- Goal 1
- Goal 2
- Goal 3
- Goal 4
- Goal 5
- Goal 6
It was 1830 when Lucy Ann Wales made her way—alone—from her home in Weymouth, Massachusetts, to what was then the tiny frontier town of Columbia, Missouri. Lucy Ann came originally to teach the children of some of Columbia's most privileged residents, but in 1833 she was hired to be the first headmistress of the Columbia Female Academy – the original name of what would become Stephens College.
Over the 177 years since Lucy Ann Wales first stood before a classroom of eager young women, Stephens College has evolved into an institution unlike any other in higher education. Innovative, intellectually engaged and committed to the intentional synthesis of theoretical and experiential learning, Stephens remains inspired by its unwavering dedication to the intellectual, creative, spiritual and liberal education of women.
It is a legacy and a commitment forged across generations of grandmothers, mothers and daughters, continuously shaped by and responsive to the changing social and cultural requirements of its time. From a Christian academy in the 1830s to a nationally renowned two-year college a century later, from a baccalaureate institution in the 1960s to an institution with undergraduate and graduate degree programs – on campus and online – today, Stephens has continued to expand, diversify and remain relevant to its community, generation after generation.
In 2004, that community rallied to the call of its new president, Dr. Wendy Libby; together, they forged a strategic vision of Stephens’ future, articulated in a clear and effective blueprint for the College’s continued operation and gradual growth. The “Renaissance Plan” served as a benchmark and a roadmap to guide the College’s initiatives around enrollment, facilities, fundraising and curricular development. Today, nearly six years later, the Stephens campus is a thriving testament to the success of that plan: its enrollments have nearly tripled; newly renovated administrative and residential buildings contribute to a campus as historic as it is welcoming; and a combination of administrative efficiency, increased enrollment and fundraising effectiveness have restored Stephens to solid financial footing.
It is within that context that the Stephens community began in the late fall of 2009 to once again re-examine its programs and priorities, and to revisit the goals and expectations articulated in its 2004 Renaissance Plan. In many ways, its core commitments have remained constant: gradual growth, financial stability, educational excellence, and a commitment to preparing career-ready women of distinction. But much also has changed since 2004, when the College’s future seemed less than certain, and its primary concerns – and responsibilities – centered on ensuring its continued operation. Today, Stephens looks to the future with optimism and enthusiasm, confident about its unique and valuable place in the landscape of American higher education.
Shortly after her arrival in June 2009, President Dianne Lynch established a structure for the strategic planning process that included five cross-functional and inclusive “working groups”: Teaching and Learning for the 21st Century; Students First; Doing Business; Culture and Climate; and Innovations and Opportunities. Each group was co-chaired by a member of the College’s Senior Staff and a faculty or staff member; the groups met regularly throughout the spring semester to develop their ideas and understandings, and then each group held a number of public meetings to solicit input and ideas from across the community. A Steering Committee that included the co-chairs, as well as three members of the Board of Trustees, met several times in the spring to consider the College’s mission and to discuss issues and ideas as they emerged. At each of its spring meetings, the Board also participated in brainstorming sessions designed to solicit its members’ insights and input. In late April, President Lynch presented to the entire campus community a summary of the conclusions and priorities that had emerged through the process.
In response to a recommendation that arose across the working groups, the Steering Committee considered the priorities and commitments expressed in the College’s mission statement, adopted in 2004:
Historically committed to meeting the changing needs of women, Stephens College engages students in an innovative educational experience focused on pre-professional fields and the performing arts and grounded in the liberal arts. Graduates of Stephens are career-ready women of distinction, connected through a supportive network of alumnae across the world, confident in themselves, and inspired by our tradition of the Ten Ideals as core values that enrich women’s lives.
Our new mission statement includes a more explicit articulation of the College’s commitments to leadership and innovation; global engagement; and lifelong learning:
Historically committed to meeting the changing needs of women, Stephens College prepares students to become leaders and innovators in a rapidly changing world. Stephens engages lifelong learners in an educational experience characterized by intellectual rigor, creative expression and professional practice, in an environment supported by accomplished faculty and dedicated alumnae. Graduates of Stephens are educated in the liberal arts, professionally prepared and inspired by our tradition of the Ten Ideals as core values that enrich women’s lives.
In addition to their common ideas regarding the College’s mission statement, the working groups consistently proposed specific improvements in college processes or facilities that would enhance and make feasible the goals emerging from the planning process. Those improvements and recommendations included:
- An entrepreneurial, flexible and efficient organizational environment that fosters new partnerships and produces new revenue streams
- Improved communication across the organization
- The creation of public/social spaces on campus;
- A customer-service orientation
- Effective management of the balance between our esteemed history and our evolution into a 21st-century learning-and-teaching organization.
