Grow Into Your Future: Dream. Design. Do.
The Five-Year Strategic Plan of Delaware Valley University
Endorsed by the Delaware Valley University Board of Trustees
January 25, 2019
Delaware Valley University actively engages more than 3,000 learners, including over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, in courses of study in the life, physical and environmental sciences, agriculture, education, business and the humanities; and serves an additional 1,000 continuing education students of all ages. The University traces its roots back to 1896 as a small private school dedicated to what our founder, Dr. Joseph Krauskopf, called “science with practice” – teaching and learning both in the classroom and through practical, hands-on experience.
As the University approaches its 125th year, we face one of the most challenging periods in our history. The challenges are primarily the result of externally driven demands, but not entirely. This strategic plan provides a path that leverages our strengths, addresses our challenges, embraces our opportunities, is responsive to the market, honors our historical roots, and positions us not only to survive but to thrive.
The plan was developed by a steering committee comprising a diverse group of faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, students and community members. Its strategic basis is the Blue Ocean concept, an approach that is based on extensive market exploration and involves the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost. The plan’s developmental process emphasized broad participation, and more than 175 campus community members provided input. Six task forces developed the plan’s objectives and action steps, a level of participation that positions it for wide understanding and acceptance.
The core of the plan is for the University to create differentiated value by becoming “the leader in experiential education, empowering all learners to transform the world.”
We have observed, throughout our history, that experiential education is one of the most impactful methods to help students learn and achieve their life goals.
We know that experiential education has very powerful market appeal to students, their parents and employers.
We believe that Delaware Valley University is uniquely positioned to achieve leadership in experiential education, because of our historical legacy, our size and our special expertise.
STRENGTHS, CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
The University’s legacy in experiential education adds depth and legitimacy to our programs and brand, and offers a path to our future. The perceived value of career placement is very high in the market, and the University has a strong record in that regard. Demand for the University’s nationally ranked animal-science programs is very strong. Our location within the New York – Philadelphia – Washington corridor is appealing. Our relatively small size, with a low faculty-student ratio, is a major attraction to many students. The University’s campus is beautiful, and our land assets are substantial.
External challenges are pressuring the University. The demographic changes in the Northeast are negative, with declining numbers of high school graduates anticipated for many years. Competition has become intense. High tuition and increasing student debt are contributing to a questioning of the value of higher education. Mounting government regulations continue to create unfunded mandates. The exponential rate of change in technology causes ever-growing demands on curricula and service delivery. Government support for higher education is declining. And the needs and expectations of incoming students are radically changing, demanding new approaches to help them succeed. Internal challenges center around our need to diversify our revenue streams beyond undergraduate-related functions and activities.
The rapidly changing work environment is creating expanded demand and new markets for adult continuing education. The need for specific, carefully selected graduate programs is strong, and Delaware Valley University is now positioned to tap these markets, having achieved university status in 2015. The growth of health-related jobs and careers offers many new opportunities for the University. Online and hybrid educational offerings provide great promise for all future learners.
We are inspired by the ideals of our founder, who in 1896 emphasized respect for all people and ideas, who honored knowledge with practice, progress and the common good. Our historical commitment to experiential learning integrates theory and practice and prepares undergraduate and graduate students to meet the challenges of a complex global environment and to engage in lifelong learning. We provide students with the requisite skills and a spirit of inquiry that enrich and inform their lives, prepare them to pursue meaningful careers, and fulfill societal, community and family responsibilities.
OUR SIX CORE VALUES
Respect All People
Our community serves all stakeholders with care and dignity. We are intensely focused on both the welfare and growth of each of our students, and we support their development as global citizens who achieve meaningful success in their careers and in their lives.
Value the World of Ideas and Differences
Our community recognizes the necessity of cultivating curiosity and honoring diversity. We engage with ideas that challenge us and with people different from ourselves, showing deep respect for diverse points of view and backgrounds.
As an institution dedicated to teaching and learning, we are committed to seeking excellence in all we do in academics, student life, and all support services, which leads to life-changing educational experiences. We live in a learning environment that nurtures scholarship, imagination and creativity, and embraces innovation and change, allowing each one of us and our whole community to thrive in a challenging world.
Live Each Day with Integrity
As stewards of our institution’s greater good, we are individually accountable for each of our commitments, taking the right path over the expedient one. We stand up for what is right, for ourselves, for others, and for the natural world.
Teach, Learn and Serve with Passion and Commitment
Our community creates an environment in which educating our students and serving our constituencies are responsibilities we embrace with passion and commitment.
Act as One Learning Community with One Purpose
We practice higher education as a team – we are all invested in one another’s success and intend to make a difference in the world!
