Strategic Plan III
How Do We Measure Our Success?
SP II identified accountability as a defining characteristic of Dickinson, stating straightforwardly that “We will be accountable for the goals we set.” SP III reaffirms that commitment. The college as a whole has established multiple markers against which we will measure our accomplishments. In regard to budget, for example, we have long-term models that set goals in categories ranging from enrollment to endowment performance. Our Campus Master Plan has established a vision against which we will evaluate progress in facilities. Similarly, the Presidents’ Climate Commitment sets a long-term goal for dimensions of sustainable operations. SP II also mandated that accountability efforts extend to the divisional and programmatic level and we have made substantial progress to that end. Library and Information Services, for example, has established a regular regimen of annual planning with explicitly stated outcomes. Moreover, we have engaged in a number of special projects aimed at assessment, such as multi-institutional, grant-funded studies of the educational impacts of study-abroad practices. We need to enhance and expand measures of both the effectiveness of current programs and our progress toward institutional goals, especially those articulated in SP III.
Strategic Goal A. Improve effectiveness in measurement and evaluation of accomplishments and outcomes.
Objective 1. While we must continue to move forward in assessment across all dimensions of the college, three areas are of particular importance and promise for us:
a). Academic program. We currently have in place a robust ten-year cycle of programmatic review, a newly created assessment subcommittee of the Academic Program & Standards Committee working in tandem with a designated associate provost, and an initiative under way to guarantee that all programs and courses have a strong assessment dimension. We need to complete the initiative, ensuring comprehensive assessment. This must include measures—quantitative and qualitative—to track and evaluate the academic program’s distinctive characteristics, such as active learning, interdisciplinarity and emphases on global perspective and sustainability.
b). Student development. The Division of Student Development is currently implementing an assessment plan that calls for the creation of an Assessment Leadership Team and division assessment committee, definition of desired learning outcomes and evaluation measures/methods, a program of periodic internal and external reviews, and evaluation of major initiatives. This plan should be fully implemented, with particular attention to assessment of the impact of key initiatives in SP III such as the neighborhood program.
c). Alumni. Assessment of the impact of the Dickinson experience upon alumni is an essential element of accountability for us, and also complements our efforts to enhance ties with alumni. We need to redouble current efforts in this arena. Tracking of alumni achievements, activities, and careers can and should be enhanced. The recent work by the Office of College Advancement in surveying and meeting with some 2,500 alumni potential donors—an effort that included gathering information on such key elements of our program as community engagement and citizenship—shows how this can be done. Such efforts to learn alumni perspective should be systematized, for example, through longitudinal assessment of groups during their 5th, 10th, 25th and 50th reunion years.
Objective 2. Dickinson has recently expanded staffing and programming in Institutional Research and, through our Banner campus computing system particularly, enhanced technological support for data gathering. For example, we currently engage in an active program of data gathering in the arena of student experience and learning using CIRP, HEDS, NSSE and other survey instruments. Our efforts in regard to information need to be redoubled through expansion of our capacity for data gathering and continuing integration among Institutional Research and other administrative and academic units.
Strategic Goal B. SP III envisions a comprehensive, multifaceted assessment effort applied across the college and extended Dickinson community. There are, however, a number of key performance indicators that are central to meeting the challenges that define this plan and for which we have explicit targets for 2015. We believe that these “kpi” targets are as achievable as they are important. They represent both goals for SP III and assumptions upon which the plan rests.
- Enrollment: 2,200-2,300 [2012: 2,331 FTE]
- Applications: 5,750-6,000 [Class of 2016: 5,844]
- Admit rate: 40-42% [Class of 2016: 40%]
- Early decision: 48-50% of incoming class [Class of 2016: 49%]
- Yield rate: 30-35% [Class of 2016: 26%]
- Quality: 1300-1330 SAT; over 50% in the top 10% of high school class [Class of 2016: 1293 SAT average, 48% in top 10%]
- Retention (1st to 2nd year): 93% [2011-2012: 91%]
- Geography: 30% for areas outside the Northeast (VA-ME); 8% international or better [Class of 2016: 23% outside Northeast, 8% international]
- Students of color: 12% or better [Class of 2016: 13%]
- Financial aid: first-year discount rate: 3-5% below the peer/national average; % of class on need-based aid 50-52%; aid funded from endowment $5 million [Class of 2016: 36% discount rate; 2011-2012 - 50% on need-based aid; $3.6 million aid funded from endowment]
- Sustain or improve the college’s Standard & Poor’s “A” rating
- Balanced annual operating budget or better
- Endowment return: Spending rate (5% of 12-quarter average) + inflation (CPI) + plus 1% [8.5% as of 6/30/12 ]
- Endowment total: $400 million [$356 million as of 6/30/12]
- Reserves: no less than nine months of net operating expenses [$209 million as of 6/30/12]
- Annual fund: $6 million giving level [FY12 = $4 million]
- Increase membership to the John Dickinson Society ($2,500 and above gifts to the annual fund) by 30% (n=850) [628 in FY12, includes bequests]
- Alumni participation rate in giving: 38% [30% in FY12]
- Recent alumni (1-5 years out) participation rate in giving: 35% [24% in FY12]
- Parent participation rate in giving: 40% [35% in FY12]
- Senior class gift drive participation: 90% [39% in FY12]
- Old West Society: Increase membership to 500 members [350 in FY12]
- Major gifts: Double commitments between $25,000 and $250,000; increase the qualified pool of prospects capable of gifts over $500,000 by 50%; close five gifts in the $500,000 range from prospects new to this level of giving.
- $35 million investment in major facilities projects
- Facilities conditions index (deferred maintenance to facility replacement value) of 10% or lower
- Reduce carbon emissions by 2% or more annually
- All major construction/renovation to LEED “silver” standard or better
We are confident that these targets, taken individually and together, are achievable within the time frame of SP III. We recognize, though, that most are subject to forces outside our control. Such forces may accelerate or slow our progress. SP III, therefore, also assumes that the college will respond to changing circumstances with the same success it has demonstrated in implementing its first two strategic plans.