What follows here is a plan that captures all of those common themes, as well as the ideas, advice and recommendations of hundreds of our community members – students, staff, families, faculty, alumnae and trustees. Together, the Stephens community has envisioned a bright and exciting future, a horizon toward which we will travel together with energy, enthusiasm, determination, and commitment.
Goal 1: Achieve optimum enrollments.
Objective 1.1: Strategically increase new UGR (first-year undergraduate residential) student enrollments to a maximum of 375 annually by 2015.
Strategy 1.1.1: Achieve national rankings and public recognition of the quality and distinctiveness of our academic programs.
Strategy 1.1.2: Offer programs and curricula that are appropriate to Stephens’ mission and core strengths and that are marketable and cost-effective.
Strategy 1.1.3: Employ financial aid strategies that result in increased yield while managing the discount rate to meet annual targets.
Strategy 1.1.4: Create an effective marketing campaign and recruitment strategy that produces measurable improvements in response rates (inquiry, application, deposit).
Strategy 1.1.5: Refine and fund our recruiting and scholarship programs to yield increased numbers of scholar-athletes.
Strategy 1.1.6: Develop an educational training program to engage current students, faculty, staff, alumnae and board members in recruitment efforts.
Strategy 1.1.7: Coordinate Philanthropy and Admissions target regions to better utilize travel, volunteer and personnel resources.
Strategy 1.1.8: Identify, develop and implement new partnerships that give visibility to and increase interest and enrollments in Stephens’ unique academic programs.
Strategy 1.1.9: Explore new market segments likely to benefit from Stephens’ emphases on individualized attention, creative expression, and experiential learning.
Objective 1.2: Increase Graduate and Continuing Studies (GCS) enrollments to meet program and annual revenue goals.
Strategy 1.2.1: Develop a compelling and comprehensive virtual presence for the College that enhances its visibility and expands its reach.
Strategy 1.2.2: Research and implement non-credit professional programs and events, and online professional certificate programs in partnership with professional associations.
Strategy 1.2.3: Identify, develop and implement new graduate programs appropriate to Stephens’ mission and core strengths.
Strategy 1.2.4: Refine and improve GCS graduate programs to make them the programs of choice for women.
Strategy 1.2.5: Partner with Philanthropy and Admissions to reach multiple markets to benefit all aspects of the College.
Objective 1.3: Improve the academic profile and institutional fit of our accepted students.
Strategy 1.3.1: Continue the development and execution of a rigorous assessment program to produce and track continuous improvement across degree programs.
Strategy 1.3.2: Set annual goals to improve the academic profile and institutional fit of new students.
Strategy 1.3.3: Increase selectivity in academic programs that have reached optimum capacity.
Strategy 1.3.4: Develop marketing and recruitment practices targeted at prospective students, parents and guidance counselors that successfully recruit students.
Objective 1.4: Achieve strategic enrollment distribution across programs.
Strategy 1.4.1: Develop and use data to inform our decisions about program, investment, planning and assessment.
Strategy 1.4.2: Use target marketing, competition and scholarships to promote and grow targeted academic programs.
Objective 1.5: Improve UGR graduation and annual retention rates to exceed 75 percent by 2015.
Strategy 1.5.1: Establish a President’s Task Force on Retention to identify and help execute strategies for attracting, supporting and retaining students.
Strategy 1.5.2: Actively seek grant funding to support the collection of accurate, current retention data and the execution of a student-engagement program to improve retention.
Strategy 1.5.3: Diversify course-delivery methods and platforms to better serve students’ needs.
Strategy 1.5.4: Expand academic support services available through the Student Success Center to better support students with learning differences and academic challenges.
Strategy 1.5.5: Explore the possibility of creating a Student Success Center to serve as a one-stop shop for student support services.
Strategy 1.5.6: Restructure student orientation programs, including the Stephens Success course, to better address student needs.
Strategy 1.5.7: Provide all students with consistent, focused and supportive academic advising.
Strategy 1.5.8: Create a comprehensive program for monitoring all at-risk students, including pre-enrollment assessments to identify potential challenges, and a system of student support services and monitoring during the probationary period.
Goal 2: Attract, develop and retain an excellent faculty and staff.
Objective 2.1: Enhance faculty and staff recruitment strategies and the quality and fit in hiring decisions.
Strategy 2.1.1: Establish a consistent hiring process that produces strong hiring pools.
Strategy 2.1.2: Establish a comprehensive employee orientation program.
Strategy 2.1.3: Establish a consistent process for collecting data around employee departures from the institution, as a means of understanding how to improve employment policies and practices.
Strategy 2.1.4: Increase the number of full-time and tenure-track faculty positions to reflect ratios at peer and aspirant institutions.
Objective 2.2: Create a culture that promotes, recognizes and rewards professional excellence.