Delaware Valley University will be the leader in experiential education, empowering all learners to transform the world.
WHY THIS VISION
Experiential education is our legacy, and it is our future. The mission of our founder, Dr. Joseph Krauskopf, was to improve the social and economic lives of those who came here to learn the science and practice of agriculture. Now, we empower the learners of today and tomorrow to achieve their dreams as they develop the skills and perspectives that the workplace demands, that a global society needs, and that leadership requires.
At Delaware Valley University, learning never ends. Every moment presents an opportunity for all members of our community to learn, grow, and succeed through experience.
Opportunity will become reality when all learners of today and new learners of tomorrow engage, thrive, and excel in relevant academic and educational programs that serve their needs and those of our workplaces and communities.
Opportunity will become reality when our spaces, places, and technology facilitate and support experiential education.
Opportunity will become reality when our university culture inspires the creativity to knit experiential education into the fabric of all we do and the collective passion to lead in this endeavor.
Through the advancement of experiential education, we will create value that distinguishes a Delaware Valley University education from all others.
THE STRATEGIC PLAN
The plan is organized around six priority areas, which we designate as five pillars, one foundation. Each pillar has a set of goals, objectives and key performance indicators.
Pillar 1 – Advance Student Success
For us, success is more than a retention statistic or graduation rate. Successful students are fully involved with their heads, hands and hearts in their experiences both in and beyond the classroom. Our curriculum is designed to cultivate learning outcomes aligned to career, leadership, and personal and civic success.
Student success at Delaware Valley University means that students are thriving, and thriving students are motivated to achieve beyond their academics.
We will leverage the best technology and the latest innovations to enable active learning. We will create places and spaces where all forms of experiential learning can flourish, including classrooms, the library, residence halls, the student center, athletic facilities, our living laboratories and more.
Students succeed when we focus our collective and collaborative efforts on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment that centers on:
- Preparation and learning: We will ensure that students are supported with the tools they need for academic pursuits. Our academic programs will be engaging, relevant and innovative, and promote high levels of learning.
- Connection and engagement: We will facilitate positive connections among students, faculty and staff to create a learning environment in and out of the classroom in which students feel a sense of community and relationship with diverse people.
- Health and wellness: We will promote a sense of health and well-being that contributes to student persistence and success in life. A student’s level of well-being influences his or her ability to take maximum advantage of the diverse and plentiful learning opportunities that we offer.
- Access and support: We will ensure that students can smoothly navigate campus resources, because positive experiences with offices and functions across campus contribute to success. Our communications, interactions and wayfinding methods will be seamless and let students know they are valued.
- Careers and credentials: We will concentrate on helping students achieve their career objectives and earn relevant credentials resulting in high levels of job and graduate school outcomes and satisfaction.
Goal 1.1: Ensure a focus on a student-centered philosophy for all operations and engagement throughout the institution.
Summary of Objectives: After clearly defining student, faculty and staff roles and responsibilities in advancing student success, we will implement a new student relationship management framework. A better understanding of the comprehensive student experience and a system network of teams, data and interventions will help us holistically support students’ ability to thrive in academic and campus life.
Goal 1.2: Foster all students' development of academic, social, career and leadership skills to be effective and productive members of society.
Summary of Objectives: A focus on foundational skills inside and outside the classroom will prepare students for academic life as well as post-graduate success. We will ensure student engagement in educationally enriching practices and programs as well as in overall self-discovery. Predictive analytics and data will help meet student needs and institutional outcomes.
Goal 1.3: Modernize and build facilities that promote engagement, community and learning.
Summary of Objectives: Improved and enhanced spaces, including residence halls, the Student Center and Krauskopf Library, will create student-centered accessibility, synergies and efficiencies. Planned new construction includes a residence hall and a track and field complex.
Goal 1.4: Foster an inclusive and welcoming community where students feel they belong and can learn and thrive.
Summary of Objectives: Evaluating the current campus climate will yield data that inform a training, education and awareness plan to heighten understanding of diversity and inclusion issues. We will focus on community building among students and on engagement opportunities for diversity and inclusion. Physical spaces for engagement and fellowship will support these efforts.
Key Performance Indicators:
- Freshman retention rate will increase by 5%
- Four-year graduation rate will increase to 50% or greater
- Career outcomes rate will reach the mid-90s
- Student satisfaction scores will improve annually
Pillar 2 – Engage All Learners
As we build for the future, we will expand whom we serve by offering relevant academic and educational programs for learning and enrichment across the lifespan.
We will support a culture of agility and flexibility to offer innovative programs that meet a wide range of interests and needs for those ready and eager to expand their opportunities.
