Our Strategic Work
Approximately 200 faculty, staff, and students participate in this work by serving on the 22 working groups associated with the four design themes. This broad participation means that one-third of all employees have been involved and have knowledge of the strategic planning process, giving them an advantage in assimilating and understanding our path to our shared future. Read the article about our work in the College publication Triangle.
But…The Plan? Where is it?
Strategic planning exercises often begin and end with a fanfare and an intensity that feels like the crescendo in a musical passage. Moreover, strategic planning often comes with a defined end, typically an attractive four-color publication that symbolically signals that the institution’s destination has been reached. Eureka!
That publication often becomes shelfware. Valuable institutional momentum is lost. The community-building, conversation, and collaboration that led to the plan falls off. Maybe the campus returns to “business as usual.” Maybe it languishes in “implementation” mode. The wheels spin.
The Springfield College leaders and community members wanted a different experience—one that developed big ideas, affirmed and confirmed our mission, while also prioritizing action. We are an institution in perpetual motion. Our planning goal was to keep our institutional momentum and motion while engaging in meaningful conversations about the future.
So, you won’t find a four-color glossy copy of our plan on our website. We don’t even call it a plan. Instead, planning and implementation happen concurrently and are focused on strategic action based on sound decisions.
Planning conversations resulted in a commitment to advance the College in four broad areas, called design themes, broadly focused on student engagement and ensuring the long-term viability of the College as a destination for quality education provided with a commitment to leadership and service.
The 21-member President's Cabinet provides leadership to the strategic planning process and stewards the development of plans for the 22 working groups. Members of the cabinet are champions and ambassadors for the plan while serving as College-wide leaders of the planning process, working closely with the president to monitor the implementation of completed plans.
Members of the Cabinet
- Gary Blanchette, vice president for institutional advancement
- Patrick Love, vice president for student affairs
- Calvin Hill, vice president for inclusion and community engagement
- Stuart Jones, vice president for enrollment management
- John Mailhot, vice president for finance and administration
- Kathy Martin, executive director of the capital campaign and campus strategy
- Chris Neronha, vice president and general counsel
- Craig Poisson, executive director for athletics
- Martha Potvin, provost and vice president for academic affairs
- Steve Roulier, vice president for communications and external affairs
- John Eisler, dean, School of Professional and Continuing Studies
- Brooke Hallowell, dean, School of Health Sciences and Rehabilitation
- Anne Herzog, dean, School of Arts, Sciences, and Professional Studies
- Tracey Matthews, dean, School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation
- Fran Vecchiolla, dean, School of Social Work
- Mary Ann Coughlin, associate vice president for academic affairs
- James Harnsberger, associate vice president for graduate education
- Raldy Laguilles, director of institutional research
- Julie Tyson, senior associate vice president and director of development
- Jane Vottero, director of executive communications
The ACT/SAT Working Group explored and made recommendations about the advantages, disadvantages, and alternatives of a test-optional policy. The role of standardized testing in higher education has been highly contested throughout history due to its perceived bias, which prompted a number of schools to implement test-optional policies. For Springfield College, though there is little evidence at our institution to suggest that ACT/SAT scores alone significantly affect admissions decisions.
While students with lower test scores are admitted, the juxtaposition of an applicant’s score, GPA, and financial aid package varied. Understanding that not all students test well, the Springfield College Office of Admissions openly encourages prospective students with low test scores to discuss their concerns. In the short term, this additional touch point allows the admissions staff to have a more holistic understanding of the student; however, the working group continues to investigate options and will make a recommendation to the president in 2019.
Comprehensive Program Review
After a review of all academic programs, this group released its preliminary recommendations to the faculty and outlined a process for programs to get feedback from the working group and a subsequent appeal process to members of the Faculty Senate. The working group met with the leadership of six programs and received some comments electronically. As a result of those meetings, the working group either reversed, modified, or let stand those recommendations. I am pleased to report that there were no appeals to the Faculty Senate. That aspect of the working group charge is complete.
