Skip to main content

Strategic Plan

The Vision of Saint Vincent College

Saint Vincent College is an academic community that is inherently and profoundly shaped by its Catholic, Benedictine values and its rich heritage. Guided by the monks of its sponsoring organization, Saint Vincent Archabbey, the community is comprised of dedicated faculty, staff, students and alumni working together in pursuit of scholarly knowledge, a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for our lives and service to the local, national and global community.   

  • Overview

    A diverse Committee representing every segment of the Saint Vincent College Community was assembled in 2015/16 to build on the gains we have made under our existing strategic plan by producing a new strategic plan document for the period 2016-2021. That group reached out to a broad spectrum of the College community soliciting insights, comments, and opinions on the critical matters affecting the institution for the upcoming half decade.  This report is the culmination of that effort and is respectfully submitted to the Board of Directors for their consideration.

    The Committee was guided by consideration of three critical points of emphasis to be infused into each of the major goals identified for the school during this time period.  Those points of emphasis are:

    1. A renewed emphasis upon the implementation of the core, foundational values of Saint Vincent as a Catholic, Benedictine College of the liberal arts and sciences in all of its academic programs. 
    2. A renewed emphasis on the integration of the advances in the sciences and technology with those core foundational values enabling Saint Vincent to realize its full potential as a Catholic, Benedictine College of the liberal arts and sciences in all of its academic programs. 
    3. A renewed effort to implement the vision and challenges inherent in longstanding Catholic social teaching whose modern articulations have been most prominently presented by Pope Leo XIII (Rerum Novarum), Pope Pius XI (Quadragesimo Anno) and Pope Francis (Laudato Si’).  This implementation should reside not only in the academic programs of the College but also in the supporting operations of campus life so as to fulfill our obligation to be good stewards of our resources.  

    In order to give this strategic plan coherence and consistency, and to have it embody the driving spirit of the College expressed in the great rallying cry of our Founder “Forward, always forward,” each segment expresses how the various aspects of the experience we hope to provide our students will give them the promise of a better, more meaningful life. That spirit focuses all of us on the betterment of a College community that will instill pride in those who work here and commitment in those students we hope will join us in the collaborative effort to carry on the tradition of Saint Vincent College as an institution of higher learning in the service of the common good of society.

    Who are the students we hope to attract?

    • They are persons who desire an education not only as preparation for a meaningful profession, but also as an opportunity to seek their ultimate meaning of realities beyond the material – goodness, evil, purpose, freedom, God.
    • They aspire to be leaders.
    • They will be challenged by radical ideas about leadership:  as Jesus taught, leaders are those committed to be servants of others, difference makers, healers, and good stewards.
    • They will bring widely diverse backgrounds to the campus, cutting across economic, racial, ethnic, religious, and geographic boundaries.
    • Many will be the first in their family to experience college while others will be carrying on a tradition of higher education their parents have set.
    • They will be united by the common desire to benefit from an education presented in the deeply meaningful environment of the principles and hallmarks of the Catholic, Benedictine tradition.
    • They will be individuals willing to commit to the advancement of Saint Vincent during their years of matriculation and for the rest of their lives.

    The Seven Aspects of a Better, More Meaningful Life

    This Committee’s expression of the strategic vision is rendered by relating its theme to the structure of the existing plan in seven separate categories of campus life.  While distinct, these sections reflect the common threads of the points of emphasis and the commitment of those who are stewards of this institution to bring the traditions of its past forward for a new generation.

    These themes are Spirituality, Leadership in One’s Field, Global and Diverse Perspective, Social Justice, Life Skills, Institutional Integrity and Ongoing Commitment.

  • Section A - Spirituality

    In Catholic belief the ultimate structure of human striving for a better, more meaningful life is the reality of the divine presence everywhere.

    Goal One:
    To share an understanding of the student’s place in an institution that manifests the uniquely Benedictine charism of Saint Vincent and embraces values that have been historically identified as constituting a uniquely Benedictine institution, including community, hospitality, charity and stewardship.  Acting upon that understanding will fundamentally enrich the quality of their lives.

