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2008 Strategic Plan

The Plan for Juniata

In the seven years since Juniata last produced a strategic plan, the College has enhanced the campus and its signature buildings, launched hallmark educational and community programs, increased the size and quality of enrolling classes, and made significant gains in international presence. These gains have resulted in Juniata's appearing in a wide array of college guides, assessment matrices, periodicals, and newspapers, always - by whatever measure - lauded as an institution with exceptional promise, a distinct character, and a clear vision for its future.

In short, Juniata is performing well. But throughout its history the College has never been satisfied with the status quo. Thus we began this strategic plan with a rewriting of our mission statement to succinctly describe what we expect the outcome to be for every Juniata graduate. We emphasize that at the heart of every discussion was not how can Juniata be better, but rather how can Juniata be better at producing outstanding graduates? Our new mission statement envelops that philosophy. It reads:

Juniata's mission is to provide an engaging personalized educational experience empowering our students to develop the skills, knowledge and values that lead to a fulfilling life of service and ethical leadership in the global community.

We expect students will seek Juniata because of the transformative power of its education and the experiences they have while earning it. Further, we expect our graduates, so influenced, will seek opportunities where they can help others and change the world around them. Indeed, Juniata already provides much of the experience our mission statement outlines. Accomplishing our new strategic goals will make the College even better at preparing graduates for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century - and for effecting positive change in the world.

The Context and the Process of the 2008 Plan

The challenges facing higher education are documented extensively elsewhere. The current and near-term challenges in job markets, the economy, and culture are the purview of other publications. But we face several issues ahead that are the best kind of challenges - those created by prior success.

Juniata has achieved its highest enrollment, largest number of applications, most talented students, and completed the largest capital campaign in College history. In the last ten years the College has also created a much more hands-on learning experience assisted by the addition of 200,000 square feet of new and renovated learning space and by developing many more off campus educational experiences through new partnerships. Most importantly we now have the College's best faculty ever - no simple task considering the talent of the faculty over the College's history. Certainly the adage "great faculty hire great faculty" is absolutely true at Juniata. These successes provide the launching pad for further improvement.

After reviewing potential elements of a new strategic plan with the faculty and administration, President Kepple and Executive Vice President of Advancement and Marketing John Hille met with over 100 alumni in 12 cities in 2006 to gauge interest in these elements. In addition, the Board of Trustees discussed the plan at its retreat in 2006, and the Alumni Council revised the plan in 2007. Input from these meetings was given to subcommittees for their deliberations.

The Strategic Plan committees included 88 members representing students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees. These individuals were provided access to Jim Collins' book Good to Great and the Social Sectors as well as the Drucker Foundation's Self Assessment Tool. Through the Collins book we learned that "greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness it turns out is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline." We also recognize greatness as a common dedication to a shared vision.

Through the Drucker Self Assessment Tool we answered the questions: What is our mission; who are our customers; what do our customers value; what are our results; and as you will see, "what is our plan?" Through this process there emerged three major strategic initiatives, each geared toward enhancing strengths we either possess or can develop, to ensure our long-term competitiveness and effectiveness as a College: the Teaching and Learning Environment Initiative, the 21st Century Initiative, and the Economic Advancement Initiative.

The Teaching and Learning Environment Initiative

Juniata has long benefited from its distinct values of community, experience, and service. We have historically attracted scholars whose interests ran deep in their specializations and widely across the liberal arts and sciences. They modeled for students a curious, multi-faceted intellectual approach to learning, and sought innovative ways to provide them experiences that further tested their learning and their abilities. As a result, we have developed an excellent reputation among current and prospective students, as well as the academic community, for our teaching and learning programs, and for our experiential learning in particular. As we become widely imitated, it is crucial that we remain competitive as leaders, for the health of the institution and the competitive advantage of our students.

Improving such strengths requires both a recognition of the roots of our strengths and a plan for developing them. While other liberal arts colleges of our size profess dedication to supporting faculty and developing excellence in teaching, we have devoted substantial planning to the improvement of our teaching and learning environment, to provide greater strength and opportunities for the education offered to our students.

We have planned for strategic gains to achieve the goal of empowering every student for a fulfilling life of service and ethical leadership in the global community. We will make plans and seek investment for three distinct areas:

To develop faculty strength, we will:

  1. Have a Center for Teaching Excellence in place by 2009 to support faculty working on improving aspects of their teaching. Considerable momentum for this among the faculty is shown by the strong response to learn more about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Dr. David Drews, is leading a working group of about 20 faculty in this effort. We will seek funding for the Center for Teaching Excellence.
  2. Create a new plan for faculty development by 2009. This plan will include a realistic goal for increasing faculty development funds, will address how faculty development funds are allocated, and will develop a process to assess the use of faculty development funds.

