SBU discusses plans for university improvement

By Maggie Kiernan, Staff Writer, @maggzkay

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. (Nov. 19)- Each and every day, students “become extraordinary” at St. Bonaventure University. As 2012 comes to a close, St. Bonaventure’s first ever five-year plan is in full effect and will continue to move forward making necessary changes to stay “extraordinary.”

“Becoming Extraordinary 2015 is the university’s first ever five-year financial forecast and strategic plan,” said Emily Sinsabaugh, vice president for university relations.

Sinsabaugh said for five years, money is linked to the improvement of four strategies. These four strategies include, 1) making changes to academic and student life in numerous areas, specifically giving the students what they want, 2) increasing enrollment through marketing, 3) fundraising and 4) continuous evaluation and improvement of the compensation of faculty and staff.

Emily Sinsabaugh said, these goals ultimately aim at the continuous evaluation and improvement in a university that is going to keep St. Bonaventure competitive “in an increasingly challenging landscape.”

These specific strategies are based on data, experience and research. With that said, “when you don’t meet a goal in one area, you have to go back and shift things in order to make that goal,” said Sinsabaugh.

The idea for this strategic plan was first introduced five years ago. “In 2007, at the opening convocation, the idea of this plan was shared with the entire campus community,” said Sinsabaugh.

She added that input was welcomed and received by faculty and staff as well as students. Through open forums the senior management council, deans and academic departments shared ideas and thoughts. The senate presented it to the board of trustees committee in the 2010-2011 academic year and they accepted it.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, the finishing touches were made and the fundraising aspect of this plan was pulled together in order to begin. Currently in the second year of the plan, students will experience no more than 3% tuition increase annually.

Due to shifting demographics, the economy and online education, higher education forecasts in ten years some colleges and universities my no longer be here, said Sinsabaugh.

Sinsabaugh said Becoming Extraordinary 2015 anticipates challenges as well as being prepared to deal with those challenges. One of the limitations of this five-year plan is accepting that things are going to happen in which the university has no way of predicting and no control over.

 Sinsabaugh partly blames the economy as well as the university’s lack of online academic programs for the low enrollment in the graduate level of St. Bonaventure University.

However, new online academic programs (geared towards graduate students) are projected to be available as early as next fall.

The five-year plan also gives the university the chance to enhance athletic and academic programs, said Sinsabaugh.

In the plan’s first year, fundraising and enrollment goals relative to academic program development were not met. Discount rate goals, student quality goals and net tuition revenue generated through administration of the school’s scholarship program were also not met. However, the university’s retention goal was met.

“If we made any errors in our first year, they were errors of ambition,” Sinsabaugh said.

In this “technology intensive business” costs in tuition are going to increase, said Sinsabaugh.

“When you [students] see an increase in your tuition, know that we also are increasing giving from alumni to support your experience at St. Bonaventure and we are increasing efficiencies ensuring that we’re using our dollars as wisely as we can and dedicated to the things that we know make the most difference for you,” said Sinsabaugh.

The Career and Professional Readiness Center, considered a major priority at this institution, is an example of an investment that this plan helps.

“With more resources invested in CPRC students are given the opportunity to have the best services from the time you arrive here as a freshman until the time you leave,” Sinsabaugh said.

Becoming Extraordinary 2015 will also focus on reshaping academic programs in order to give both current and prospective students the opportunity to do what they want.

“Sinsabaugh said it is an especially important part of the plan to meet the median of peer institutions of the salaries of the faculty. It is important to keep our current faculty here as well as attract new faculty.”

Sinsabaugh said the university hopes to accomplish major priorities outlined in this plan by 2015.

“You can’t exist in this world, in the kind of organization that we are, without a roadmap and that’s what this provides for us. And as with any good map, it’s updated as conditions change,” Sinsabaugh said.

Detailed components of “Becoming Extraordinary 2015” can be found online at sbu.edu/be2015.

kiername11@bonaventure.edu

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