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S T R AT E G I C P L A N 2014-2019

O U R S T R AT E G I C P L A N An Introduction from the President

Though light on resources, the Sisters of Mercy succeeded in establishing Pittsburgh’s first Catholic college for women, a place where the city’s immigrants and the working poor could go to make a better life for themselves and their families. The story of our opening in 1929 is not without adversity and struggle. The stock market collapsed just one month later, for example, but with each setback our founders were only more determined to make Mount Mercy—and more importantly, its students—succeed. This legacy of tenacity and triumph endures at today’s Carlow University, where the hallmarks of a Catholic, Mercy education are alive and thriving. At Carlow, we seek to be of service in the world; to transform and empower individuals to have mastery over their lives; to have faculty who are connected to the community; to have students and alumni who will change the world for the better. Transforming Lives. Transforming Our World: Strategic Plan 2014-2019 builds on the institution’s strong heritage of determination and innovation. It underscores Carlow’s unique role as a private, co-educational Catholic institution that provides opportunities to a broad array of students while serving the region’s societal and workforce needs. And most importantly, the plan lays the framework for Carlow’s forthcoming work, helping us to move boldly into the future while embracing the entrepreneurial spirit of our founders.

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In 1929, Mount Mercy College opened its doors.

Transforming Lives. Transforming Our World brings together the Carlow community, including our alumni who personify the Carlow experience, under a unified vision, establishing the pace, standards, and expectations for the future of Carlow University.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Catherine McAuley, founding Sister of Mercy 3


Tr a n s f o r m i n g L i v e s . Tr a n s f o r m i n g O u r Wo r l d .

“To instruct is an easy matter, but to educate requires ingenuity, energy, and perseverance without end.” Frances Xavier Warde, founder of the American Sisters of Mercy

Carlow University graduates are leaders and change agents. They are excellent nurses and doctors, they are caring teachers, they are psychologists, poets, authors, business leaders, sociologists, activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, accountants, artists, and more. But what I’ve discovered throughout my tenure here as president is that a Carlow education prepares graduates to be uniquely attuned to the potential of the human spirit. Our vision for the future is that Carlow University will be a preeminent, innovative Catholic University, renowned for providing transformational learning experiences in which students realize their full potential and become career-ready, ethical leaders committed to a just and merciful world. This comprehensive strategic plan will serve as Carlow’s roadmap for the next five years to realize our vision, and reflects the particular opportunities and challenges facing the University while embracing the entrepreneurial spirit of our founders. More importantly, it underpins our commitment to our students, the campus community, region, and beyond, to provide distinctive and exceptional learning experiences to all those who walk through our doors. We will integrate challenging and

innovative programs with individualized services that will enable students to think critically and creatively and will help them to develop the skills necessary to thrive in the ever-changing global workplace. This strategic plan, however, is only the beginning. It is the execution, the realization, and the implementation of our plan’s imperatives and goals that will make all the difference. To help us succeed, we’ve rallied the entire campus community to help forge a new path toward an inspiring future. The plan will do more than guide our choices—it will allow us to thrive as a higher education institution that is distinctive in our region and beyond. I am grateful to the hundreds of individuals who made contributions to this effort. They all feel a sense of pride and ownership in the strategic plan, and realize we must all work and innovate together to accomplish these ambitious, important goals. This is an exciting time for Carlow, and it is my privilege to share Transforming Lives. Transforming Our World with the broader community.

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In today’s higher education environment, the competition to be distinctive is ever-increasing, with greater public demands for affordability and accountability. This strategic plan, Transforming Lives. Transforming Our World: Strategic Plan 2014-2019, positions us to be leaders and succeed in this changing and competitive landscape.

Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD President, Carlow University


M I S S I O N S TAT E M E N T Ap p r o v e d b y t h e B o a r d o f Tr u s t e e s , M a r c h 2 0 1 5

Carlow University, rooted in its Catholic identity and embodying the heritage and values of the Sisters of Mercy, offers transformational educational opportunities for a diverse community of learners and empowers them to excel in their chosen work as compassionate, responsible leaders in the creation of a just and merciful world.

V I S I O N S TAT E M E N T Carlow University will be a preeminent, innovative, Catholic university, renowned for providing transformational learning experiences in which students realize their full potential and become career-ready, ethical leaders committed to a just and merciful world.

VA L U E S The identifying value of Carlow University is Mercy, encompassing all that we are and do as a University. Inspired by our God of Mercy, this value urges us to open our hearts to our students, our colleagues, and our world. In the tradition of action and contemplation, we seek practical ways of addressing need, and we engage in reflection in order to understand and integrate our experiences. Education offers us the tools to address unjust structures and dehumanizing situations. Each discipline provides a lens through which we can envision our place in our own personal transformation and that of the global community. The values of Hospitality, Service, Discovery, and Sacredness of Creation further expand our understanding of the power of Mercy to change our world.