Strategy 2.2.1: Create a rewards system for staff and faculty that motivates and recognizes employees for excellent work performance and service.
Objective 2.3: Establish and implement a competitive compensation and benefits program for all employees.
Strategy 2.3.1: Work with the Staff Advisory Council and the Faculty Personnel Committee to develop a plan for identifying and addressing workload imbalances.
Strategy 2.3.2: Benchmark faculty and staff salaries, and adopt a salary plan.
Strategy 2.3.3: Make the restoration of pension contributions an annual budget priority.
Strategy 2.3.4: Research and implement a health care benefits plan that maximizes employee coverage while managing institutional and employee costs.
Strategy 2.3.5: Research and implement programs and structures (e.g. on- campus daycare, flex time, leave policies) that support an employee’s work-life balance.
Objective 2.4: Establish new professional training, leadership development and health and wellness programs.
Strategy 2.4.1: Support faculty and staff discipline-specific professional development opportunities.
Strategy 2.4.2: Provide incentives and opportunities for employees to increase their participation in health and wellness activities.
Objective 2.5: Build community and establish a culture of transparency and trust through collaboration among employees; consistent and clear employee policies; and transparent communication practices.
Strategy 2.5.1: Establish workload and advancement policies and practices, including those pertaining to leave and compensation, that are fair, transparent, clearly communicated and are consistent with national standards of best practice.
Strategy 2.5.2: Ensure that the College’s personnel policies are consistent, clear and well communicated.
Strategy 2.5.3: Create a coordinated process that allow campus groups to share information and provide input across offices and programs.
Strategy 2.5.4: Develop a relevant, effective evaluation process that provides clear feedback and enhances supervisor-employee communication throughout the year.
Strategy 2.5.5: Create business and social opportunities, spaces and events that support and nurture collegiality and camaraderie to enhance understanding and cooperation among offices and departments.
Goal 3: Through curricular and co-curricular programs and initiatives, prepare students to become innovative, ethical leaders and engaged citizens in a rapidly changing global society.
Objective 3.1: Prepare students to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
Strategy 3.1.1: Continue to support and invest in Stephens’ tradition of an innovative, contemporary, relevant and substantive liberal arts education.
Strategy 3.1.2: Adopt and maintain the highest standards of academic quality,pedagogical innovation and student performance in all programs.
Strategy 3.1.3: Increase student participation in active, inquiry-based and collaborative learning.
Strategy 3.1.4: Adopt and execute an energetic and inclusive assessment program that provides adequate and timely data to support continuous improvement.
Strategy 3.1.5: Develop and provide interdisciplinary, mentoring, internship and travel opportunities for all students.
Strategy 3.1.6: Create and staff a service learning office to support community volunteerism and to encourage and reward students who make significant community contributions.
Objective 3.2: Increase the internationalization of our campus.
Strategy 3.2.1: Actively seek funding to support the expansion of the office of study abroad on campus to include international recruiting and support of international students and events.
Strategy 3.2.2: Develop a task force consisting of staff from key offices to recruit, admit and serve international students.
Strategy 3.2.3: Select and target specific countries and institutions and develop marketing messages and partnerships to attract international students.
Strategy 3.2.4: Develop “virtual campus” programs that would bring international students to campus for limited periods.
Strategy 3.2.5: Achieve a study abroad and/or travel-program rate of 20 percent for residential students by 2015.
Strategy 3.2.6: Enhance global components of core and program curricula, and of student activities.
Objective 3.3: Increase community awareness of and commitment to environmental responsibility.
Strategy 3.3.1: Develop a sustainability campaign to encourage community members to reduce the College’s environmental footprint.
Strategy 3.3.2: Increase visibility of environmental initiatives and sustainability on campus.
Goal 4: Create a vibrant campus environment for teaching and learning.
Objective 4.1: Expand and enhance our academic facilities.
Strategy 4.1.1: Create a five-year Master Plan for facilities upgrades, maintenance and new capital construction that integrate with student enrollment and staffing plans.
Strategy 4.1.2: Reconfigure the library as an intellectual and academic hub of the campus through facilities renovation and program innovation.
Objective 4.2: Lead and participate nationally in conversations about teaching and learning, and women’s education and leadership.
Strategy 4.2.1: Seek funding for faculty to develop projects in the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Strategy 4.2.2: Seek funding for faculty to develop research projects on women’s leadership, especially related to women’s education.
Strategy 4.2.3: Explore the revitalization of a women’s studies curriculum across disciplines at Stephens College.
Strategy 4.2.4: Maintain active participation in the Women’s College Coalition.
Strategy 4.2.5: Actively seek funding to support curriculum and professional programming focused on women’s education and/or issues.
Objective 4.3: Maintain and enhance a reliable, effective technology infrastructure.
Strategy 4.3.1: Seek funding for and implement technology enhancements across campus.
