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New Report Lauds Stetson for Strategic Change and Innovation

Council of Independent Colleges profiles Stetson in a research publication detailing how universities are responding to the triple threats of economic pressures, rising costs and increasing competition.

As education evolves, Stetson University’s Strategic Map is charting a sound course for the future.

That was the conclusion prominently cited in a new research report released by the Council of Independent Colleges, “Strategic Change and Innovation in Independent Colleges: Nine Mission-Driven Campuses.” Stetson was among the CIC members profiled in detailed case studies of recent initiatives undertaken in response to economic pressures, rising costs and increasing competition.

The case studies included pragmatic examples of institutions identifying new revenue sources, reshaping academic programs and reconsidering priorities while staying true to core institutional missions. They represent a range of effective change efforts underway at many other independent colleges and universities.

Stetson’s case study was named “Embracing a Strategic Culture for Improving Programming and Enrollment.”

The university’s mission is to “provide an excellent education in a creative community where learning and values meet, and to foster in students the qualities of mind and heart that will prepare them to reach their full potential as informed citizens of local communities and the world.” In the report, Stetson was recognized for both the volume and the variety of its innovations — with actions extending across academic, financial and operational arenas and across both revenue and cost objectives.

The report outlined moves made by President Wendy B. Libby, Beth Paul, provost and executive vice president and Robert Huth, chief financial officer and executive vice president along with their positive results. Finally, the report concluded that “in contrast to some of the other institutions featured in this analysis, Stetson leveraged its location, resources, and academic reputation to increase both prestige and student enrollment.”

The report is the latest resource from CIC’s Project on the Future of Independent Higher Education, designed to help CIC member institutions prepare for the future more effectively by identifying potential challenges to independent higher education, highlighting new business models and other promising initiatives, and supporting campus-based efforts to rethink missions and strategic plans while preserving the student-centered nature of independent colleges.

The study was prepared by James C. Hearn, professor and associate director of the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia, and his colleagues Jarrett B. Warshaw and Erin B. Ciarimboli. It is a companion to the report published by CIC in July 2015, “Mission-Driven Innovation: An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change Among Independent Colleges.”

The full current report is available online as a PDF.

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