    Means

    • Integrate into freshmen orientation an introduction to the identity of this institution as a Catholic, Benedictine College of the liberal arts and sciences.
    • Extend these orientation efforts to new faculty, staff training and hourly community members. Encourage participation by upper level students and existing faculty and staff.
    • Include a service component with specific consideration of the importance of caring for the environment as a fundamental expression of values of community-building and stewardship. 
    • Encourage participation by members of the Benedictine community in all phases of campus operations and administration.
    • Create a working group to generate a document articulating the meaning of the Benedictine principles for the Saint Vincent community. The efforts of the working group should influence and inform the orientation and planning programs above.
    • Use the Rule of St. Benedict as a guide to create a community that works and prays together for the common good.

    Goal Two:     
    Encourage students in their own search for God: a spiritual journey, a quest for ultimate meaning, a relation to the universe which involves coming to terms with their own concept of purpose or value that will give deeper meaning to their lives.  Affirm that while each person must make this search, it is a search made within a supportive, nourishing community that is, as a community, also committed to undertaking a journey of the spirit. This journey must welcome everyone as a participant.

    Means

    • Life in a community of learners needs to be stimulated within schools, departments, and programs which stress the search for truth through creative articulation and collaborative learning.  The courses of the curriculum are primary means for the Saint Vincent community to seek to answer the questions of human existence.
    • Whenever the subject matter in any forum of the College relates to religious beliefs, a robust discussion should be encouraged. The conversation must respect individual beliefs of different or of no religious tradition.
    • The College affirms that the teachings of the Catholic faith are revealed truths of ultimate universal value. Love of God and faith in Jesus Christ are authentic values for believers. The life of faith and the life of learning are regarded as inclusive and mutually compatible, as expressed in the College motto “Veri Iustique Scientia Vindex” (“Learning is the Best Advocate of Truth and Justice”).

    Benchmark:  
    Establishing meaningful benchmarks for the achievement of spiritual growth presents a unique challenge since its evaluation is beyond the measurements of the empirical sciences.  For example, a grade in a theology course is an evaluation of a student’s understanding of a particular religious tradition, not an evaluation of the student’s faith-practice of that religion.  Whether a student truly seeks God or truly puts the interest of another before his/her own is a matter of conscience, judgment of which is solely a divine prerogative.  What can be measured are incidences of unacceptable behavior which have a harmful effect in the Community.  Reports of theft, cheating, drug or alcohol abuse, sexual assaults, vandalism, violence and the like must be acted upon by the administration in cooperation with civil authorities with due process in a timely manner to safeguard the common good. This benchmark focusing on tracking and dealing with unacceptable behavior seems essential for safeguarding a peaceful social environment conducive to our students' search for a better, more academically and spiritually meaningful life.

    The benchmarking process should also note the positive initiatives that foster an appreciation of Catholic, Benedictine values.

  • Section B - Leadership in One’s Field

    A better, more meaningful life will be led by those who aspire to leadership in their professions through the depth of their intellectual experience and capacity for life-long learning. That experience and capacity will be reflected in their expertise in their chosen area and their ongoing appreciation of the arts and sciences in the world around them.

    Goal One: The College must ensure that from the core curriculum each student derives: a) the essence of the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts and sciences tradition of the institution;  b) an appreciation of critical thinking, fluency, collaboration, and creativity; c) a striving for the integration of knowledge into a larger structure.

    Means: A well-represented, standing committee should evaluate the existing core curriculum.                    

    Benchmark:   That committee should issue an annual report assessing the effectiveness of the core curriculum in achieving the goals set forth suggesting ways in which new technologies or methodologies could be employed to enhance the value of the core curriculum.

    Goal Two: Develop new major fields of study to serve the needs of current students and those we seek to attract, always ensuring that no new program is adopted unless it can offer the students the foundational element of the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts and sciences tradition unique to Saint Vincent College. Assess whether existing programs should be restructured, consolidated or eliminated where more effective use of the academic resources of the institution could be employed consistent with our overall mission.