Strategy 4.3.2: Study state-of-the-art classroom configurations and online technology uses; develop pilot projects such as personal response systems, lecture capture and content management tools.
Strategy 4.3.3: Explore and adopt as appropriate new and enhanced course- scheduling and course-delivery options.
Strategy 4.3.4: Create an information technology plan that maps a multi-year strategy for technology infrastructure, acquisition, access and support.
Goal 5: Create and support a student-centered campus culture.
Objective 5.1: Promote diversity and inclusion, with a special emphasis on the role, challenges, contributions and leadership of women.
Strategy 5.1.1: Establish an ad hoc diversity committee of students, faculty and staff.
Strategy 5.1.2: Celebrate diversity through campus events, special activities and curricular offerings.
Objective 5.2: Increase student awareness of and involvement in women’s health and wellness practices.
Strategy 5.2.1: Provide and promote healthy eating options on campus.
Strategy 5.2.2: Expand counseling services for students in concert with the graduate program in counseling.
Strategy 5.2.3: Create partnership/sponsorships with various organizations and help engage students in health and wellness programs.
Objective 5.3: Ensure student safety and security.
Strategy 5.3.1: Conduct a safety audit of the campus to identify areas where we can improve the health and safety of our community.
Strategy 5.3.2: Enhance and confirm disaster and crisis readiness capabilities through planning, training and practice drills.
Strategy 5.3.3: Increase community safety by educating students in the practice of good safety habits.
Objective 5.4: Increase student participation in and support for our athletic programs.
Strategy 5.4.1: Invest in staffing, program development and facilities.
Strategy 5.4.2: Develop marketing strategies to promote our athletic programs on campus and in our community.
Strategy 5.4.3: Assess current athletic programs and identify new opportunities to increase participation.
Strategy 5.4.4: Establish a student organization to coordinate a new intramural sports and exercise program.
Goal 6: Increase and steward the resources of the College to support, sustain and energize its mission.
Objective 6.1: Diversify the College’s revenue streams in ways consistent with our core mission.
Strategy 6.1.1: Establish an Office of Innovation and New Initiatives to identify new opportunities, partnerships and revenue streams for the College.
Strategy 6.1.2: Improve business performance of auxiliary services and create efficiencies in our purchasing practices.
Objective 6.2: Successfully execute the Stephens Fund with a minimum of five per cent annual growth as our target.
Strategy 6.2.1: Increase the number of donors to meet annual targets.
Strategy 6.2.2: Achieve and maintain an annual donor retention rate that matches or exceeds the average for our peer and aspirant schools.
Strategy 6.2.3: Achieve and maintain 100 percent annual giving participation among the Board of trustees, Alumnae Association Board, and the steering committee of the Former Alumnae Association Board.
Strategy 6.2.4: Promote a culture of philanthropy among students with 100 percent participation in giving from the senior class each year.
Strategy 6.2.5: Maintain the donor database so that it meets the requirements to be a successful tool of the Philanthropy office.
Strategy 6.2.6: Develop an active, strategic and effective fundraising model that expands the potential donor base to include families, younger alumnae, individuals and foundations.
Objective 6.3: Successfully raise funds for non-operational needs.
Strategy 6.3.1: Meet special projects fundraising goals leading up to next major fundraising campaign.
Strategy 6.3.2: Actively seek capital funding to repair and preserve historic campus buildings.
Strategy 6.3.3: Successfully execute a new capital and endowment fundraising campaign to support the goals of the strategic plan.
Objective 6.4: Successfully implement a planned giving program.
Strategy 6.4.1: Develop communications that promote participation in planned giving.
Strategy 6.4.2: Develop an active solicitation program for trusts, bequests and charitable gift annuities.
Strategy 6.4.3: Develop stewardship actions that retain our planned gifts.
Objective 6.5: Successfully implement a stewardship program.
Strategy 6.5.1: Recognize and acknowledge all donors appropriately.
Objective 6.6: Create lifelong relationships among the College and its alumnae, friends and students.
Strategy 6.6.1: Expand the communities of alumnae, donors and friends with whom the College interacts.
Strategy 6.6.2: Implement an Alumnae Reunion each year that attracts 250 attendees by 2015 and engages students in the event.
Strategy 6.6.3: Pilot the Full Circle alumnae-student mentoring program with the Former Alumnae Association Board that establishes measurable and achievable metrics for success each year.
Strategy 6.6.4: Pilot the alumnae interview program with Alumnae Association Board and set future metrics based on program success.
Strategy 6.6.5: Enhance the effectiveness of alumnae communications.
Strategy 6.6.6: Develop special events to support philanthropy goals.
Strategy 6.6.7: Develop a robust alumnae travel program.
Strategy 6.6.8: Connect with GCS alumnae across the nation to engage in alumnae activities, philanthropy and activities with current students.