Go Forth: Rockhurst University Strategic Plan 2018-2023

St. Ignatius statue

Reflections from our President

President Thomas B. Curran, S.J.

During my time at Rockhurst University, I’ve often been asked to name our greatest challenge. People are sometimes surprised at my answer. I believe that our biggest challenge is staying true to our mission and vision.

Recently, members of the University community were given an opportunity to provide insight into what they believe Rockhurst stands for and aspires to become. This feedback was incorporated into revised University mission and vision statements. While the substance of our mission and vision have not changed, the way we express them evolves along with society’s needs and our ability to address them.

Everything we undertake flows from this mission and vision. In fact, you will find that the second pillar of this strategic plan states that we will deeply infuse our mission and values throughout our work. Education is at the heart of our ministry, and the first pillar of our plan paves the way for Rockhurst to be a leader in educational innovation. During the past two years, we have become more intentional about creating a home for all on our campus and, as such, the third pillar of our plan is to make inclusivity our way of proceeding. The soundest strategies can’t be accomplished without the necessary resources and the fourth pillar of the plan ensures vitality and financial sustainability for the future.

This is a time of great opportunity for Rockhurst University. With a clearly defined vision, a well-planned path to take us there and a commitment to secure the necessary resources to make it all possible, I invite you to join us. In the words of one of the quotes identified with our Jesuit heritage that has inspired generations to make a positive difference, let us “Go forth and set the world on fire.”

The Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J.
President of Rockhurst University
 

Students talking on campus
Pillar I. Be a Leader in Educational Innovation

As St. Ignatius intended the Spiritual Exercises to adapt to the times and environment of those who undertook them, so must Jesuit education adapt and evolve to proactively meet the needs of current and future students. The advancing landscape of higher education, instruction, collaboration, technology, and the agility that life-long learning requires, demands that we constantly embrace educational innovation as we create the new model for a thriving Jesuit university.

In order to be a leader in educational innovation, Rockhurst University commits to designing and enhancing transformative, educational experiences to foster student success. We will ensure responsiveness to regional needs and global issues through strategic external and internal partnerships that strengthen academic and co-curricular programming. And we will inspire Ignatian citizenship through innovative educational programming and co-curricular activities that prepare graduates to lead change.

We will focus our efforts in these areas on the following objectives:

  1. Design and enhance interprofessional, interdisciplinary, and innovative academic programs and co-curricular experiences that prepare our graduates to lead change in the complex, contemporary world.
  2. Increase retention, persistence, 4-year graduation rates, and post-graduate placement by aligning programs and services through a cross-unit/cross-functional student success strategy.
  3. Revise the core curriculum to provide our students with a powerful educational foundation in the Jesuit tradition that is reflective of Rockhurst’s core values.
  4. Become a regional leader in healthcare solutions by building innovative partnerships and by preparing the highest caliber graduates from across all university disciplines.
  5. Expand and enhance undergraduate and graduate online courses and degree programs to provide more adaptive and innovative learning opportunities for existing and new student audiences.
     

Students at a service project
Pillar II. Deeply Infuse our Mission and Values

Our core values drive our reason for being, all of our decision-making, our interactions with each other and our desire to serve. In order to deepen and further enrich this connection to our mission and values, Rockhurst University commits to expressing our Jesuit, Catholic identity across all aspects of the RU experience in a way that invites people of all beliefs, as well as inquirers and seekers, to unite in the pursuit of academic inquiry, service and social justice. We will form leaders who aim to positively impact the world. And we will serve our city, region and nation by responding to the cry of those in need and to the care of the planet.

We will focus our efforts in these areas on the following objectives:

  1. Be a campus that is a leader in environmental sustainability by:
    • Improving sustainability practices on university property.
    • Developing curricular and extra-curricular initiatives related to sustainability.
    • Creating outreach initiatives to educate the university community about sustainability.
  2. Be a campus that is inclusive and welcoming to all by:
    • ​Engaging in genuine dialogue, with mission, social and intellectual solidarity the desired result.
    • Creating an intercultural community to promote ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.
  3. Become the leader in Kansas City in social justice thought and practice through an increased awareness of the university’s mission and values by:
    • Engaging the entire community in a common, cohesive outreach project.
    • Including specific curriculum content on principles of social justice.
    • Increasing a direct relationship with the University’s mission and core values across the curriculum.
    • Increasing offerings in the Thomas More Center for Catholic Studies.
    • Forming leaders who understand, embrace, and practice social justice.
    • Increasing formation programs for faculty and staff.
       

Interfaith panel
Pillar III. Make Inclusivity Our Way of Proceeding

Striving for no less than making the world our home, we know that no one can truly be home at Rockhurst University until all are at home. Over the next five years, we will learn more about ourselves and others to ensure we revere and incorporate the diversity of our world. We commit to increasing inclusivity, affordability, and support for students from diverse backgrounds, and to enhancing inclusivity and support for faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds.

We will focus our efforts in these areas on the following objectives:

  1. Establish and launch an Office of Diversity and Inclusion informed by goals gleaned from companion focus groups, town halls, and climate surveys.
  2. Recruit, support and retain more students, faculty, staff and board members from underrepresented groups.
    • Establish formal recruitment and retention plan to increase talent acquisition of diverse applicants and hires.
    • Review employment benefits to enhance their inclusive nature.
    • Create, support and promote affinity spaces for people from underrepresented groups.
    • Continue to develop scholarships for students with high financial need.
    • Develop survey(s) for graduate students to better understand their experience and then respond to needs that might be revealed.
    • Determine barriers for people with disabilities and seek to eliminate those barriers.
  3. Develop effective and sustained opportunities for diversity and inclusion development and transformative experiences for faculty, staff and students.
  4. Develop a guide for person-first, culturally competent language that is more inviting to all.
  5. Enhance partnerships and engagement with our diverse community to help students, faculty and staff grow in their own cultural understanding and appreciation, and also to serve university and community needs.
     

Students planting a tree
Pillar IV. Ensure Vitality and Financial Sustainability for the Future

We value the life-changing educational opportunities we offer and we make sound, data-informed decisions to ensure our continued operations and to safeguard the value of a Rockhurst University degree for our alumni. Our goal is to strengthen our endowment to fortify our future and continue to be responsible and intentional with our fiscal resources. We commit to investing in our faculty and staff as our greatest resources and enhancing our facilities and technology to meet the evolving needs of students, faculty and staff. Finally, we aim to reinforce the University’s identity through strategic marketing and public relations activities.

We will focus our efforts in these areas on the following objectives:

  1. Execute our Compensation Philosophy and Guidelines toward a continued emphasis on annual merit increases and market increases as a budget priority, and explore other financial and non-financial investments in faculty and staff, such as increased employee benefits and professional development.
  2. Expand our technology infrastructure to support significant expansion of our undergraduate and graduate online learning opportunities.
  3. Invest in the following facilities projects:Create a new health and recreational center for the benefit of the entire university community.
    • Improve student housing.
    • Transition Greenlease Library into a learning commons that will benefit students and faculty.
    • Reimagine existing properties, including Sedgwick Hall, to support growth in new academic programming.
  4. Conduct a comprehensive campaign with fundraising efforts directed toward growing the endowment to support increased academic scholarships, existing programs and new initiatives.
  5. Earmark a portion of our annual operating budget surplus for new funding requests specifically related to innovation.
  6. As our enrollment continues to grow, develop cross-unit, collaborative and innovative solutions and structures for managing associated rising operational costs while still prioritizing annual compensation increases.
  7. Enhance the value and brand of the university with the purpose of emphasizing our distinctive educational community and active alumni network.