Our strategy is to engage with those who will benefit from experiencing an education, not just receiving one, particularly those who:
- Seek opportunities that help them meet their personal and career goals
- Value personalized learning opportunities
- Embrace collaborative and active problem-solving
Goal 2.1: Serve the learners we have and expand the learners we serve through relevant high-quality academic and educational programs.
Summary of Objectives: We will grow net revenue through expanded and new academic programs at all levels, especially for adult learners through graduate and certificate offerings. We will partner with high schools and other institutions to broaden our student base. Professional development will increase faculty and staff understanding of all students’ needs.
Goal 2.2: Develop and implement proactive strategies that address college affordability for all students we serve.
Summary of Objectives: We will explore income-share agreements and competency-based credits to lower student debt, and increase philanthropic giving to support student scholarships. New undergraduate pricing strategies will be reviewed, and we will evaluate costs by major. Strategies to lower textbook costs will be reviewed.
Goal 2.3: Expand and diversify co-curricular educational opportunities for engagement.
Summary of Objectives: We will increase opportunities for students who are not full-time undergraduates, create new spaces to foster engagement, re-evaluate student employment to make it more beneficial to students and the University, and provide robust experiential learning opportunities in the University's existing and new programs and businesses.
Goal 2.4: Enhance the quality and delivery of instruction and support to ensure we reach all members of our diverse learning community.
Summary of Objectives: We will carefully determine student segment needs and match our capabilities to those needs. In addition, we will increase our capacity for online, hybrid and web-based teaching and learning.
Goal 2.5: Cultivate lifetime relationships with the learners we serve.
Summary of Objectives: We will increase marketing outreach to alumni of all our programs, repackage current program offerings to appeal to more learners, and increase community outreach to a more diverse population.
Key Performance Indicators:
- Number of resident students will increase by 200
- Number of graduate students will double
Pillar 3 – Experiential Education
Experiential education is more than being hands-on. It is more long-lasting than a field trip; it is more permanent than an internship; it is more comprehensive than a co-op. Experiential education creates a personalized approach that fully engages the individual for learning that lasts.
It is a teaching and learning philosophy practiced by educators who intentionally engage with learners through direct experience and focused reflection to increase knowledge, develop skills and clarify values. Experiential education is often contrasted with didactic education, in which the educator’s role is to “give” information/knowledge to students and to prescribe study/learning exercises which have “information/knowledge transmission” as the main goal.
Experiential education is personalized, because it puts the learner front and center. Through direct “hands-on” experiences, paired with focused personal reflection, learning is individually created.
It’s engaging, because experiential education involves actively applying content to real life, to real problems, and to real opportunities.
It’s lasting, because we focus on how to learn, not what to learn.
Our experiential education philosophy will be embedded throughout all formal and informal teaching environments, in the classroom and beyond.
Under this definition of experiential learning and compared to other institutions of higher education regardless of their geography, Delaware Valley University intends to become the leader in experiential education. Period. This is truly an aspirational vision, as it should be.
It is because of our small size, our admirable student to teacher/staff ratio, and our history of leadership in the field that we are positioned to provide the type of education that students need in the 21st century. It is an education focused on experience that engages students in the processes necessary to operate in a world that has charged past the tired concept of knowledge/information gatekeepers.
Goal 3.1: Infuse the experiential education philosophy broadly and deeply into the curriculum and co-curricular programs.
Summary of Objectives: After defining the University’s unique foundational principles of experiential education, we will offer professional development for faculty and staff to enhance their ability to provide such educational opportunities. We will embed the principles and outcomes of experiential education within curricular, extracurricular and co-curricular programming so that every student is immersed throughout their time at the University.
Goal 3.2: Create a center for excellence in teaching and learning with a focus on experiential education.
Summary of Objectives: We will articulate goals and outcomes for the center that are based on national best practices, then develop, staff, resource, market and brand it as a campus focal point for experiential learning.
Goal 3.3: Communicate and showcase our expertise in experiential education.
Summary of Objectives: We will showcase the experiential education outcomes of students, faculty and staff, as well as welcome visitors to campus for workshops and conferences on the topic.
Key Performance Indicators:
- Scores relating to the student view of experiential education will improve annually
- The number of articles and/or presentations by faculty and staff on experiential education will increase annually
Pillar 4 – Enhance Faculty and Staff Excellence
To realize our vision, we will champion the creative talents and energies of our faculty and staff. By fostering a culture of continuous learning, professional development, diversity and inclusion, we will create and promote an environment of creativity, agility and flexibility to ensure University growth and success.
To fully facilitate faculty and staff excellence, we will employ and leverage the best technology and the latest innovations, creating an engaging environment that stimulates and provides life-long learning.