HOSPITALITY In Hospitality we welcome the wholeness of each person, creating a space in our campus community for all individuals with their varied beliefs, cultures, orientations, and abilities. Openness to the gifts and perspectives of all creates a community rich in diversity and committed to inclusion.

SERVICE The value of Service calls us beyond ourselves to prioritize the needs of others over our own self-interest. Our efforts to identify and respond to the needs we see around us lead us to interact with persons and institutions in ways which are transformational. Our spirit of compassion leads us to practical action on behalf of those in need.

DISCOVERY Through Discovery we open ourselves to the totality of our human experience, to the educational enterprise, to our relationship with the Divine, and to the wonders of the world in which we find ourselves. Discovery energizes our intellectual curiosity and desire for learning. It leads us ever deeper in the engagement with our chosen discipline and engenders a spirit of awe at the complexity and variety of creation.

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SACREDNESS OF CREATION This value leads us to a respect for each person and for all of creation. In gratitude for the beauty and variety of our world and its inhabitants, we commit to a culture of sustainability and to the preservation of a world where all are reverenced and all may thrive.



At the core of Transforming Lives. Transforming Our World: Strategic Plan 2014-2019 is the recognition that change is necessary to succeed in educating today’s learners. The presence of a highly motivated and proficient workforce is essential to the economic strength of Pittsburgh and our nation. And yet, workers with the skill sets required to compete in today’s global economy are in short supply. As this demand for professional and highly adaptable employees has grown dramatically over the past decade, the problem has become all too clear: today’s employers require workers who have a significantly different educational preparation than those of the past. When our strategic plan is fully deployed, Carlow will be known for its exceptional preparation of eminently qualified graduates ready to pursue careers and contribute to the economic vitality of our region and beyond. Our goal is to be a place where students can overcome obstacles placed in their way—many times through no fault of their own—and become leaders and role models for the next generation. Our hope is that this process will repeat, many times over, until lives—and our world—are changed for the better. To build on Carlow University’s strengths and to ensure the continued excellence of Carlow, the strategic plan encompasses five imperatives, which underscore the institution’s top priorities, those on which our success depends.

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“We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.” Catherine McAuley


AC ADE M IC DI S T I N C T ION Carlow has been at the forefront of preparing career-ready, ethical leaders, and providing educational opportunities to students who might not otherwise be able to attend college. Carlow creates for each student a personalized learning environment, inside and outside the classroom. This educational experience empowers individuals and enables students/alumni to change the world for the better. Students do not just study here; they collaborate with gifted faculty and industry leaders. Carlow programs are rigorous yet supportive, and provide exceptional value for the cost. Carlow is an engine of educational innovation, equipping students with the skills necessary to be career-ready, ethical leaders prepared for the jobs of today, and for those that don’t yet exist. By empowering students to understand themselves as learners, Carlow University will enable its graduates to succeed—and thrive—in a work environment that today demands lifelong learning, critical thinking, and ethical leadership.

STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE: ACCELERATE GROWTH Carlow University will design a pathway for dynamic institutional growth by creating models for attracting, enrolling, retaining, and graduating students. To do this, we will: •  Create and execute aggressive enrollment management plans to maximize recruitment results for all prospective student demographics. • Create and support strategic processes to develop compelling academic programs and delivery formats based on market data and projections. • Increase brand recognition in order to raise the academic profile of the institution and positively impact the recruitment of students. • Increase enrollment numbers in all populations.

F O RT I F Y I N G C A R L O W ’ S F U T U R E

STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE: BUILD FINANCIAL HEALTH Carlow University will drive strategic, sustainable investment in the people, programs, and places that support the vision and priorities of Carlow University. To make this possible, we will: •  Enrich philanthropic support in order to expand opportunities and invest in growth. •  Cultivate an environment of fiscal responsibility by educating the Carlow community on building and sustaining a prosperous institution. •  Grow tuition revenue while expanding additional income streams. •  Refine infrastructure and policies to achieve efficient, effective, sustainable resource development and use.

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Higher education has come under greater public scrutiny regarding affordability and accountability. It is Carlow’s commitment to rely less on tuition and more on entrepreneurial ventures to develop new models for revenue generation and maintain our financial stability for the future. The advancement of Carlow University’s mission and vision are predicated on diversifying revenue streams and prudently stewarding existing ones.



Carlow is creating a bold new general education curriculum that celebrates the ideals of a liberal arts education while offering solid career preparation. When fully realized, this model will provide learners with the ability to transform their ubiquitous access to information into applicable knowledge and skills. Service-learning, undergraduate research, internships, and global experiences are all part of the new “classroom without walls” that mixes pedagogy with real world experiences—a cross-disciplinary environment where real learning thrives.

STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE: OPTIMIZE LEARNING Carlow University will embrace and implement high-impact learning practices that provide transformational learning experiences for students. To do this, we will: •  Offer structured professional development for faculty and staff to support an institutional culture of continuous learning and excellence and to improve student satisfaction and instructional effectiveness. •  Provide distinctive, outcome-based learning opportunities through diverse academic approaches, curricular and co-curricular programs, and career exploration focused on social responsibility, mercy, and justice.

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At Carlow we are guided by our vision to provide learning experiences for students to discover their full potential and become career-ready, ethical leaders. Our students share a moral commitment to making the world a better place for themselves and others, and we fuel their imperative by investing in small classes, passionate teachers, and a learning environment that facilitates a holistic, self-directed, lifelong journey of discovery and continual growth.

•  Develop a comprehensive approach to increase retention across all populations with strategies to foster students’ connections and success in and out of the classroom. •  Integrate intentional learning opportunities into students’ experiences such as internships, service-learning, study abroad, research, and partnerships to prepare careerready, ethical leaders.


Students, faculty, and staff work side-by-side to prepare more than 20,000 dehydrated, protein-rich meals for hungry men, women, and children in Burkina Faso.


STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE: INNOVATE THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS Carlow University will leverage community and business collaborations to our students’ advantage and ensure that local, societal, and global issues continuously inform our curriculum. To make this possible, we will: •  Vigorously pursue partnership opportunities that help the University achieve its vision and address the region’s educational and workforce needs. •  Serve as a community of collaborative engagement (characterized by internal partnerships) that uses research-based planning and agile decision-making to continually adapt and thrive. •  Secure new revenue streams, efficiencies, and reduced costs from sources such as partnerships, collaborations, grants, and auxiliary enterprises in order to boldly innovate. •  Establish innovative learning partnerships that result in increased enrollment and visibility as well as promote the development of career-ready, ethical leaders who are committed to a just and merciful world.

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Carlow will continue to innovate by leveraging partnerships that create transformational learning experiences for our community, always being informed by the next great need of the region and beyond. Because of its small size, agility, and values, Carlow has a well-known history of being able to rapidly catalyze new programs that respond to the needs of its students and the community. The University has benefitted from numerous collaborations that have informed these efforts.


TRANSFORMING C A R L O W U N I V E R S I T Y Positive changes are palpable in the air and around campus, with several campus-wide projects in the works that are coming to fruition as part of the strategic plan implementation. For example, the Presidential Task Force on Update of the Carlow University Campus Master Plan has been charged with providing recommendations to the president and the Board of Trustees for creating a roadmap for the future construction, renewal, and maintenance of Carlow’s campus, aligned with the University’s strategic plan. The task force will ensure alignment with our vision for the future and plans for strategic growth in the University’s student populations and academic programs.

STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE: CREATE TRANSFORMING ENVIRONMENTS Carlow University will develop a campus and culture that fosters holistic learning experiences and align our physical, collegial, and virtual spaces with our strategic vision. To do this, we will: •  Design University spaces that support the creation of community and that are aesthetically, environmentally, pedagogically, technologically, and financially consistent with the University mission, vision, values, philosophy, and strategies. •  Create pathways and eliminate barriers to information, services, and innovative opportunities. •  Establish a holistic approach to development efforts centered around a clearly articulated vision and set of goals that inspire contributions from a variety of funding sources. •  Create University spaces guided by needs, research, and innovative practices to enhance learning, support reflection, and engender student transformation.

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THE UNIVERSITY COMMONS is a top-to-bottom re-envisioning of the building currently known as Grace Library. The first major construction on campus in almost a decade, the 82,500-square foot University Commons, when completed in Fall 2015, will be the center of campus life and learning at Carlow University. It will play a vital role in educating students, combining elements of teaching, learning, research, health and wellness, collaboration, and technological support. The University Commons will be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building on campus.


As an introduction to service-learning, Carlow freshmen participate in Mercy Service Day which connects Southwestern Pennsylvania non-profit organizations to student volunteers for a special day of service.

Carlow University would like to sincerely thank the entire community for its part in making Transforming Lives. Transforming Our World: Strategic Plan 2014-2019 a reality. Special thanks to the more than 400 faculty, staff, students, alumni, members of the Board of Trustees, and Sisters of Mercy who participated in focus groups.

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A publication of the Office of the President 3333 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 800.333.2275

Profile for Carlow University

Carlow University | Strategic Plan 2014-2019  

"Transforming Lives. Transforming Our World: Strategic Plan 2014-2019" builds on the institution’s strong heritage of determination and inno...

Carlow University | Strategic Plan 2014-2019  

"Transforming Lives. Transforming Our World: Strategic Plan 2014-2019" builds on the institution’s strong heritage of determination and inno...