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TCNJ 2021: Bolder, Better, Brighter

The College of New Jersey’s new strategic plan builds on the progress made during the decades-long transformation of this institution and on initiatives begun under the guidance of the 2012-16 Strategic Map. TCNJ has garnered national recognition for high quality education within a robust community of engaged learners. Bolder, Brighter, Better, developed through a highly consultative process led by the Strategic Planning and Resource Committee and approved by the College’s Board of Trustees, identifies five key priorities that enable us to further advance the institution and the people and communities we serve.

Mission

The College of New Jersey, a nationally recognized public institution founded in 1855 as the New Jersey State Normal School, is a primarily undergraduate and residential college, with targeted graduate programs. Grounded in the liberal arts, TCNJ’s personalized, collaborative, and rigorous education engages students at the highest level within and beyond the classroom. TCNJ believes in the transformative power of education to develop critical thinkers, responsible citizens, and lifelong learners and leaders. The College empowers its diverse students, staff, and faculty to sustain and enhance their communities both locally and globally.


Vision

TCNJ will offer an unparalleled education in a vibrant, collaborative, and inclusive community of learners who will make a distinct mark on the world. By following our values, we will serve as a national exemplar of public higher education, and we will do this while being committed to accessibility and affordability.


Values

Excellence

  • We admit highly talented students, whom we challenge to discover and realize their potential.
  • We recruit the highest quality faculty, staff and administrators who have the expertise and experience to mentor and challenge our students.
  • We support innovation and experimentation and continue to build on our accomplishments. We hold the highest expectations for ourselves and support each other in achieving them.

 

Engagement

  • We encourage students, faculty, and staff to pursue their curiosities and passions inside and outside the classroom.
  • We collaborate across disciplinary and operational boundaries to draw on all our strengths.
  • We work together to enrich our local, national, and global communities.

Integrity

  • We treat each other with civility and respect.
  • We act ethically and take responsibility for our choices.
  • We work together in a spirit of fairness, cooperation, and transparency.

Inclusiveness

  • We recognize the unique worth of each member of our community.
  • We believe that a community composed of people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and abilities promotes learning and engagement.
  • We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive community.

Self-reflection

  • We assess our practices in the classroom, on campus, and in the community.
  • We nurture ongoing campus dialogue to ensure that we adhere to our mission, vision, and values.
  • We routinely monitor the allocation and expenditure of our resources in order to assure that we are supporting priorities and that we are fiscally responsible.

Strategic Priorities, Goals and Action Steps

Strategic planning at TCNJ requires disciplined and informed decisions about the goals that we will and goals that we will not pursue. To sustain and advance the academic enterprise at TCNJ, we dedicate ourselves to a focused pursuit of the following strategic priorities.

The order of the priorities does not suggest order of importance, rather to begin with the programmatic and mission derived priorities and end with the priorities necessary to realize those priorities and sustain the mission and vision of the College. Most of the goals within each priority will be integrated and include coordinated action steps; however, there is a rough description of the order of the goals (either ranked, sequential or developmental) provided under each priority.

Timelines and metrics for each action step (which are being developed by the Cabinet) will clarify the rankings as well as the integrative nature of the goals. They will provide the framework for assessment by the responsible administrative officer, the Provost and the President, monitoring by the Committee on Planning and Priorities, and oversight by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and the appropriate Board committees.


Priority 1: Attract and retain talented students, faculty, and staff into a diverse, inclusive, and healthy campus.

If TCNJ is to remain an exemplar of public higher education, it must continue to strengthen its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The College made great strides under its last strategic plan, including the appointment of a Chief Diversity Officer and the completion of a Campus Climate Survey. By making diversity a focus of recruitment and retention efforts (for students, faculty, and staff), and incorporating it in daily planning and operations, the College can achieve a lasting difference in the campus culture. At the same time, creating a healthy community also requires a focus on the national trend of an increase in the number of students with mental health challenges. Since the College experience provides an opportunity to shape future behaviors, TCNJ can help to lead the way in addressing both the embracing of diversity and inclusion and the adoption of healthy life choices.

The first two goals of this priority have precedence as they describe the aspirations of the two features of the priority. Goals #3 and #4 detail specifics to realize the inclusion aspect of Priority #1

Goal 1: Make inclusiveness and diversity a part of planning and daily operations.

Action Steps:

  1. Communicate research findings regarding diversity and inclusion at TCNJ, share institutional responses and place findings in a national and regional context
  2. Create a college diversity statement.
  3. Review, revise, and create policies to reflect the college’s commitment to diversity.
  4. Create opportunities to recognize achievements that support and reflect the college’s commitment to diversity.
  5. Enhance ongoing community-wide dialogue that fosters and monitors inclusiveness and diversity.

Goal 2: Support holistic health and wellness.

Action Steps:

  1. Enhance a holistic perspective on student wellness.
  2. Provide targeted health and wellness programs/events/consultations for faculty and staff.
  3. Implement policies and practices that reflect the college’s commitment to diverse populations and support a healthy and well campus community.