To increase experiential learning opportunities, we will:

  1. Review our freshman year programs to assure every student is receiving not only the best possible resources for success but is also fully engaged in coordinated, interactive and collaborative learning with other students and his or her advisor beginning with summer orientation and continuing through the first year. Further we will review activities in the sophomore year to improve that year's educational and social experience for our students.
  2. Create programs by 2009 to address interpersonal and intercultural skills of our students including: networking, interviewing, resume development, portfolio creation, and social skills.
  3. Expand our international programs by 2010, with special emphasis on new and expanded programs in China, India, Germany, and Africa.
  4. Ensure every Juniata graduate will have at least one distinctive experiential learning opportunity related to that student's educational objectives. These may include: internships, service projects, extended off-campus class experiences, research, student teaching, or international study. These experiences will provide the opportunities for our students to test and develop their skills in a "real world" setting, develop self-confidence and/or gain a better understanding of a culture or perspective different from their own. The vast majority of our graduates will have several such experiences. We will work diligently with Juniata alumni to cultivate existing partnerships and establish new ones.

To build connections and influence in our communities, we will:

  1. Determine by 2009 the feasibility of offering masters degrees in IT and Business through our international partners in Germany.
  2. Leverage assets in our highly successful Education, Science, and Science in Motion programs to have at least 10 additional students in each class preparing to teach elementary through high school science and math by 2010, doing our share to help meet the national need for science teachers.
  3. Consider adding summer masters programs in science education, environmental science and non-profit management by 2010, taking advantage of our considerable resources in these areas.
  4. Develop a partnership with Campus Continuum, a successful Age 55+ Active Retirement Community directly connected to the College, by 2010.

The 21st Century Campus Initiative

The location and character of Juniata's campus has long been an asset for those seeking a safe and stimulating place in which to pursue their educational goals. As the national competition for ever brighter facilities and ever grander amenities accelerates, we have exercised restraint through the College's recent history, eschewing fads and instead concentrating on improvements to help accomplish the academic mission of the College while enhancing the natural beauty and community feel of Juniata.

Juniata has welcomed its largest incoming classes ever over the last few years, and the growing population of the College will lead to demand for classroom and other learning space that we must anticipate now. In addition, as we continue to attract students with diverse interests and passions, those hallmarks of persons who engage with liberal arts learning, we must plan for a campus that will continue to support them as they evolve.

The 21st Century Campus Initiative plans for the long term health and expansion of our facilities, for limiting our dependence on non-renewable energy and our exposure to the impact of soaring costs, and developing a vision for providing students with a motivating and inspiring environment.

"The faculty, staff and administration with whom the Hartwick team met appeared to share a common interest in instructional innovation and experiential, student-centered learning. Major themes appeared to be getting students involved to 'own' their learning and helping each student see how his or her learning could contribute to a larger evolving plan for personal development and aspiration achievement. Juniata appeared to consider their experiential education philosophy to be an important factor in influencing student success." - Hartwick College Team visit report 2007

To pursue this broad initiative, we will:

  1. Expand our efforts to practice and promote environmental sustainability. We are making good progress on sustainability so our plan will take us to the next level by completing the American College and University President's Climate Commitment - a commitment to develop by 2009 an action plan and programs with a timetable and measurable outcomes to become climate neutral.
  2. Improve and expand facilities key to the academic mission. By the end of the summer of 2010 Juniata will have completed the restoration of Dale Hall, Good Hall, Founders Hall, Oller Track, the renovation of Muddy Run, and a new eating facility in the former main computer lab of BAC. By fall of 2011 we will have developed architectural plans, cost estimates and funding strategies for:
    • renovating Beeghly Library,
    • continued renovation of Brumbaugh Academic Center,
    • renovation of South residence hall,
    • constructing a music wing for the Halbritter Center,
    • installing a turf athletic field,
    • renovating a World Languages and Cultures Cluster,
    • constructing a studio art building,
    • and completing the transformation of Alfarata, the former elementary school that now houses the Sill Business Incubator and the Juniata Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
  3. Develop a Campus Master Plan. By 2011 we will have completed a campus master plan for improvements and opportunities through 2026 with particular emphasis on residence halls, recreational space, the student union in Ellis Hall, and enhanced accessibility.

The Economic Advancement Initiative

To continue to attract and educate excellent students we must develop a long term economic model to provide resources to make a Juniata education more affordable, valuable and marketable as a result of high quality and outstanding outcomes.

Part of our advancement initiative means we will adopt policies and approaches to increase the income from tuition and enrollment, essentially widening the income stream to adjust as we grow. However, we also must build our endowment over the short term to be on par with the minimum level of our competitors, and long term to fuel innovation in our programs and to bolster our affordability against the caprices of fluctuating classes and shifting economic conditions.

To act on this strategy, we will adopt strategic policies and build our financial resiliency.

