Shepherd University is taking bold strides in shaping its future amid state and nationwide challenges with the implementation of a new five-year Strategic Plan “Transforming Our Future: Implementing Change in an Era of Innovation.” As the number of high school-age students declines nationwide and state appropriations continue to dwindle, Shepherd University is creating a fiscally responsible and progressive set of goals and strategies to build on the school’s 147 years of success.
“Great emphasis must be placed on creative thinking to navigate the current and future challenges facing Shepherd University,” said President Mary J.C. Hendrix. “This necessitates that Shepherd become increasingly more innovative and resourceful, allowing us to pursue unparalleled opportunities to train the next generation of leaders and model citizens.”
As the lowest funded public baccalaureate institution per FTE (full-time equivalency) in West Virginia, Shepherd has become increasingly reliant on tuition, special fees, and room and board revenue to fund basic operations as well as to fund utility and maintenance cost increases. In order to achieve the university mission, add new initiatives, and address deferred maintenance, Shepherd must develop a financial model that meets current needs, allows for investments in the future, and builds a contingency reserve.
With a presidential directive to find solutions resulting in a stronger financial position for the institution, Shepherd’s Strategic Plan is focused on four areas: the university’s image, the student experience, the employee experience, and the campus environment. At the core of each area is improving the college experience for all Shepherd students and ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity for future academic and career growth.
Among the key strategies are strengthening recruitment, enrollment, and student success leading to degree completion; developing collaborative partnerships and funding opportunities with community and regional businesses; reducing financial, academic, and environmental barriers for qualified students; offering flexible, high-quality education outside of traditional learning models; encouraging faculty innovation and professional development opportunities for staff; creating a sustainable campus with a mindset toward energy conservation; and ensuring the efficient use of all campus facilities and assets. Implementation teams of administrators, faculty, and students began meeting in June to create tactics that minimize cost and maximize efficiencies.
“As a regional public institution, Shepherd University embraces and serves a broad range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students by providing access to higher education,” Hendrix said. “During this time of dynamic change, Shepherd will continue to seek new, innovative approaches as we strengthen our foundation and shape our future for providing exceptional experiences for our students, employees, and partners.”
To read the full Strategic Plan and track the progress of the implementation teams, visit www.shepherd.edu/strategic-plan.