 

Goal 3: Improve retention of faculty, staff, and students.

Action Steps:

  1. Implement and support career-long mentoring programs for faculty and staff.
  2. Foster and support affinity groups for students, faculty, and staff.
  3. Increase student connections to one another and the college through academic programs and co-curricular experiences.
  4. Invest strategically in support for traditionally underserved student populations.
  5. Increase emphasis on diversity in on-boarding for faculty and staff.

Goal 4: Become a national leader in attracting, recruiting, and hiring underrepresented groups in order to diversify faculty, staff, and student populations.

Action Steps:

  1. Proactively recruit diverse students, faculty, and staff.
  2. Re-examine scholarship offerings, in terms of need and merit.
  3. Create stronger connections with the diverse communities in the region.
  4. Highlight the college’s commitment to diversity in the physical space on campus.

Priority II. Enhance Signature Experiences

In 2013, the College approved five distinctive Signature Experiences that were recognized as characteristic of and integral to a TCNJ undergraduate education. They are:

  1. Personalized, Collaborative and Rigorous Education
  2. Undergraduate Research, Mentored Internships, and Field Experiences
  3. Community Engaged Learning
  4. Global Engagement
  5. Leadership Development

Research has shown that these “High-Impact Educational Practices” increase rates of student retention and engagement. Enhancing our Signature Experiences and growing student participation in them will further enhance the quality of the education we offer and the outcomes we deliver.

The goals in this priority are listed in sequential order.

 

Goal 1: Create a shared understanding of Signature Experiences, including best practices, across all units of the college.

Action Steps:

  1. Develop a survey to assess the current college offerings.
  2. Clarify expectations for Signature Experiences.
  3. Develop internal and external communication plans for the five Signature Experiences.

 

Goal 2: Develop institutional structures to oversee, support, and assess Signature Experiences.

Action Steps:

  1. Incorporate Signature Experiences into campus committee governance structures.
  2. Define learning outcomes for each experience.

Goal 3: Target areas of Signature Experiences for improvement.

Action Steps:

  1. Identify areas within each Signature Experience that need improvement.
  2. Create initiatives for building capacity and strength in the Signature Experiences.
  3. Develop incentive programs for faculty and staff to support areas targeted for improvement.

Goal 4: Create mechanisms for students to reflect on, document, and disseminate the work completed through Signature Experiences both inside and outside the TCNJ community.

Action Steps:

  1. Identify mechanisms to document student participation in Signature Experiences; consider existing mechanisms on campus.
  2. Investigate the effectiveness of a common documentation system for Signature Experiences.
  3. Engage students in building the documentation of their Signature Experiences.

 

Goal 5: Develop more in-depth Signature Experience opportunities at all curricular and co-curricular levels so that all students have the opportunity to participate in more than one Signature Experience.

Action Steps:

  1. Gather data on tiered Signature Experiences.
  2. Develop a survey to find out who is participating in tiered Signature Experiences and identify the barriers that prevent participation.

Priority III. Promote the college’s distinctive identity to enhance institutional and program recognition at the national level.

TCNJ has achieved remarkable outcomes and fills a distinctive niche in the higher education landscape. However, some stakeholders and a large portion of the public at large remain unaware of the college and its excellence. Elevating the college’s profile will allow TCNJ to compete more effectively in the increasingly competitive marketplace for highly talented students, faculty and staff and will also have positive impact on career placement for our students, institutional reputation and fundraising.

The goals in this priority are listed in developmental order.

Goal 1: Clarify how the college’s distinctive identity is integrated at the programmatic level.

Action Steps:

  1. Secure consensus on TCNJ’s distinctive identity, secure proof points from throughout the college, and develop a framework for consistently conveying the identity at both the institutional and programmatic levels.

Goal 2: Develop a shared understanding and ownership of the importance of participating in communicating the college’s identity.

Action Steps:

  1. At the unit level, identify and pursue opportunities to advance the visibility and reputation of the College.
  2. Convene meetings with academic and non-academic units about the importance of communicating the institutional identity through a series of town hall meetings, sharing best practices, and collecting ideas and tracking the degree of ownership of those strategies.

 

Goal 3: Communicate consistent and resonating core messages that serve all audiences, augmented by messaging for specific audiences.

Action Steps:

  1. Develop both general and targeted messaging that will solidify and enhance the college’s reputation among the full range of constituent groups.
  2. Develop baseline data to gauge current level of awareness of TCNJ by target audiences.
  3. Align messaging at school and programmatic level for target audiences.

Goal 4: Develop and implement specific institutional and programmatic strategies for reaching target audiences.

Action Steps:

  1. Develop a communications plan that includes specific strategies for specific audiences, with budgets and timelines, such as attracting strategic conferences and investigating a visiting post-doc program.
  2. Share the plan with stakeholders, solicit input and give them the means to help in its implementation.
  3. Assess change in the level of awareness of TNCJ by target audiences as a result of the communication plan.