Likewise, we will build and modernize facilities to encourage collaboration and innovation to achieve our aspirations.
Goal 4.1: Establish a University-wide professional development plan and system for all faculty and staff that accommodates both institutional and individual employee needs.
Summary of Objectives: We will link professional development to strategic initiatives, establishing an institutional program for all employees that leverages internal as well as external resources. This program will be informed and supported by the review and evaluation processes.
Goal 4.2: Ensure talent management systems and processes are in place to maximize all employees' contribution to the institution, and achievement of their individual professional goals.
Summary of Objectives: We will develop an enhanced, comprehensive employee evaluation program, evaluate new, comprehensive compensation systems, and re-examine organizational structures to encourage agility and responsiveness.
Goal 4.3: Design facilities and utilize technology to empower employees to function collaboratively, efficiently and effectively.
Summary of Objectives: We will use technology to continue process automation, improve collaboration and increase effectiveness, and establish new spaces for work sharing, training and social engagement.
Key Performance Indicators:
- The number of professional development opportunities offered by the University will increase annually
- The number of faculty and staff participating in a professional development experience will increase each year
- The number of annual grant awards received and/or contracts signed will double
- Survey scores relating to the student view of faculty and staff will improve annually
Pillar 5 – Expand Community and Industry Partnerships
A great university cannot be created alone. Delaware Valley University will build partnerships and collaborations with the community, businesses and industry to strengthen our operations, open new markets and expand opportunities for our students.
With faculty leadership and through partnerships with business and industry, we will design programs that fulfill needs for learning and enrichment.
Goal 5.1: Centralize the identification, development, expansion and coordination of external relationships.
Summary of Objectives: We will create a new position to oversee external partnerships and relationships, assign a development coordinator to each school, and implement technological solutions to assist in the relationship management of key external relationships.
Goal 5.2: Expand our partnership and community network to provide learners with abundant experiential education opportunities.
Summary of Objectives: We will encourage faculty members to work with external parties in the creation of experiential learning opportunities for students, welcome industry experts to campus for classes and seminars, develop industry-specific experiential learning in-service days, and help students to develop their own opportunities.
Goal 5.3: Create opportunities and cultivate partnerships to grow revenues and resources.
Summary of Objectives: New parties and structures within and outside the University will link individual academic units with industry advisers, increasing opportunities for new revenues and experiential learning options for students. Welcoming external events and gatherings to campus, developing new philanthropic strategies, and boosting efforts to secure grant funding also hold the potential for revenue diversification.
Goal 5.4: Become an acknowledged resource for external audiences.
Summary of Objectives: Reputation-enhancing activities, such as a speakers bureau, an economic impact report, a high-level lecture series and presidential thought leadership, will help raise awareness of the University and its expertise. The existing Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center and a new Center for Public Issues Education can help better position the University with the general public. A new strategic, integrated marketing plan will allow the University to engage all target audiences in ways that raise reputation, awareness and revenue.
Key Performance Indicators:
- Total dollar amount of annual external funding will grow each year
- Document the importance and impact of the University to the local, regional and state economy through an economic impact study
Foundation - Dynamic and Inclusive Culture: Living Our Core Values
A community that thrives together innovates together. We aspire to create an inclusive workplace culture characterized by high levels of collaboration, trust and mutual respect. Culture is the force that binds an organization’s members together.
We will create the conditions that facilitate people working together to create excellent results for what we care most about -- those who come here to learn.
Through shared work, shared learning, shared accountability and shared conversation about what matters most, and by living our core values, we will foster a culture that attracts and retains people passionate about fulfilling our mission.
The future of higher education and the future of Delaware Valley University require a commitment to “we” – defining and committing to what we can do to come together as one learning community with one purpose.
Goal 6.1: Recruit, hire and retain a talented and diverse workforce.
Summary of Objectives: A focus on diversity and best practices in hiring will result in a better-rounded and inclusive workforce. Clear career paths, abundant professional development opportunities and a link between employment and mission will make DelVal an attractive employer.
Goal 6.2: Foster an inclusive and welcoming community where employees feel they belong and can thrive.
Summary of Objectives: Emphasizing diversity and inclusion, safety and stewardship of resources will help position the University as an employer of choice.
Goal 6.3: Create an environment characterized by teamwork and high performance unified in fulfilling the University's vision.
Summary of Objectives: We will emphasize a high standard of professionalism, strong faculty-staff relations, improved communication and a focus on continuous assessment and improvement.
Key Performance Indicators:
- Employee satisfaction scores will improve each year
- The number of applications and new hires from underrepresented groups will increase by 5% per year