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Queens 2020: The Yes/And Promise

Queens Three-Year Strategic Plan

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Executive Summary

June of 2017 brought the completion of Queens’ last five-year strategic plan, “Reimagine Excellence.” In the development of that plan, we were challenged to consider whether we wanted to become a fundamentally different institution or a fundamentally better one.

The previous two five-year plans had indeed been about becoming fundamentally different. From 2002 to 2012 we evolved from a traditional liberal arts college to a full-blown comprehensive university of the New American College model. To our liberal arts core we added pre-professional programs and new academic units including the Presbyterian School of Nursing, the Blair College of Health, the Cato School of Education and the Knight School of Communication.

As we looked forward, we knew we were ready to become a fundamentally better university. It was time to, among other things, revise our curricula, support our faculty and staff in new and important ways, prioritize our resources, define our brand and strengthen our academic profile. The Queens 2017 Plan reimagined excellence across the university and much was accomplished.

Our faculty is strong; our leadership team and staff are highly capable; our curriculum is innovative; our student outcomes are improved; our brand is well defined; our campus is appealing, and, after a lot of "prioritizing for excellence,” our business practices are more efficient than ever before. Indisputably, we emerged from the 2017 strategic plan as a fundamentally better university.

Yet, as we approached our Queens 2020 planning process, we knew that there was more to be done to ensure our long-term success. The higher education industry has changed dramatically and the competition for students continues to escalate. In its report “The Small College Imperative: From Survival to Transformation,” the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) outlines the intense pressures faced by small colleges and universities. Changing student demographics, stagnant net tuition revenues, and societal demands for accountability and career preparation all combine to challenge the sustainability of many small institutions.  

The authors of this article suggest that many institutions should migrate to what they term a “distinctive program model,” aligning their programs, resources, and identity around a unique student experience that differentiates them from other institutions. They are defined by a unified, integrated student experience that leverages high-impact educational practices like global education, research with professors, internships and service learning.

As we looked toward the Queens 2020 plan, we knew that we could and should create a distinctive program model for our university. By building on our many strengths, such as a capable and eager faculty, our location in a dynamic and vibrant city and our unique signature student experiences, we can distinguish our university and our graduates in ways that enhance both our and their success.

We will accomplish this through three major strategic imperatives.

First, we will launch the “Yes/And Promise,” an initiative that will enable and ensure that every Queens student will engage in a unique combination of experiences, both in and out of the classroom, that expands the lens through which they understand and contribute to the world and that differentiates them among college graduates. Through international education, internships, community service activities, mentoring, leadership opportunities, collaborative research initiatives and other such activities that enhance learning beyond the classroom, our students’ Yes/And experience will broaden their perspectives and help shape them into who they become – that is, individuals who are prepared to make meaningful contributions in the workplace or in graduate school.

In addition, given that adult students are both a growing proportion of students in the marketplace and an important student population at Queens, the Queens 2020 plan will work to better serve these students. Our second strategic imperative is grounded in our commitment to provide highly relevant academic programs, more efficient and accessible services and flexible learning modalities to accommodate the needs of the post-traditional and graduate student. Investments in technology and training of faculty on technology-enabled pedagogues will be essential for this imperative.

Finally, we believe that having clear institutional values and a strong organizational culture has never been a more important driver of our success. Our third strategic imperative is focused on strengthening both. Queens enjoys a collective commitment to its mission and a supportive and collegial work environment. Our long-standing values of integrity and respect, creativity and innovation, stewardship, service and a focus on students have been key to the success we have achieved. We will assess and evolve those values as appropriate and then recommit ourselves to those core beliefs. We will utilize those values in selecting new employees, providing leadership development for our supervisors and managers, and communicating with and coaching the broader campus community. Our goal is to ensure that every prospective and current employee embraces our both our values and our culture and contributes to strengthening that which makes Queens an outstanding place to work.

We believe that our work in the Queens 2020 plan will distinguish Queens from other small private universities in ways that appeal to discerning prospective students. More importantly, however, the plan will serve to distinguish our graduates as they compete for the best graduate schools and career opportunities. Through this work, we will fulfill our mission of providing transformative educational experiences that nurture intellectual curiosity, promote global understanding, encourage ethical living and prepare individuals for purposeful and fulfilling lives.

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