    Means: Through careful collaboration with the Admissions Office and community partners, and with awareness of the paths taken by recent graduates,  the academic leadership of the College should identify new areas for curricular development that will serve student needs and be financially stable and sustainable components of the College program. Having determined such areas, however, equally careful attention must be paid to providing students in those new majors with the full benefit of the foundational values of the school as expressed in Goal One above.

    Benchmark: While there may be no timetable placed on the modification of the curriculum, the College must set into place processes to allow for the means described above to occur on an ongoing basis.

    Goal Three: Each academic department must ensure that its majors are presented with a challenging and in-depth curriculum so that they may be fully prepared for the phase of their life that will begin upon their graduation from Saint Vincent.

    Means:          

    • Departments should assess how, if at all, current teaching methods could be improved to meet needs of the 21st century learner. This assessment should recognize that leadership in one’s field involves the capacity for collaboration and compromise with others working towards a common goal as well as the development of personal accountability and drive. Opportunities to learn the skills of teamwork in problem solving must be encouraged.
    • Departments should assess whether recent technologies could be utilized to enhance the educational experience in each major course of study.
    • The College should prioritize funds for faculty research where such research can involve the students and enhance their educational experience.
    • Departments should assess the student interest in and viability of existing majors and the potential opportunities for new majors within each field.
    • Departments should actively consider the establishment of post-baccalaureate degree programs where such programs would enhance the overall academic program of the Department.
    •  The College should critically assess the viability of the implementation of any of the above means by reference to its potential effectiveness, its capacity to enhance the learning environment for the students, and its viability to be implemented in a financially responsible and sustainable way.

    Benchmarks:

    • Use the assessment methodologies we have developed and will delineate in the Middle States evaluation to monitor the effectiveness of the academic programs in each major field of study.
    • Keep in close contact with graduates not only to assess their success, but to receive from them feedback on ways in which their educational experience could have been enhanced.

    Means Applicable to Each Goal in Section B:

    In seeking to serve the students through the three major goals identified above, officials of the College should assess whether structural changes in the current academic program might enhance the core curriculum, the development of effective new programs and the solidification of the rigorous quality of each major course of study. Structural changes that should be assessed include an examination of the current two semester model and the alignment of the majors under the current configuration of the four Schools.

  • Section C - Global and Diverse Perspective

    A better, more meaningful life will be led by those who fully appreciate the wondrous diversity of humanity created by God and are prepared for today’s increasingly global and diverse workplace.

    Goal One: To prepare our students for meaningful life and work in a globally diverse world, one in which they are likely to engage with individuals, cultures and governments that differ in perspective and context from their own, whether they are employed by companies that do business in global markets or engage in professions which present them with issues that demand a global perspective.  To imbue in them the sense that the traditional Catholic, Benedictine values will be invaluable to them in whatever venue their life leads. To help them embrace the call of Pope Francis to view the world as “Our Common Home.”

    Means:

    • Bring the Saint Vincent student to the world via study abroad programs by encouraging each department to explore study abroad programs consistent with their curriculum standards and financially sustainable by the students and the institution.
    • Bring the world to the Saint Vincent student:
      • Encourage programs to increase the number of international students studying on campus and ensure that those students are fully integrated and welcomed into all aspects of campus life
      • Use the advancements in technology to bring academic programs originating in countries outside the United States to our students to enhance the rigor of the academic program and confront the views of the students with viewpoints forged in cultures other than our own.

    Goal Two:  To be a community that reflects the diversity in the family of God.   

    Means:

    • Strengthen recruiting and retention efforts within the United States to attract more students and faculty of diverse backgrounds and retain them as sustaining members of the Saint Vincent community.
    • Create a welcoming and inclusive culture that provides students and faculty from diverse populations and/or cultural backgrounds with a sense of agency and the opportunity to thrive.
    • Strengthen the ways that the College supports the success of students from underserved and disadvantaged populations, including full integration into the community, timely graduation and post-graduation employment.

