Updated Norwich strategic plan set new goals, improvements for 2019

West Hall, a new dorm for civilian students, is expected to be completed by the fall semester of 2014. The 2019 university plan calls for most students of both lifestyles to live on campus in dorm housing.

West Hall, a new dorm for civilian students, is expected to be completed by the fall semester of 2014. The new                       2019 university plan calls for most students of both lifestyles to live on campus in dorm housing.

Wide-eyed freshmen students land on the Norwich University campus every August when the leaves start to change colors. Upon their arrival, they obtain many important papers, one of which is pocket-sized with the guiding values on one side and the vision statement, mission statement, and the five NU institutional priorities on the other.

Those statements, values, and priorities are what are fueling the goals of the NU 2019 Strategic Plan, which was created by staff of the university in order to better the future of students, faculty, and staff alike.

The original 15-year plan was created in 2004 as the “university’s reputation in the marketplace and its branding” were being looked at for improvement, along with the university’s financial model, according to Philip Susmann, the vice president of strategic partnerships of NU.

Because the original strategic plan met nearly all of its goals by 2012, the people in charge, Susmann included, came together and updated it and that update was released to the public on Jan. 17, 2014.

The document sets broad new goals on a wide range of topics, from increasing the diversity of the student body and having most students live on campus in the future, to expanding online and graduate programs and reinforcing guiding values.

“We realized that a number of the goals that were set in that plan had already been reached in terms of the quality of the student population, the financial performance of the university,” Susmann said. “We had, at that time (in 2012), built the first new dormitory for civilian students up on the south end of campus.”

Since the original plan was issued in 2004, there have been many new developments in society that have affected the university, such as the rise of online education, the recession of 2008, and the downsizing of the military.

Since numerous goals were already met, and various different factors have affected the university, President Richard W. Schneider opened the plan back up and called everyone together for an update, Susmann explained.

As Schneider put it in an email, “The successes and accomplishments realized since 2004, in concert with the new and emergent sets of challenges, require that we work together to reassess our goals and adjust our strategies.” He also said that the update was sent out so comments and criticism could be made about the plan for revisions before the Board of Trustees saw the final version in April, where they would decide to approve the plan or not.

The first goal of the updated plan is to have 2,100 students who reside on campus. As stated in the plan, “two of the three new dormitories (referring to South Hall and Crawford) called for in NU2019 have been completed. The third new dorm, yet to be built, will have 183 beds.”

Once the newest dorm is completed, there will be a total of 2,000 beds available on campus for residence. The hope is to have the commuter student population drop to 100 after the newest dorm has been built.

NU is also trying to make its student body more diverse by having more residential students on campus, as well as trying to increase the number of study abroad and international students. The expectation of the commuter population is to add diversity to the university through veteran and adult students, which will decrease over time.

“I would like to see more efforts made to recruit students of all backgrounds, intellectually, culturally, and geographically,” said Guiyou Huang, the NU senior vice president for academic affairs and the dean of faculty and professor of English.

NU has students from almost every state, but should have more diversity amongst the student body with international students, which, Huang said, “goes beyond the Canadian border.”

In an email sent out by Frank Vanecek, the vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, he indicated the civilian student housing policy for the school year of 2014 to 2015 will be changing. The new policy states that students must live on campus for eight semesters for civilian and corps members.

“This policy will align the civilian housing requirement to be identical with the corps housing requirement,” he said. The only exceptions would be those students who are married. “All married students, no matter their age, will be able to live in off-campus housing, new students (freshmen or transfer), 24 years of age or older at the time of their arrival to Norwich, will not be allowed to live in on-campus housing, and new students (freshmen or transfer), arriving for the fall 2014 semester and thereafter will have an eight semester, on- campus housing requirement – regardless of when they turn 21 years of age.”

Other exceptions would be that freshman and sophomores for the classes of 2017 and 2016 can request to live off-campus for the senior year if they are of age, which is 21. The juniors, or class of 2015, can request to live off campus if 21, for the 2015 school year, but if they do not turn 21 before the fall semester, they can request off campus housing for the spring semester or “will be offered on-campus single rooms without the additional single room surcharge, (though these are) subject to availability.”

