We had the great pleasure of helping Stockton University create its new strategic plan. The university’s essence is captured by the Stockton Idea: to make available to state college students at state college prices the kind of interdisciplinary and individualized liberal arts education usually reserved for students at exclusive private liberal arts colleges.
This mission, vision, and the university’s values must be preserved in a context that is dramatically different than when the university was founded. The demographic make-up of New Jersey is changing: future students are likely to be older and more diverse; and many New Jersey high school students leave the state to pursue higher education. The economy in southern New Jersey is struggling; the value of higher education is being challenged; and the political and economic landscapes are volatile.
These circumstances combine to form a generational opportunity to take what was an egalitarian ethos of the late 1960s and consider its implications and applications for today’s multi-ethnic world.
After intensive consultation with Stockton’s people and a comprehensive data analysis, the university formulated the idea of a “second commencement”: a careful and intentional self-examination of its core organizational elements and processes and, where necessary, a resulting realignment. To do this, the strategic plan focuses on five key initiatives: inclusive student success; teaching and learning as a “prime mover”; strategic enrollment management, financial sustainability; and people, communication, and shared governance.
Stockton’s new strategic plan therefore explains how the university can spend the next five years establishing the foundational building blocks that will position it for future success while preserving its core identity.