    Benchmark:
    A yearly assessment and tracking of these categories and outcomes should be maintained to ensure that we are making regular and sustained progress on these dimensions.

  • Section D - Social Justice

    A better, more meaningful life will be led by those who have the wisdom and courage to promote justice and to relieve the lot of and empower the poor.

    Goal:   To help our students understand:

    • That the principles of social justice are not tied to a single, political ideology but express the ideals of traditional Catholic social teaching (contemplation of the world in wonder, loving care of creation, and justice towards all humanity), the themes of Catholic Social Teaching embraced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and are at the heart of our identity as a Catholic, Benedictine institution in the best tradition of the liberal arts and sciences.
    • That actions they take to address the needs of those made vulnerable by poverty and invidious discrimination will enhance their own lives, enrich society by enabling the formerly disenfranchised to contribute their wisdom and talent to the world, and fulfill the mandate “that in all things God may be glorified.”
    • That responsible citizenship by each individual is a value to be refined in order that the country reaps the benefits of its democratic institutions.
    • That respect for human dignity and the human person is at the core of any hope for social justice.

    Means:

    • Express and cultivate a unified commitment to social justice throughout the College, while acknowledging the need for open discussion about what that commitment entails.
    • Educate the students on the practical functioning of the social justice system in the United States and the organizations and structures that affect the social justice system so that they may understand how to channel their efforts more effectively.
    • Continue to support and build upon our many existing social justice initiatives.
    • Ensure that members of the community have the potential to flourish while among us, especially members of underrepresented or marginalized groups.
    • Promote a campus-wide conversation about social justice issues, including opportunities for those working on various issues in social justice to meet regularly, discuss their ideas, and share information about their efforts. The Review should also devote appropriate time and attention to social justice issues.
    • Ensure that our own hiring, retention, and promotion practices are consistent with our commitment to social justice.

    Benchmark:

    Those working on specific social justice issues and programs across campus will be best able to propose appropriate benchmarks for monitoring our progress. Without setting artificial standards, we must hope that the discussion of the teaching of Laudato Si’ will continue and expand, that more opportunities will be made available for students to engage in charitable activities throughout the community, and that our employment practices will reflect the institution’s commitment to these principles. In this regard, diversity is not to be sought merely for diversity sake; rather, it is to reflect our commitment to listen with the ears of our hearts to a chorus of the voices that cut across the boundaries of all humankind.

  • Section E - Life Skills

    A better, more meaningful life will be led by those who balance work and leisure, exercise moderation in all things, learn strategies for overall healthy living in mind and body and appreciate their capacity for leadership.

    Goal One:       To offer the students a variety of opportunities to enjoy physical health while in college and acquire healthful lifestyle habits for their future wellbeing. 

    Means:

    • Encourage various forms of physical activity to suit the interests of all students.  Consistent with concerns for financial responsibility, upgrade and expand exercise facilities for activities that will involve a wide spectrum of students, staff and campus organizations.
    • Develop an outreach program to gauge student interest in particular exercise venues.
    • Promote the Healthy Relationships Program, the teachings of the Theology of the Body, and an understanding of the broad spectrum of health and wellness services and educational programs offered by the Wellness Center.  Increase involvement of Excela Health Care to enhance these services. 
    • Assess the need for additional healthful food options in the community center, the Shack and the Barista.
    • Encourage students to chart their health progress throughout College under the supervision of trained health professionals.
    • Encourage students to spend time outdoors, for their physical and spiritual health, and to foster an appreciation of the natural world.

    Goal Two:      Provide the students with a range of psychological support to promote a safe and supportive environment in which students can confront intellectual challenges, explore new emotional situations, chart their future with self-confidence and pride, and learn the benefits of a life balanced among work, spirituality,  exercise and leisure.

