At Juniata College, our 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. Our vision is to be known as a place that inspires citizens of consequence to understand the world in which they act. Here, our students find a community that is wholly committed to their personal growth and intellectual development, while engaged in an academically rigorous and personally enriching academic experience. It is our hope that Juniata graduates will live lives of meaning and happiness, while making substantive contributions to the world as global citizens.
Centering the student experience is the hallmark of Juniata College. As one student so succinctly put it in Colleges That Change Lives “That’s Juniata. It’s all about possibility here. It’s all about people saying, ‘What are your biggest dreams? Let’s see how we can help you get there.'”
This strategic plan builds on these foundational principles. It ensures we live up to the promise we make to our students and community members, while remaining nimble and adaptive to the challenging environment in which we find ourselves. By staying true to the students we serve, we can seize on the opportunities laid out in this plan to ensure that all who wish to be a Juniatian will have a college experience that has a profound and meaningful effect upon the entirety of their lives.
KEY PLANNING PRINCIPLES
The following principles will be integrated into all our strategic commitments:
Our financial health is supported by tuition and fees revenue; the generosity of alumni and friends of the College; and our responsible stewardship of resources. Mindful resource allocation, generation of new revenue streams, and spending discipline will be hallmarks of our ongoing fiscal management. We will transparently communicate our financial circumstances with the college community and educate stakeholders about tradeoffs and priorities. Establishing a clear campus-wide understanding of our financial position will enable us to anticipate emerging trends, respond quickly to changes, and better seek the support of future philanthropic investors.
Recruitment & Retention
Strong financial viability is the result of the successful recruitment and retention of our students. In the face of challenging demographic trends and increased competition, finding prospective students and communicating our value proposition is critically important. Keeping our students through graduation by delivering on our promise is paramount.
Equity & Inclusion
Juniata College continues to work to close gaps between the current experiences of our underrepresented members of the Juniata community and our stated goals and aspirations. We continue to celebrate the differences of our committed faculty, staff, and students as we help
Juniata become more accessible and inclusive. Our work around Equity, Inclusion and Belonging will receive sustained and intentional effort by all members of the college community.
Many Juniata faculty and staff have demonstrated their creativity in the programs we develop and the ways in which we do our work. Collectively, we must be willing to try new approaches, to be flexible and adaptive to changing circumstances, and to quickly identify and seize opportunities.
The shift to remote teaching and work during the pandemic made clear the importance our technology infrastructure has on our success. It supports teaching, learning, research, and scholarship. Technology also provides mechanisms for collecting, maintaining, analyzing, and reporting the data we use to continuously improve. Ongoing investments being made in technology will lay the foundation for our strategic aspirations.
Our students experience a distinctive, hands-on, personalized educational experience. The Program of Emphasis is a unique alternative to a traditional major/minor system that sets Juniata apart in a crowded educational marketplace. Whether through community-engaged learning, study abroad, or conducting research with a faculty partner, our ability to provide students with robust high-impact practices positions Juniata to be one of the premier institutions in the country for experiential learning.
Our faculty advisors thoughtfully guide our students, ensuring that nearly all of our students who graduate do so in four years or fewer, while still taking advantage of the bevy of educational experiences available to them. As one sophomore studying Environmental Science said after they met with their advisors, “I just didn’t know my life was happening now.” That student would go on to study in the Galapagos Islands, complete a semester at the Raystown Field Station, and spend back-to-back summers with paid internships in their chosen field. This rich academic experience with few limitations distinguishes Juniata in the eyes of those who wish for a collegiate path distinct from the norm.
Those who find their way to Juniata College do so intentionally. Surrounded by natural beauty on and off-campus, students can immerse themselves in a truly residential college experience. Our surrounding community provides a tremendous practical advantage for students. Abundant natural resources serve as outdoor laboratories, and the town of Huntingdon functions as the economic heartbeat of the county, providing our students with opportunities to gain important real-world experience in their field of study.
At our core, Juniata strives to be a strong, supportive community for all who seek it out. Those who were first in their family to go to college have found in Juniata a place where they will be given the opportunity to achieve success. One first-generation student, now a doctor, said about Juniata “I have no doubt in my mind that Juniata College forever changed my life... I remain forever grateful to the mentoring and challenges that Juniata presented to me. I feel almost blessed to have found such an extraordinary place.”
This strategic plan comes at a time of significant external pressure and market disruption
surrounding higher education. Already facing a decline in the traditional college-aged
demographic, an even greater enrollment shift looms in the years ahead. The composition of traditional college students is changing, as more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) students enter the pool and adult learners seek a college degree. All the while, these students are looking for academic programs that prepare them for specific careers with readily available outcomes. Juniata has felt the strain of these external pressures and our hyper-competitive market, as enrollment has dipped while the discount rate has risen.
