is an integral part of our strategic plan with the following goals:
- to secure the financial resources to support the initiatives contained in the Strategic Plan
- to increase every area of development, including endowment fundraising, planned giving, and the annual fund
- to increase grant funding, including foundation grants
- to establish a small number of endowed chairs and endowed professorships
- to create endowed and current-use scholarships
- to find private support for current and new facilities on campus
- to lay the groundwork necessary for a successful capital campaign
- The success of the Strategic Plan is closely tied to our success in these two functional areas.
The Strategic Plan is both introspective and prospective. We aspire to educate the next generation of leaders, a goal at the heart of our identity. This gives us infinite energy and inspiration to implement our Strategic Plan. We seek to achieve our vision for the next decade through initiatives built upon historic institutional strengths, new avenues of exploration, and strategic thinking in key operational areas.
The initiatives and strategic directions contained herein will be Cedar Crest’s top priorities for the next decade. The College will continue to identify areas where resources must be dedicated to actualize these ideas. Other planning activities are also underway. Most notably, a campus master plan will be designed to map out our use and expansion of physical facilities.
We emphasize that the Strategic Plan is not a static document. We expect and hope that ideas and plans will evolve, the world will change, challenges will present themselves, new possibilities will emerge. Implementing the Plan will be a journey requiring industry, creativity, and agility; the promised destination: a position of success and security for this great College
Download Strategic Plan