    Means:

    • Continue to provide clinical counseling from licensed therapists and educational opportunities for stress management, overall happiness, drug and alcohol awareness, sexual violence and bystander training, anxiety, depression, suicide prevention, healthy relationships, gambling and other addictions.  Determine the need for additional counseling hours to meet student demand in any or all of these areas. 
    • Insure that the new Title IX program is fully implemented with a goal to providing a safe environment, support for individuals who have been victimized by sexual violence or harassment, and strong educational programs to address healthy adult relationship issues.
    • Establish a working group to develop effective means to integrate guidance on areas of  alcohol and other drug use and effects, sexual assault prevention, bystander training and Title IX considerations, conflict resolution, coping skills/resiliency, effective communication, introduction to health and wellness/physical activities and creating balance in your life, into the curricular and co-curricular programs of the College, beginning in the Freshman year. 

    Goal Three:   Encourage students to learn and exercise leadership skills. Emphasize that leaders must exhibit the capacity for hard work and a keen understanding that service to others is at the heart of leadership.

    Means:

    Make leadership training part of a general offering of health and wellness programs so that all students are encouraged to find the confidence and courage to take up positions of service and responsibility. This training must emphasize the skills of collaboration and respect for others as critical elements of the process of teamwork in which the leader functions.

    Benchmark for All Goals in Section E:

    • Survey students on a regular basis as to their satisfaction with the physical/psychological/leadership support services on campus, the availability of healthy non-academic activities and their general level of satisfaction with the quality of their life here.
    • Use NSSE or similar instruments to measure student engagement in life skills activities.
    • Monitor participation in varsity and intramural sports.
  • Section F - Institutional Integrity

    A better, more meaningful life will be led by those who are inspired by an institution that maintains financial stability, does not leave them unduly burdened with debt that could cripple their ability to pursue new challenges, wisely manages its resources, engages in honorable business practices and recognizes the dignity of each person in the community.

    Goal One: 

    • Recognize that the call of Pope Francis on issues regarding the care for God’s creation is fundamentally a call to the ideals of stewardship, discipline and stability which are hallmarks of the Catholic, Benedictine tradition. Such a call, as Pope Francis reminds us, is but an extension of the teachings of Jesus who was “in constant touch with nature, lending it an attention full of fondness and wonder.”
    • Develop a financially sustainable model for the operations of the College that will solidify the financial position of the institution and lessen the need for preeminent reliance on tuition dollars to insure stability.
    • Prioritize the availability of institutional financial aid at a level to minimize the necessity of qualified students taking on significant college loan debt.

    Means:

    • Study and implement strategies that will stabilize net tuition revenue over time in ways consistent with the Catholic, Benedictine values and high standards of academic rigor.
    • Encourage new sources of revenue for the College that are consistent with the educational mission and offer increased sustainability to the financial base of the institution, lessening reliance on tuition revenue.
    • Prioritize the support of students through endowed scholarships and other financial structures that will enable the College to recruit the kind of students it seeks without incurring undue increases in the discount rate.
    • Develop programs to allow students who need to do so to work during their matriculation to earn funds to support their educational endeavors. Assist students who are carrying a portion of the responsibility for their own education to be able to do so consistent with the academic demands of the institution.
    • Use technologies to reduce costs and achieve economies of scale whenever they may be employed without compromising the Catholic Benedictine liberal arts and sciences tradition of the institution.
    • Monitor and assist students in the ability to graduate within four years, analyzing appropriate and financially sound levels of academic support for students in need.
    • Help ease the practical burdens of students by increasing the level of involvement and support by alumni and friends through mentoring, placement, career-preparing internships, and others.

    Benchmarks

    The senior leadership of the College must develop an integrated way in which to balance various indicators to achieve the overall goals of this Strategic Plan. Among the relevant indicators are those listed below, along with the individual(s) most directly responsible for helping to set and achieve each, interrelated component:

    • Net tuition and fees revenue, total – levels to be set in consultation with the Vice-President of Finance and Administration.
    • Discount rate – levels set in consultation with Vice President of Admission, Marketing and Communications and Vice-President of Finance and Administration.
    • Student First fund – levels set in consultation with the Executive Vice-President of Institutional Advancement.
    • Endowment value – levels to be set in consultation with the Executive Vice-President of Institutional Advancement.
    • First to second year retention rate – levels set in consultation with the Dean of Studies.
    • Graduation rate after 4, 5, 6 years – levels set in consultation with the Dean of Studies.

