Our strategic plan was developed through an open and participative process involving hundreds of faculty, staff and students. More than 1,000 members of our community provided input through committees, open forums, surveys and online feedback forms, expressing their commitment to the University and its mission and their hopes for our future.
The process was coordinated by James Kimmey, M.D., professor emeritus of health management and policy, and was guided by a steering committee co-chaired by Kent Porterfield, Ed.D., vice president for student development, and Joe Weixlmann, Ph.D., professor of English.
More than 70 faculty, staff, students and administrators representing the St. Louis and Madrid campuses participated in a day-long retreat in August 2014. During the retreat, we developed a set of principles that shaped every aspect of our work on strategic planning. These guiding principles assured that our planning activities were accessible to all members of our community and reflected the views of SLU's many stakeholders.
Mission-driven: Faithful to, and congruent with, our Jesuit heritage and educational values
Open: Actively seeking participation from all who have a stake in SLU’s future at every step in development of the strategy
Transparent: Assuring that the community will have a clear understanding of the process and of how decisions are made and priorities are set
Inclusive: Offering individuals and organizations invested in SLU’s success multiple opportunities to suggest, promote and comment upon the strategies developed for the plan
Aspirational: Accommodating new ideas and new ways of doing things unconstrained by traditional thinking and entrenched policies and procedures while respecting identified needs and the resources available
Dynamic: Recognizing that strategy is constantly reviewed and renewed in the face of a rapidly changing environment, both in academia and the larger society
Responsive: Balancing careful analysis with respectful consideration of the expressed needs and interests of stakeholders
Four overarching imperatives emerged during the planning process. These imperatives were identified as mission-critical components of the planning as this initiative moved forward.
- Reinforcing mission and identity
- Enhancing diversity and inclusion
- Deepening interdisciplinary collaboration
- Advancing institutional distinctiveness and excellence
As an institution, SLU has a rich and productive past. We were born of a pioneering spirit that has propelled the University for two centuries. Our history is one of innovative leadership — in academics, in health and medicine and in our community. In short, we have long been positioned as one of America’s leading research universities. But challenges remain.
- The decline in the number of students graduating from high school, combined with the enrollment decline in Catholic primary and secondary schools, has significant implications for the traditional pipeline to Catholic universities.
- Rising tuition costs pose a growing barrier to those seeking access to the advantages of a higher education, and indebtedness is a growing burden to graduates. The primary response of higher education — lowering the tuition charged on a case-by-case basis — means less revenue to support the people and activities of the University.
- Technology impacts all areas of the University, accelerating expectations and challenging traditional ways of operating while also providing unparalleled opportunities for innovation in education, research, and service. Students expect institutional investments in technology and other areas of support beyond anything previously experienced.
- Seekers of higher education are increasingly heterogeneous, and this diversity requires a broader range of response than in past times.
- Competition among universities for top students, top faculty and top researchers is increasing.
- The societal investment in research is declining at a time when the need for innovation and the capability of scientists and others to advance knowledge are rapidly expanding.
- Competition for limited resources inside academia reinforces the need for unique and distinctive solutions.
- Decision-making within academic culture is typically slow and deliberative, whereas the realities of the economic environment and societal expectations for higher education institutions sometimes require a rapid response.
- The focus on outcomes has grown stronger in recent decades, from health care to academic-accreditation standards to consumers. Donors, foundations and government leaders are likely to intensify their focus on accountability in coming years.
- A final challenge for a mission-driven, values-oriented, faith-based university is maintaining and nurturing those values and that faith tradition in an increasingly secular environment — a challenge Saint Louis University willingly confronts, and meets, every day.