Priority IV: Build, operate, and maintain a safe, sustainable, and accessible physical and technological infrastructure that supports high-caliber learning.

An exceptional education requires more than excellent professors. Information technology and facilities undergird the primary educational mission of the College. Creating an optimized, secure technology infrastructure capable of supporting high caliber learning and developing an attainable plan to provide for our physical spaces will allow TCNJ to continue to provide an exceptional educational experience in and out of the classroom. This commitment to an exceptional educational experience requires that we not saddle our future colleagues with unmanageable deferred maintenance.

The goals in this priority are listed in ranked order.

Goal 1: Address both the short (10-15 years out) and long-range (15-30 years out) space needs of the college on the conceptual level.

 

Action Steps:

  1. Complete Step One projects of the current Facilities Master Plan (Brower Student Center, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics building, Science, Travers Wolfe).
  2. Pursue funding for Step Two of the Facilities Master Plan (Armstrong, Forcina, Roscoe West Renovations) and Step Three of the plan (Packer, Recreation, Nursing) projects.

 

Goal 2: Anticipate, prioritize, coordinate, and address the instructional, administrative and residential technology needs of the college.

 

Action Steps:

  1. Revise the Information Technology (IT) strategic plan to meet current needs and future directions for information technology.
  2. Improve the communications and feedback loop between the campus community and the Information Technology division.
  3. Assess and implement technological functionality of existing facilities (i.e. furniture, multimedia rooms).
  4. Create a fully wireless, “bring-your-own-device”-ready campus.
  5. Create instructional spaces that support flexibility in pedagogy, including technology-based pedagogies.
  6. Increase interoperability of IT systems.

Goal 3: Preserve the college’s investment in its existing physical plant by stabilizing deferred maintenance, including both individual buildings and central infrastructure elements.

Action Steps:

  1. Engage an architect/engineer to complete a 10 year asset renewal plan with a goal of reducing the deferred maintenance on campus so that the facilities condition index is .1 or below (from about .18 now) and 75% of campus buildings with a renovation age of 25 years or less (currently 66%).
  2. Create a list of signature interior and exterior spaces that define the image of TCNJ to the public. Once this list is established, dedicate an institutional allocation from the annual operating budget of $100,000 to renew, enhance, and improve these signature spaces.

 

Goal 4. Incorporate sustainability practices into all academic, administrative, recreational and residential operations of the college.

Action Steps:

  1. Develop education programs in campus operations, student life, and academic affairs that foster an awareness of climate change and encourage actions to address it.
  2. Implement an energy conservation initiative involving education, behavioral change, and operating/capital projects that reduce the college’s overall energy consumption on Btu/gsf basis by 2% per year for the next six years.

Priority V: Achieve a sustainable financial model that allows the college to realize its vision while maintaining quality and affordability for the students it serves.

In an increasingly competitive higher education environment, development of new sources of revenue and prudent management of existing financial resources are equally important to the long-term financial health of any institution. To ensure the financial sustainability of TCNJ’s mission, programs, and operations, the College will grow targeted enrollments and diversify sustainable revenue streams, while implementing budget strategies to match resources with priorities.

The goals in this priority are listed in ranked order.

Goal 1: Build a multi-year financial plan that integrates capital and operating budgets to support institutional priorities.

Action Steps:

  1. Develop a multi-year operating and capital budget cycle, along with key financial performance indicators. Share this information widely across the campus community.
  2. Conduct a debt capacity/affordability assessment to guide future borrowing and revise the debt policy to ensure long-term sustainability.

 

Goal 2: Guided by a comprehensive enrollment plan that addresses undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, grow net tuition revenue by growing targeted enrollments.

Action Steps:

  1. Create a comprehensive enrollment plan that serves the wider strategic goals of the college.
  2. Grow total student enrollment by 500 students (or grow equivalency in net revenue from tuition) for the duration of the plan.
  3. Create at least two new graduate programs delivered in a blended/online learning format.

 

Goal 3: Diversify revenue streams including external funding through development, grant acquisition, and other forms of external support.

Action Steps:

  1. Develop and implement an aggressive comprehensive fundraising plan that fosters private gifts and grants in support of both annual programming and endowment growth.
  2. Increase number of external grant applications with a goal of increasing grant funding.
  3. Increase revenue on camps, conferences and fee-for-service contracts.

 

Goal 4: Reallocate resources to address strategic priorities.

Action Steps:

  1. Clarify strategic budget priorities and exercise discipline in strategic allocation of resources.
  2. Engage in cost containment/cost avoidance.
  3. Recommend that the governance review consider modification of the membership of the current Finance and Budget Planning Council to increase transparency and broaden input to the budget process.
  4. Develop an incentive-based budget model that promotes student success and encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.
  5. Promote and incentivize cross-divisional/departmental collaboration for cost savings and revenue generation.
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