Economic pressures are far from the only challenges facing Juniata. Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean a return to pre-2020 life. Students feel a significant burden as they grapple with an increasingly complex world. This anxiety translates to an increased need for support services, like additional learning services and mental health counseling.
Student expectations for technology are also changing. Nearly all incoming students have grown up in a technology integrated world and experienced some form of online or remote learning before college. Online and hybrid modalities are the expectation rather than the exception. The pandemic revealed that we have the capacity to adapt quickly to students’ technology needs and expectations in the short-term, but we now must expand our capabilities for the long-term, while still delivering a robust residential experience.
Being serious about meeting the needs of our students also means prioritizing the work of making Juniata an inclusive place for all. While progress has been demonstrated, we must continue to enhance our efforts toward delivering a diverse learning environment. Our faculty and staff should reflect the diversity of the student-body, and the work necessary to creating an equitable campus culture should be distributed to all. We must put equity work at the forefront of all that we do and cannot accept the current status quo.
Over the last few years, the Juniata community has demonstrated remarkable resolve. Showing a willingness to innovate and think critically about what a Juniata education means in the future, and how we meet the challenges of the moment while staying true to who we are. We created new academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels to meet market demand, made major revisions to the general education curriculum that better serve our students, formalized institutional learning outcomes, added new sports and co-curricular activities, acquired new properties to support academic activities, and witnessed significant growth in our endowment.
The Juniata Alumni community remains strong and engaged as evidenced by the successful completion of BELIEVE: A Campaign for Juniata, which raised nearly $130 million and represents the largest philanthropic campaign in our history. This positions Juniata well as we launch this new strategic plan. The support shown by our alumni provides us with the ability to weather future financial challenges, deliver innovative academic programs, and serve future students for generations to come. Deployment of these resources must align with the priorities presented in this plan and keep the mission and student experience centered above all else.
Throughout the year-long strategic planning process, we engaged with hundreds of members of our campus community in focus groups, forums, meetings, and surveys. We received many creative and thoughtful ideas from students, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and friends. While not all ideas made it into the final plan, many led to multiple discussions and the development of the high-level commitments the college will pursue.
This strategic plan will ensure that Juniata:
- remains a destination for students seeking a distinctive academic experience by positioning Juniata as a premier institution for experiential and personalized education.
- creates an equity-driven culture that ensures Juniata meets the needs of all students and undergirds all aspects of our work.
- enhances the campus experience to better attract and retain those seeking a fully residential, on-campus learning experience.
Our next steps include establishing operating plans to drive forward with this important and transformative work. We will identify the tactics, resources, responsibilities, and timelines to realize this plan and regularly report on our progress to campus stakeholders.
A challenge lies in front of us, but with a commitment to this plan, Juniata will emerge stronger and with a renewed sense of purpose, like it has done many times in our history.
COMMITMENT #1: ACADEMIC DISTINCTION
Juniata College will provide students with distinctive academic programs and educational experiences that are rooted in a contemporary understanding of the liberal arts and prepare them for fulfilling futures, including successful careers and lives of leadership. Our goal is for Juniata students to have robust educational experiences that positively impact the world in which they live. We will engage students throughout their education in academic experiences that have significant value in their personal lives and support their attainment of personal and professional goals.
1. We will deliver new programs and enhance current undergraduate and graduate academic programs that are demand-driven and build on areas of opportunity and existing strength.
Faculty collaboration, commitment, and creativity have resulted in a wide variety of academic opportunities for students, a distinctive feature of the Juniata College experience. Fostering this innovation by supporting and building upon these opportunities is critical for our future as we anticipate social, economic, and cultural needs. Strong academic programs will bolster enrollment, improve retention and graduation rates, and enhance revenue.
2. We will be a leader in higher education for experiential and personalized education.
Experiential education is an area of strength at Juniata College. Juniata students are more likely than the students at peer and aspirant institutions to participate in two or more experiential learning opportunities. Ensuring all students have opportunities to participate in the full range of these experiences is critical.
Experiential education bridges the theory-practice gap and directly addresses the career readiness of Juniata College students who are ready to make a tangible difference in the world immediately upon graduating. It prepares them for life after college in terms of career readiness in a global marketplace as well as being a global citizen. Career exploration should be a critical part of a liberal arts education and allow students to realize their professional goals. Juniata must prepare our graduates for the changing and unpredictable future of their career paths. Leveraging both the freshly conceived Office of Career Development and Alumni Engagement and the extraordinary strength of our alumni network will help us to present students with professional expertise, mentorship, and career opportunities.
3. We will be an exemplar in fostering global education and connections and we will lead in ensuring a prospective expression of global education.