We will adopt the following strategic policies:

  1. Pursue economy of scale enrollment. With the number of Pennsylvania high school graduates declining and the make-up of these graduates diversifying, Juniata must increase the number of students from outside Pennsylvania and the number of minority students. Not only is added diversity educationally desirable for a 21st century education for every student but it is essential to maintain an economically sustainable enrollment of 1460 FTE students. By 2011 our student body will comprise at least 40% from outside Pennsylvania, of which we seek to include 10% international and at least 10% domestic minority.
  2. Improve our already highly competitive retention and graduation rates. To reach our 1460 student enrollment by 2011 we will achieve a six-year graduation rate of 80%, with 95% of graduates earning their degrees in four years or fewer.
  3. Seek capital gifts for facility and program needs identified in the campus master planning process and through the ongoing capital budget process.
  4. Continue to assist Huntingdon and this region to improve our community, emphasizing projects that increase the tax base to support improved infrastructure (schools, water, sewage, transportation, recreation and improved appearance of the community), that support retention and development of amenities (retail, restaurants, hotels, childcare, healthcare, retirement housing), that improve primary and secondary education and that improve employment opportunities for Juniata employee spouses and recent graduates. These projects will assist in attracting and retaining students, faculty and staff - the human capital so necessary for our success.

We will build financial resiliency:

  1. By growing the endowment. By 2011 through additional gifts and market appreciation our endowment will have increased to $100m or more and our planned giving pipeline for endowment from $40m to $60m or more. A special effort will be made to raise scholarship endowments to assist students in attending Juniata.
  2. By increasing giving to support the annual scholarship fund. By 2011 our annual scholarship fund will have increased from $1,000,000 to $1,300,000 with a longer term goal of $2m.
  3. By building the endowment and the annual fund, and pursuing economy of scale enrollment, we effectively will reduce our dependence on unfunded financial aid. We must insure financial aid as a percentage of gross tuition rises less than the average of our peer institutions.
  4. By 2011 the Juniata Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the Gravity Project, and the Raystown Field Station will have achieved self sustaining budgets.
  5. By 2011 the College will have reduced its debt level below the $33m we had on May 31, 2007.
  6. By 2012 we will have increased the capital and special funding budget to 3% of our annual budget to support the maintenance of existing facilities and equipment, as well as support innovation and creativity. In addition, Juniata will continually review campus business processes to identify opportunities to improve operational efficiencies.
  7. By 2011 we will have reviewed our art and library collections to decide what is compatible with the College's long term educational and outreach goals and what items should be sold. The process will honor all commitments the College has made to donors. The funds generated by sales will be reinvested in additions to the permanent collections, the facilities to house the collection and the staff to conserve the collection.

Conclusion

  1. The previous cycle of strategic planning foresaw a strengthened campus infrastructure, growing enrollments, an institution-wide elevation of the quality of the faculty, all geared toward positioning Juniata as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States, and one that prepared its graduates well for wherever their intellects and ambitions would take them. The College has realized that vision, and has positioned itself for what must happen now.
  2. Will Rogers once said, "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." In enacting this plan, this strategy to build a better Juniata, we will embark on the most ambitious and defining fundraising effort in our history, as we build the endowment and position ourselves for its continued growth. We will enact the most sweeping and far-reaching plan in Juniata's history to improve and expand what it means to teach and learn at Juniata. And we will shape and direct the evolution of our campus to ensure that our place, Juniata's bedrock campus, will stay true to its character while nimbly responding to changes around the world.

Commendations

Juniata is mentioned in scores of diverse guides, articles, and measures of colleges and universities. Regardless of evaluation methods, the College is consistently praised as supportive, innovative, and a model for the best that liberal arts education can be.

We are praised for our overall offerings in Baron's Best Colleges, Peterson's Competitive College Guide, U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and The Fiske Guide.

We are recognized for our distinctive focus on experience and excellent outcomes in Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives; Weinstein's Making a Difference College Guide; the Teagle Foundation's study, "The Nation's 13 Best Performing Colleges;" and The Unofficial, Unbiased, Insiders Guide to the 331 Most Interesting Colleges.

Our accessibility and openness to students from diverse economic, social, racial and ethnic backgrounds has been recognized by the Center for Student Opportunity's College Access Guide and Leland Miles' Provoking Thought: What Colleges Should Do for Students.

We are lauded for our commitment to service and community in guides like Rugg's Recommendations on Colleges, usnews.com's "America's Best Colleges - A+ Options for B Students," Entrepreneur.com's "Colleges with an Entrepreneurship Emphasis," Washington Monthly's College Rankings, Don Asher's Cool Colleges, and ELLEgirl magazine's "Top 50 Colleges that Dare to be Different."

For those wondering what our students themselves say, see Vault's College Buzz Book, College Prowler, and, believe it or not, Cosmo Girl Magazine's "The Top 100 Colleges and Universities."

A complete list of What Others are Saying About Juniata