    Goal Two:   Address infrastructure needs by wisely managing resources to support the challenges of traditional Catholic social teaching.

    Means:

    • Emphasize environmental concerns when prioritizing infrastructure and technology needs.
    • Increase private giving targeted to infrastructure needs to sustain annual ongoing operational expenditures.
    • Enhance the natural beauty of the campus and its surroundings.
    • Where economically feasible and consistent with the goal of financial stability, enhance the dormitories to encourage students to take full advantage of our overall program by living on campus throughout the four years of their matriculation.
    • Make improvements to the classrooms and other educational facilities based upon the specific plans of the faculty to enhance the presentation of the educational program of the institution.
    • Enhance facilities to assure that commuting students feel that they are welcome members of the community.

    Benchmarks

    • Identify annual capital budget funds to support continuous improvement in environmental performance of campus operations.  
    • Grow the endowment fund by soliciting gifts for a deferred maintenance fund with an emphasis on stewardship and improved environmental performance.
    • Find objective ways to measure the efforts of the campus to conserve resources and utilize them more efficiently on a year to year basis.

     Goal Three:   Through employment practices, to demonstrate to our students that an effective and efficient organization can attract a diverse and competent population of employees and promote a welcoming and collaborative working environment among everyone in the institution.

    Means:

    • Review employment practices and policies to ensure that they recognize the dignity of work and the respect of persons in all employment categories in the institution.
    • Review the compensation levels of employees to ensure that we are comparable to those within the peer group and foster an environment wherein we will attract the best people for the service of the students.
    • Encourage students and staff to make positive contributions to the institution by suggesting better means by which we may exercise good stewardship of our resources.
  • Section G - Ongoing Commitment

    A better, more meaningful life will be led by those who remain connected to Saint Vincent and actively contribute to the betterment of the institution in multiple ways for students in subsequent generations

    Goal:   Establish programming for current students and alumni that builds upon and integrates the core, foundational values of Saint Vincent as a Catholic Benedictine College of the liberal arts and sciences, which will then serve as the framework to keep our students connected to Saint Vincent College after graduation.

    Means:

    • Engage the appropriate Offices at Saint Vincent (Alumni, Student Affairs, The Career and Professional Development Center, Campus Ministry, Service Learning, etc.) to create a collaborative program enabling alumni to remain involved and connected to the College and provide them a way to take part in the lives and experiences of current students.  Examples may include Senior Seminars where alumni provide guidance and advice on such topics as career and retirement planning, financial literacy, work/life balance, and service opportunities.
    • Programming involving alumni should look to integrate the hallmarks of the Rule of Saint Benedict and traditional Catholic social teaching along with offerings encompassing subjects in the liberal arts, business, natural and social sciences, whether the program is looking to impact the spiritual, academic or social well-being of the student. 
    • Such programming should also seek to grow a connection not only between current  students and the College, but between students and alumni regardless of class year.  The programming should touch upon four pillars: 
      • recruitment of future students to Saint Vincent;
      • providing internship and cooperative experiences for current students;
      • assisting with and providing job opportunities to graduates of Saint Vincent; and,
      • providing financial support to the College.

    Examples could include assistance at admissions recruiting fairs, job fairs and activities aimed at building a culture of philanthropy among students while still at Saint Vincent that carries on after graduation.

    • Such programming should utilize technology to engage students and alumni by providing a bridge for students once they are no longer able to easily make it back to campus.  Examples include live-streaming of on-campus lectures (e.g. Threshold, New Horizons), athletic events, and social and professional networking.

    Benchmark:

    Once programming has been set up, Saint Vincent can then measure the effectiveness by tracking alumni and student attendance at events, involvement in recruiting students to Saint Vincent through the Alumni Grant, gifts to the College and involvement on campus after graduation.

    The Alumni Director will monitor these programs and keep track of their efficacy.