International education has been an area of strength for Juniata College. In 2012, the College was awarded the Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization which recognized faculty dedication, innovative approaches to internationalization, and institutional commitment to international education. Recent events, including the COVID pandemic and a global social justice movement, were strong reminders of the importance of global interdependence and the extraordinary value of global education. Those events have challenged us to reexamine international opportunities and operations to best meet the needs of contemporary students to ensure we can attain our desired outcomes.
4. We will deliver an inclusive approach to teaching and learning that ensures all contemporary students have the tools and resources to graduate successfully.
Teaching and learning are inherently dynamic endeavors and must adapt to meet the changing needs of an increasingly diverse group of learners so that we are graduating students prepared to lead and serve. An adaptive culture of continuous improvement means a dynamic and flexible curriculum as well as staying current in best practice with regard to teaching methods.
COMMITMENT #2: EQUITY-MINDED CULTURE
The world of higher education has been changing for several years, however, the pace of change in our market and in the needs of our students have more recently been accelerated by societal and social justice factors, advances in technology and the pandemic. As the demographics of students change, there is opportunity to be found in leaning into our equity-minded values that supports the broader campus culture, inclusive of students and other stakeholders, as well as the specific organizational culture of the College as an employer.
1. We will further build the organizational capacity of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office (EDI).
The incoming Class of 2025 is the most diverse we have ever seen. In addition, all students have experienced education in a pandemic environment that has changed paradigms in society and education. Our EDI Office must be staffed appropriately to identify and support the various needs of students to foster an inclusive environment.
2. We will eliminate equity gaps in outcomes and access to campus services for all students.
We know from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and peer comparative data that we can better support and retain our Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic students of color. We will focus efforts on this important endeavor to improve their experience and outcomes at Juniata.
3. Increase the diversity of faculty, staff, and administrators.
This goal can be addressed at every opportunity to hire faculty, administrators, and support staff at the College. In addition to full-time hiring, Juniata will strategically employ visiting scholars and remote staff to increase the diversity of perspectives and identities that we introduce to campus life.
4. We will foster a collaborative, inclusive climate, by building cultural competency based on mutual trust and respect that make us change-ready to meet emerging challenges within the Juniata community.
By fostering cultural competencies through community-engaged processes, we will gain greater understanding and be better equipped to support the equity, diversity and inclusion of all members of our community. We will focus our efforts on celebrating a community where our faculty and staff feel acknowledged and supported.
COMMITMENT #3: THE CAMPUS EXPERIENCE
There is an intrinsic and enduring educational value embodied in the immersive residential campus experience. Living with fellow learners and in proximity to faculty and staff is critical for the education and development of traditional-aged college students. The academic lessons learned in classrooms, labs, fieldwork, studios, and performance spaces interact with the lessons learned in residence halls, student-run organizations, athletic fields and facilities, the dining hall, and the student union. Such campus interactions are formal and informal, structured and unstructured, and each relational opportunity informs the ways that individuals come to know themselves and understand the world and people around them.
While residential campus interactions frame the core educational model at Juniata,
we also understand that some programs are, by definition, remote, and others are delivered
in blended and/or asynchronous formats. We will remain mindful that student learning
and educational engagement extend beyond our physical campus, and we will harness
technology to design and deliver online and remote opportunities with the same principles
of excellence and interactivity at their core.
Fundamentally, Juniata will deliver a campus experience that reflects a wide range of equitable, effective, and enriched opportunities that synergize learning within and beyond classrooms. These environments will foster the development of skills, knowledge, and values to prepare students for careers and fulfilling lives of service and ethical leadership in the global community.
1. Learning, growth, and development will be catalyzed by the intersection of classroom and co-curricular experiences.
Students benefit substantially when their classroom experiences resonate with co-curricular activities and engagement, such that course knowledge contributes richly to experiences that offer application and understanding. The power and impact of experiential learning is a core strength and outcome of a Juniata education, reflective of this purposeful blending.
2. Ongoing commitment to athletic programs, including recruitment and retention of talented staff, sufficient resources and suitable facilities, will result in competitive success of Juniata’s athletes and teams.
Participation in intercollegiate athletics fosters skill development, collaboration and teamwork, problem- solving, work ethic, and resilience. The time spent in practice or competition and with teammates and coaches is meaningful, results in valuable lessons, and leads to successful and fulfilling lives. Juniata’s investment in athletic programs will create competitive programs that drive engagement of student-athletes to individual self-efficacy in sport as well as degree completion.
3. Facilities will be designed, reimagined or developed that match program needs, enable exceptional outcomes, and cater to contemporary students.
Programs should drive space, and suitable environments have substantial influence over the success and well-being of individuals and initiatives that inhabit them. Juniata will explore the best spaces to support the needs of current and prospective students and fulfill program goals and outcomes.
4. We will elevate and support the holistic well-being of the Juniata community.
Along with academic growth, Juniata must prioritize the physical, psychological, interpersonal, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs of students. We must also help to prepare students to best manage encounters with change, challenge, and distress.