A bona fide civilian commuter student will not be subject to the same living arrangement obligations as other students. NU considers a “bona fide civilian commuter” as someone who has immediate family that is within 50 miles or a one-hour commute to Norwich.

Another example of a “bona fide commuter” is “an independent student as defined by federal financial aid regulations. If dependent on family, the parent or guardian must authorize the student in writing to live in this residence. The parent’s or guardian’s residence (rent or own) may not have been secured solely for the purpose of providing a ‘residence’ for this student.”

The last exception for the required living arrangements is if a studentcurrently lives off campus, they are also allowed to live on campus if they so desire.

The next goal of the new NU 2019 Plan is to have 3,200 graduate and online students. “Norwich online programs will engage 2,000 students in 12 masters programs, post-baccalaureate certificate programs and partner-based continuing education.”

“There are goals wrapped around things like what will the academic program consist of, what are the experiences we’re going to provide for our students, how we’re going to prepare our students to be able and capable to operate and discipline in a current technological stand point as we look at the world,” Susmann said.

The goal for the online programs is to engage around 1,200 undergraduate students to the five online programs to complete their degrees. The current programs available are criminal justice and strategic studies and defense analysis; the other programs are yet to be decided.

“What’s coming next is the plans for the particular academic schools and the academic schools will address very specific sets of details,” Susmann said.

“We have started to create an academic plan,” Huang said. “My hope is by the end of this calendar year we will have an academic plan.”

For now though, part of the general academic goals for the updated plan is to balance out the majors. For example, communications does not have as many students as criminal justice, so in the future there would “be a more even distribution of students amongst different majors,” Huang said.

The third goal addresses issues for the faculty, rather than the students, stating, “Faculty pursue scholarly activity and professional development within and across disciplines to grow as scholars or practitioners, as well as to enhance the student experience.”

The main reason for this goal was to create a more diverse way of learning for the students by supplying professors who have come from all over, and allowing NU’s programs to be diverse as well. According to the revised plan, “All Norwich programs will allow for international experiences to broaden student perspective and expand cultural awareness.”

“We’re looking to be able to grow the opportunities for our students internationally,” Susmann said.

To help with this, the online experience will be extended for students studying abroad. They will also, “continue to rely on a small cadre of core faculty in the CGCS (College of Graduate and Continuing Studies) to administer and oversee the educational processes, with a national network of adjunct faculty who are leaders in their individual fields.”

According to Huang, the faculty will also start using more technology and learning how to hold online classes, as well as using more technology in classroom teaching. The university goal will be to continue to enable the faculty to be models to the future scholars.

“In the spirit of our founder Alden Partridge, all Norwich faculty will collaborate across learning modalities and delivery systems for an innovative interdisciplinary educational process,” according to the plan.

For the national brand goal, the school is trying to better its reputation through student achievements in sports and competitions, the faculty’s teaching, as well as school ranking. “Norwich is ranked as a Northeast United States top tier institution as recognized by U.S. News and World Report,” the plan notes.

Norwich also took a look at its financial plan and made adjustments. “If you don’t make a little bit of money every year, then you go out of business,” said Susmann. “We would like to continue to grow our endowment, which funds scholarship opportunities and the university as a whole. We have to continue to operate not at a loss, or in the black, on an annual basis once you take all pieces in,” Susmann said.

The plan also spells out “five I’s,” which include: improve learning, inspire students, information technology for all, internalize the campus, and invest strategically.

“In my opinion, the most important part of (the plan) is that the set of guiding values and the mission statement, which hopefully we are still doing today,” Susmann said. “Our values guide our actions and our mission and is a measure for all of our programs.”

“It’s important for our students and for our graduates that we continue to focus our efforts in such a way that we grow both the quality and the value of our programs,” Susmann said.

The original 2004 plan was designed as a 15-year document because 2019 is the 200-year anniversary of the school. “This strategic plan was, where do we want to start our next adventure within the institution,” Susmann explained.

The update enables Norwich to look back at what was achieved, which Huang said is important: “We have made a lot of progress.”

Huang added that, “It also allows us to look at what we didn’t do as well.” Internalization is one of the “five I’s” where the school has not done as well, according to Huang.

There is already a new committee put together called, “The Norwich After-Next,” a group charged with looking at NU and where it should be for year 2035. “We’re looking out further into the future,” Susmann said.

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