A second part of this working group charge was to look at the organizational structure of our schools and the academic programs within them for efficiency and effectiveness. Focus groups were conducted to gather feedback from faculty which contributed significantly to the working group’s efforts to address duplication and imbalance in the current structure. One or more models will be shared for input in fall 2018. Once a model is determined, an implementation plan will be developed and presented for approval by the president and the Board of Trustees.
Engaged Learning and High Impact Educational Practices
This Engaged Learning and High Impact Educational Practices Working Group seeks to intentionally integrate and increase participation in engaged learning and high-impact educational practices by identifying such opportunities and practices at Springfield College; determining how to track participation in these experiences; analyzing participation by various demographic groups, and identifying populations to target for participation in these opportunities going forward; and identifying gaps in current offerings for use in the development of future programs. The working group is being re-energized in fall 2018.
Expand Academic Portfolio
The New Programs Working Group (NPWG) has forwarded a report to the Provost for consideration, which includes suggestions for new academic programs that would strategically expand offerings in mission-centric ways. The list was derived from the working group's efforts to gather feedback from the Springfield College faculty, as well as intelligence provided by an external consultant specializing in forecasting for higher education. The proposed programs represent new directions for Springfield College with strong outlooks for enrollment and occupational outlook. Programs approved for further study will be fully investigated for feasibility for Springfield College.
Financial Aid and Affordability
Progress on several customer service initiatives has resulted in positive change in the way students and others do business at Springfield College. In addition, plans are being finalized for an internal loan program to replace the now defunct Federal Perkins Loan Program and continue to make Springfield College an affordable option for families. Other options to reduce or maintain costs of attendance are being explored, with updates expected in fall 2018.
General Education Review
Over the last two years, the General Education Review Working Group has surveyed campus constituencies multiple times and has read and digested best practices in general education from around the country. The goal is to propose a new general education model that is well-suited pedagogically and developmentally in preparing Springfield College graduates and is aligned with our distinctive mission, fulfills the requirements of our accreditors, and has assessment of appropriate student learning outcomes built into its design.
Four test models were advanced, each includes a new First-year Seminar and 10 core learning outcomes. In response to requests for more details, a group of faculty volunteers created in summer 2018 a more detailed draft syllabus for a model first-year seminar course. In addition, specific and measurable student learning outcomes for each of the core learning outcomes are being developed.
The working group plans to bring a proposal forward to faculty, staff, and students in October 2018 that articulates a compelling vision for what we want all of our students to learn and how to do so in a way that is aligned with our Humanics mission, is developmental, is relevant, and prepares students for the increasingly complex world of work and living. A new model would need to be approved by the Faculty Senate, the president, and ultimately the Board of Trustees. Following all approvals, a rollout beginning with the first-year class in fall 2020 is expected. A pilot First-year Seminar may be possible as early as spring 2019.
Campus Master Plan
With assistance from Centerbrook Architects and Planners, identify needs and priorities for the campus to guide decision-making and resource allocation for the next 20 years.
Staff Compensation Project
With assistance from Sibson Consulting, evaluate the College’s compensation program to ensure that it is fair and competitive and positively contributes to the ability of the College to attract and retain staff. The College seeks a program that is easily understood, balances both cash compensation and benefits, is updated regularly and is financially responsible.
Enterprise Risk Management
Enterprise risk management is an iterative process to identify institutional risks and articulate a plan for mitigation of those risks. Risks exist in every organization and at every level of an organization, and it is in the institution’s short- and long-term interest to identify, track and manage risk to preserve the College resources and competitiveness.
Internationalizing the Campus
Establish mission-relevant, goal-directed strategies to increase an international presence that will serve the College now and in the future.
