Strategic Planning at TCU
Texas Christian University is significantly different now from the TCU of 2003. That year, the University began a transformational journey that continues today and will further evolve as TCU gains greater distinction and recognition in higher education.
Vision in Action (VIA), our ongoing, inclusive strategic planning initiative, is responsible for this campus renaissance. Two phases of VIA are complete, and a full report of both can be found at http://www.strategicplanning.tcu.edu/.
As a result of Vision in Action, TCU has experienced unbelievable momentum. Among the highlights:
- A multitude of new scholarships and endowed chairs/professorships
- A completely transformed physical campus
- Applications for admission that have grown by 120 percent since 2006 to more than 19,000
- Unprecedented success with The Campaign for TCU, which raised more than $434 million, including $109 million for scholarships
- New institutes, programs and partnerships that offer great cultural experiences and enable faculty and students to find solutions for complex issues
- Recognition by U.S. News & World Report as a top 20 up-and-coming university and ranking among the top 100 national universities
- A student-faculty ratio of about 13:1
- Recognition for two consecutive years as one of The Chronicle of Higher Education Great Colleges to Work For
THE ACADEMY OF TOMORROW
However, there is still more work to be done to become an even better version of ourselves. As we look toward our future, we must consider the Academy of Tomorrow and how we can become a truly great national university. I am confident we can do this while holding fast to our mission: To educate ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.
Following the direction mapped out by the latest phase of Vision in Action, our Board of Trustees, led by Chairman Clarence Scharbauer III, has charged us to move forward boldly to address three key strategic areas:
TCU’S ACADEMIC PROFILE and REPUTATION
TCU will gain recognition as a great national university by maintaining our historic character as a person-centered, residential, liberal arts school rather than by changing our identity. Our goal remains focused on taking bright students with uncommon potential and transforming them into ethical leaders who impact the world through research, scholarship and creative activity of high quality. This will enhance the scholarly reputation of students and faculty alike.
As a person-centered university, we must fortify the teacher/scholar model, a TCU hallmark. One way this University changes lives is by providing a student-centered environment where faculty serve as teachers, scholars and mentors. Building and sustaining such relationships requires a low student-to-faculty ratio. Currently, this ratio is about 13:1. Our goal, as approved by the Board, is to maintain a ratio that is better than 14:1.
To further build our academic quality, we need to strengthen targeted programs over the next several years, making significant investments in personnel, program expansion, support services and facilities. As is common in dynamic settings such as ours, there is a likelihood that many other opportunities will develop beyond those that are listed below. However, our Board believes we must be strategic with our resources and as such, focus most intensely on these projects in the years immediately ahead:
Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences: We will meet the needs of current students and faculty in this college. The various academic programs in Harris College are among the fastest growing on campus, reflecting society’s critical need for new professionals in all areas of health care.
Neeley School of Business: We will strengthen all programs in the Neeley School. Neeley is growing in national prominence. For example, U.S. News & World Report ranks our business school fourth in the nation for MBAs with the Most Financial Value at Graduation.
Mary Couts Burnett Library: We will reconstruct the library in its current footprint, repurposing the building to accommodate the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s students.
The TCU Energy Institute: We must continue to invest in the Energy Institute as energy policy and production become increasingly critical. This institute offers a definitive “seize the moment” opportunity.
John V. Roach Honors College: The Honors College provides extensive opportunities for excellence and attracts students who raise TCU’s academic profile and contribute significantly to the intellectual life of the campus.
IDEAL SIZE and BALANCE FOR TCU
The second critical issue is finding TCU’s ideal size and balance. Enrollment drives the financial long-term stability of any modern university. Now is the time to cement what has been happening to us by good fortune and hard work over recent years, while retaining TCU’s unique character.
Over the past six decades, TCU’s total enrollment has increased slowly and steadily, reaching 9,518 in the fall 2011 semester. While our enrollment goal in recent years has been 1,600 incoming freshmen, actual enrollment has exceeded 1,800 for three consecutive years. In addition, the vital freshman-to-sophomore retention rate has steadily improved to 87 percent.
The Board of Trustees consequently has approved a targeted total enrollment ceiling of 10,000, with a mix of 8,500 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students. At this size, the University can continue to maintain a low student-to-faculty ratio and provide the personalized TCU experience and the fulfillment of the TCU Promise that so defines us.
In addition to size, we must also consider the right undergraduate student balance. It is our intent to maintain TCU’s character while at the same time continuing to work toward a more diverse environment reflective of the world in which our graduates will live, work, play and raise families. Consequently, the Board of Trustees has approved moving toward:
- A mix of 60 percent of undergraduates from Texas and 40 percent from out-of-state
- A 50/50 mix of undergraduate male and female students
- An ethnically diverse mix of undergraduates
Over recent years, Athletics also helped expand the reach and recognition of our university. Consequently, we must continue to wisely invest in both facilities and sports programs to maintain our competiveness in our new conference, the Big 12.
CREATING the OPTIMAL CAMPUS ENVIRONMENT
The last strategic issue the Board of Trustees approved is creating an optimal campus environment.
First, we plan to optimize use of current campus facilities through:
- More efficient use of classroom space
- Creation of more faculty office space within the colleges and schools
- Creation of flexible interdisciplinary space
- Continued emphasis on facilities that ensure the vibrancy of student life
Second, we intend to create an Intellectual Commons on the east side of campus that will include facilities such as the repurposed library and others to create a more vibrant academic setting. The impact of the Intellectual Commons will be as transformational for academics as the Campus Commons has been for our residential campus.
Finally, over the next 10 years, we intend to house every undergraduate on campus, as long as there is a demand for the full residential experience. Construction of the Greek Village at Worth Hills will begin in January 2013. Additionally, we will renovate Colby Hall, our last original residence hall remaining in need of renovation.
The University must keep the possibility of an exceptional TCU education open to all deserving students. This goal will require significant increases in scholarships and financial aid. A robust and growing endowment is imperative to provide those scholarships, as well as support for academic programs and faculty and new faculty positions. Therefore, fundraising efforts will focus on these objectives.
Creating the future is daunting. But we must seize this moment of transformation to move TCU toward becoming a great national university. Not to diminish the University’s identity and its values, but instead to respect and enhance its distinctions — all that is right and true about this wonderful school.
In short, we must fulfill TCU’s destiny: to truly be a world-class, values-centered university.