NJCU, in next critical step, announces Strategic Enrollment Plan

10-point guideline aims to shape university’s efforts to attract, retain students moving forward

Be the bachelor’s degree completion institution of choice for Hudson County residents … be the most transfer-friendly public university in the state … consistently increase completion rates year-over-year for all students.

These are just some of the 10 goals New Jersey City University set for itself in the institution’s first Strategic Enrollment Plan.

Viewed as the next critical strategic planning phase of the university’s commitment to its refreshed mission and vision, school officials say the 36-page plan (see it here) has a keen focus on addressing the enrollment challenges facing higher education institutions across the state and nation.

Similarly to the Academic Master Plan, NJCU’s Strategic Enrollment Plan is driven by four new institutional strategic pillars:

  • Student success and retention;
  • Community engagement;
  • Culture of continuous improvement;
  • Financial stewardship and responsibility.

NJCU interim President Andrés Acebo praised the importance of the introduction of the Strategic Enrollment Plan.

“At NJCU, we are best positioned to tackle higher education’s challenges of a shrinking enrollment market and often limited resources, by developing programs that stabilize or increase enrollment, dismantling traditional obstacles for transfer students, and improving retention rates of our existing students,” he said. “The Strategic Enrollment Plan guides our work through strategic, data-driven decisions around our students’ entire enrollment life cycle — from recruitment and admission, to retention, and, ultimately, graduation. At the same time, the SEP focuses on our institution’s critical role in the region and in the local community as a beacon of aspiration and hope.”

Key measurable organizational actions and key performance indicators were developed to achieve the following 10 SEP goals:

  1. Be the bachelor’s degree completion institution of choice for Hudson County residents;
  2. Be the most transfer-friendly public university in the state;
  3. Consistently increase completion rates year-over-year for all students;
  4. Provide the most labor market-relevant graduate programs for underrepresented professionals in New Jersey;
  5. Provide relevant and engaging workforce development programs focused on the needs of a global workforce;
  6. Understand and analyze the higher education marketplace in terms of competing university program offerings;
  7. Strategically respond to market forces for undergraduate, graduate and noncredit programming;
  8. Strengthen our identity by providing student support services throughout the student life cycle;
  9. Drive program investment decisions according to program return on investment;
  10. Increase and diversify noncredit programming to respond to workforce needs in New Jersey.

The SEP is a product of NJCU’s commitment to shared governance. Designed by the Division of Academic Affairs, the SEP was authored by the Office of the Provost with collaborative input provided by hundreds of members of the university community coming together during the Fall 2023 semester to articulate guidelines and goals for recruitment, admission and retention of NJCU’s students.

The Division of Academic Affairs is the university’s parent unit that oversees enrollment management and university admissions.

The plan will serve as a basis for budgeting decisions. The plan also discusses historical enrollment challenges with applications and transfer students, and two, four and six-year graduation rate improvements, while presenting data surrounding each area. It also offers opportunities to engage with the university’s largest sending districts and reviews the demand for NJCU’s most attractive academic programs.

Provost Donna Breault said the plan is another example of the joint effort going into the university.

“The entire NJCU community is working together to address the challenges of declining enrollment,” she said. “Our Strategic Enrollment Plan was built upon our shared commitment to the mission of the university, while being guided by strategic use of data. The Strategic Enrollment Plan captures this work and our commitment to continue to grow the NJCU community. It represents the vision and insights of the hundreds of faculty, staff and community members who helped draft it.”

José Balda, NJCU’s assistant vice president for university admissions, said the plan is a milestone moment.

“We’re thrilled to unveil our Strategic Enrollment Plan, marking a pivotal moment for our institution,” he said. “This plan outlines our vision and objectives for attracting, retaining and supporting students as they embark on their educational journey with us. It’s a testament to our unwavering commitment to student-centered excellence. With this plan as our guide, we are confident that our institution will continue to flourish and make a lasting impact in the lives of our students and the communities we serve.”