Drew will turn 150 in just a few years. As we look forward to celebrating this momentous milestone, we’re also busy planning for the university’s future beyond its sesquicentennial anniversary in 2017.
I write to let you know about the work now underway by our faculty, students, staff, trustees, and alumni organizations. The university’s Board of Trustees recently endorsed a campus-wide initiative—aptly named Drew 2017. It flows from our strategic plan, which was adopted last spring, and aims to implement fully the vision set forth in that document. We are guided by that plan’s four overarching goals:
- Create a more vibrant intellectual community.
- Enhance students’ global, social, and professional engagement.
- Strengthen our identity and better position the university.
- Ensure institutional and financial sustainability.
Our core values are at the heart of the Drew 2017 initiative, as we seek to prioritize the many academic undertakings outlined in goals one and two, and do it in a way that meets the standard of goal four—financial sustainability.
Those core values have already guided us in our work on the third goal—our identity. Last August we debuted a new website for prospective undergraduates under the banner “We deliver full-impact learning.” (Work is now underway to strengthen the Theological School’s identity, which will be followed by similar work for the Caspersen School.) While this tag line may be new, the core values and strengths it reflects—our commitment to the liberal arts, the quality of the faculty-student relationship, the opportunities for engagement with the larger world, the impressive outcomes we produce—have always been the hallmark of a Drew education. They always will be.
Finding balance between goals one, two, and four will not be an easy task. These are, as you know, challenging times for all colleges and universities. Traditional ways of recruiting students, setting tuition, formulating curricula, securing other sources of revenue, and setting investment priorities are being debated across the country. Drew is not immune to the pressures—but we are prepared to act.
The good news is that Drew has a solid foundation in place that allows us to make choices. We’re in the position to take the next 12 months to evaluate the needs articulated in our strategic vision, set priorities for the future, and develop the resources needed to support our choices.
Campus discussions are just beginning, so it’s too early to speculate on what the outcomes may be. We are guided by a focus on strengthening that which we already do so well, while investing in initiatives that align with our core values and move us forward. To invest in an era of limited resources, we must also challenge ourselves to choose what is sustainable.
There will be passionate debate, mutual learning, and difficult choices in the months ahead. A team will help us manage this process. It will involve representatives from all campus constituencies—faculty, students, staff, and administrators—under the leadership of our Chief Financial Officer, Mike Groener. Together, we will match our prioritized aspirations with our available resources.
You are a vitally important part of the Drew community. I pledge to keep you informed as priorities are set and decisions are made, and invite you to share your ideas with us as the Drew 2017 process unfolds.
Be certain that we are dedicated to continuing to offer an exceptional educational experience in each of our three schools and to ensuring that a Drew education is sought after by, and attainable for, talented students.
Vivian A. Bull
P.S. In the interest of financial sustainability, we will be sharing much of this information through email, which is the most cost-effective method. I encourage you to make sure that the Advancement Office has your current email address on file.