Expanding the Pride Paw Print
Springfield College has enjoyed success in recruiting students from a known and well-established geographic area; however, with the projected decline in the number of high school graduates through 2022, College officials must explore new geographic markets in order to increase the pipeline of prospective students. A thoughtful, intentional, strategic and analytical approach will be taken to determine new geographical markets to target and to explore the enrollment sensitivity of those areas, understanding that additional incentives may be needed to encourage application to Springfield College.
Academic Support Programs and Services
The Academic Support Programs and Services Working Group was tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of all types of academic support available to all Springfield College students. Moving forward, the College academic support services provided by staff and faculty must empower students to achieve academic excellence and prove effective in achieving future goals of academic success.
The group found that expanding flexibility of services will benefit students, as it will allow Springfield College to meet the unique needs of each student. With careful planning and collaboration, our academic support programs help students in new ways and ensure that we are living up to our Humanics philosophy: To support our students, holistically, in "spirit, mind and body," so that all of our students know they are part of our community and feel that their needs are provided for and anticipated.
The group recommends that a task force is established to explore the integration of student support services between the Academic Success Center and School of Professional and Continuing Studies student support services, as well as to examine the integration of Learning Support Services across all departments and schools at Springfield College.
Possibilities for enhancing the Springfield College Living/Learning Community were identified through enrollment management data, program/topic of interest to students, and faculty involvement. The working group collaborated with Residence Life staff to develop and implement two Living/Learning Community groups for our first-year students in fall 2017. The Entrepreneurship Living/Learning Community (open to all majors), and the Life and Health Sciences Living/Learning Community (focusing on biology, sports biology, pre-physician assistant, and pre-physical therapy majors) are housed in Massasoit Hall. Housing and Residence Life and Facilities Management staff partnered to reconfigure space to afford a flexible classroom/academic meeting area and to provide a shared office space for faculty advisors for better integration and accessibility.
A Living/Learning Advisory Board has been formed and is drafting a recommended process for review of the pilot communities and a process for expansion.
Employee Training Systems
The Employee Training Systems Working Group developed and implemented new employee training systems to enhance the onboarding and ongoing development of staff employees. Following a review of the College performance management system, suggestions for improvement in employee technical and soft skills were made to align with the College mission and strategic objectives.
A new staff employee orientation program, a peer mentor program, and a new employee checklist for managers were developed and launched in 2017-18. Concurrently, the working group identified a dedicated training resource, a college-wide training system that all new employees would undergo within their first six months of employment, and a stand-alone training for new managers.
In fall 2018, an updated Employee Handbook was released to all non-faculty staff and made available via the PrideNET portal.
Technology Needs Assessment
Information technology plays a crucial role in supporting the diverse aspects of Springfield College operations, while functioning in a complex and ever-changing environment. The College will continue to be transparent and inclusive with its technology model to promote the effective use and management of informational technology in support of the College mission, strategic goals, and priorities.
One priority is to strengthen and build appropriate bridges between technology systems and to explore future technology needs that will distinguish Springfield College as a leading technology innovator and visionary The Administrative Computing Advisory Council was established to improve the user experience and promote efficiency. An Information Technology Governance Committee, chaired by the provost, will be convened to focus on academic information technology initiatives. The committee will provide support, recommendations, and structure in assessing the College information technology needs on an ongoing basis, including those related to the learning management system and online learning.
Admissions Process and Procedures
The Admissions Processes and Procedures Working Group studied all admissions processes in traditional and non-traditional programs for undergraduate and graduate prospective students starting with the point of prospective student inquiry and through final enrollment. The objective was to determine what, if any, processes could be streamlined or simplified to be more enrollment-friendly for prospective students. Additional evaluation included successful solicitation of prospective student experiences and admissions personnel experiences and insights.
Key recommendations include:
- Creating or purchasing an integrated, web-based enrollment management process solution that streamlines and simplifies enrollment processes for prospective students, and
- Requiring implementation processes for offices, including integration with web-based processes, to re-evaluate steps or forms in terms of necessity and/or repetitiveness.
Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement
The Springfield College Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement opened in the fall of 2017 and provides a physical space for members of the community, particularly the Upper Hill and Old Hill neighborhoods, to engage with Springfield College students, faculty and staff on initiatives related to education and health and wellness. The center links issues that Springfield College students care about with what they believe they can change, providing a platform to develop students as leaders in service to humanity.
Based on extensive feedback from both the College and local communities, several programs and services were planned for the first pilot year (2017-18) and are already making a positive impact in the community.
Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship
The Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship opened in the Harold C. Smith Learning Commons at the start of the fall 2017 semester, with workshops and consultations offered throughout the academic year. The center strives to foster intellectual engagement across the curriculum through evidence-based programs and services that increase collaboration, communication, and community to promote the enhancement of student learning.
Chris Hakala, PhD, was named director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship in March 2018. The newly created academic affairs position was developed through the College strategic planning process.
The Diversity Plan Working Group was charged with developing procedures and policies that will allow all community members, regardless of difference, to flourish on campus. The resulting inclusion plan for Springfield College, Embracing the Promise of Tomorrow: 2017-2022, is available here.
Identifying key constituencies and organizational systems for peer-to-peer fundraising is essential as part of our strategic planning process. Participation at nonprofits across the country has been on the decline for two decades. As such, the focus of the College leadership is to increase participation, especially with two important constituencies: young alumni, faculty, and staff. An aggressive strategy was implemented that will more than double the number of young alumni donors by the year 2020.
This strategy includes a revised communications plan with an emphasis on reinforcing the value of the Springfield College degree, a recommendation to invest in a formal social media training program for volunteers, the development of a diverse menu of small projects that can be supported through “crowdsourcing,” creation of tactics designed to further engage young alumni in the life of Springfield College after graduation, and through an employee campaign committee, building a formalized employee campaign with broader giving options.
Because Springfield College is committed to providing an affordable post-secondary education that is relevant and responsive to the labor market and community needs, our strategy must include the development and exploration of partnerships that will advance the College mission of leadership in service to others. The College leadership has already identified and established meaningful strategic partnerships that are mutually beneficial for both parties, with national and regional organizations that hold similar mission along with high professional standards.
A database of key college partnerships was created and is housed in Academic Affairs and with the plan to form a Strategic Partnership Advisory Group. The group is charged with identifying prospective strategic partners, developing strategies designed to move a current relationship to strategic partnership status, and evaluating current strategic partners. To be considered a strategic partner with Springfield College, the relationship must enhance brand awareness and academic reputation, increase opportunities for student engagement, and result in increased revenue for Springfield College.
Website Development/Messaging Consistency
A priority of the College is to promote academic excellence through its quality programs, engaged and innovative faculty, and collaborative learning environment. To effectively enhance and protect the Springfield College reputation as an international leader in higher education, to advance and strengthen its brand, and to encourage community engagement, the College, through its Office of Communications, supports the continuous discovery and implementation of new and effective communication and research tools to define key messaging and to engage and motivate internal and external audiences.
The development and execution of integrated marketing and communications programs and research tools that help achieve the College overall target enrollment for a diverse, high-quality student body and student success are ongoing. An emphasis on our mission since 1885 is a top priority in all communications. Continuous development of a highly creative, innovative, and accurate website that supports and assures execution of the College strategic communications goals, and one that allows for continuous feedback, is the focus of a Web Development Strategic Plan and Messaging Consistency Strategic Plan that are operational. Both emphasize the user experience while assuring a competitive stance in the market will be prioritized through the evaluation, maintenance, and measurement of a high standard of performance.
Beginning in fall 2018, College officials launched planning for its New England Commission of Higher Education self-study and 2020 site visit. A timely extension of planning efforts, the development of the institutional self-study provides a critical opportunity to move initiatives forward while evaluating the effectiveness of our planning efforts, using metrics to guide that assessment.