Below are the Task Force's internal analysis of the top 10 issues facing higher education from the Deloitte's "Making the Grade" report.
Internal Analysis and priorities levels are based upon the following stakeholder activities:
- Students: Aggregate results from student focus group in April 2012.
- Board: Aggregate results from survey conducted at March 2012 Board meeting and Task Force meeting with members of the board's executive committee.
- Institutional Leadership: Aggregate results from interviews with VPs/Deans March to May 2012.
- Task Force: Results from research and discussions.
- "Over budget and underfunded: As funding declines, cost management is key"
Ten years ago, in the face of another budgetary crisis, Loyola implemented several policies to help manage costs. For the past decade, these policies have helped Loyola become an efficient, cost-conscious University. Many other universities, in fact, now are facing the challenges Loyola faced in the early 2000s.
Budgets at the University are fiscally conservative and created with a margin. Scholarship programs are the second-largest line item—and they've grown recently because of the recession. The University has been able to replace older facilities with energy-efficient buildings, pay down debt, and provide an annual cost of living raise. All of this has occurred while net tuition revenue has increased.
Cost management will continue to be critically important, and the University has plans to create further efficiencies by automating additional labor-intensive processes and developing benchmarks for our costs per program.
- "The rivalry intensifies: Competition to attract the best students heats up"
Loyola, like other universities, faces the risk of a future drop in enrollment due to a decrease in population of traditional-aged students. This changing demographic will lead to fierce competition among universities as they try to achieve their enrollment targets.
To attract the best and brightest students, Loyola has had to increase the size of its merit scholarships, which drives up the discount rate. Additionally, the University's low-income students have had to borrow ever-larger amounts for their education. Going forward, it will be important to create the right mix of students through a strategy whereby we lower the merit aid offered and reduce the number of high-need students borrowing large sums. Planned increases in the number of international students should help create a better mix of paying vs. subsidized students.
Because traditional undergraduate enrollment is expected to remain constant, Loyola's biggest opportunity for growth is in the adult education market.
- "Setting priorities: The danger of making decisions in the dark"
In 2009 the Board approved a strategic plan that charts a course for Loyola through 2015. This report has allowed the University to re-examine and adjust its priorities based on the current environment and progress made to date.
The University has identified these four areas of excellence that are Loyola's differentiating assets:
- Excellence in the premier undergraduate experience, with a focus on core curriculum, engaged learning, research, service, ethics, and student development.
- Excellence in health/healthcare programs, with a focus on leadership development, especially for Catholic health care institutions.
- Excellence through internationalization, with a focus on global awareness, in terms of student recruitment, faculty interests, study abroad and exchange opportunities.
- Excellence in urban environmental sustainability, with a focus on academic programs, updated facilities, and the creation of the Institute for Urban Environmental Sustainability.
Investments will continue to be made in these areas so Loyola becomes a distinguished leader in each.
In addition, efforts to advance Law, Business, and Medicine/Nursing are underway. New facilities are planned that will make them state-of-the art schools within a few years. Each school has identified priorities that will continue to advance their respective reputations and the University.
- "Moving at the speed of cyberspace: Technology upgrades are needed across the board"
Loyola has untapped opportunities in online adult learning. Many pieces are in place to expand the University's online offerings; therefore, it is critical that all schools continue to participate in the development and implementation of a comprehensive institutional online strategy.
Each of the professional schools has developed online degrees and certificate programs, and the College of Arts and Sciences has added online undergraduate courses.
Loyola is well-positioned with investments made in technology to support financial and records management, student enrollment, and advising. Additionally, a new data warehouse with business analysis tools will make information available to support data-driven decision-making.
Loyola has untapped opportunities in online adult learning, and many pieces are in place to expand the University's online offerings.
- "Rethinking infrastructure: A renewed focus on asset optimization"
Academic spaces and residential living environments have been or are in the process of being upgraded to provide high-quality facilities at all Loyola campuses. Each campus is near completion of any deferred or lagging capital asset needs.
Spaces are fully utilized and revenue potential through rental is maximized. The improvements to infrastructure have been advanced with the highest standards of environmental efficiency allowing for significant energy and utility cost savings.
- "Linking programs to outcomes: Where training and market demand intersect"
The University has not consistently and clearly communicated the value of a Loyola education. Better career placement data for graduates and career preparation services are needed. An integrated communication and marketing strategy will be essential to clearly articulate the value of a Loyola education to various stakeholders.
LUC is well-positioned (with some enhancements) to prepare undergraduates for jobs and graduate school. These enhancements include programs for internships, undergraduate research, campus employment, fellowships, and electronic portfolios.
- "The best and brightest: Attracting and retaining talented faculty"
The University's locations in Chicago and around the world provide an advantage for the recruitment of talented faculty. Loyola's mission and reputation for being a good employer also help attract outstanding employees.
Additionally, market forces are favorable with a large pool of excellent faculty available. The University's faculty retention is remarkably stable, perhaps again, because of the market.
The opportunity at Loyola is to help those who would like to retire to do so and define a faculty rewards system that motivates faculty—both old and new—to contribute to strategic priorities.
- "A sustainable future: Enhancing environmental performance"
Recent improvements to campus buildings have helped cut Loyola's energy footprint in half. In addition, the University created a Department of Environmental Science for academic programs in 2010, and it hired a University Sustainability Director in 2012 to help to build a more environmentally friendly campus.
University resources supporting sustainability initiatives will be reorganized into the Institute for Urban Environmental Sustainability in 2013. This new organization, which maximizes existing resources, will be located in new and renovated facilities that will include academic offices, classrooms, a greenhouse, a clean energy lab, and a green café.
- "Education for all: Tackling diversity, accessibility, and affordability"
Loyola would like to continue to diversify its student population by enrolling more non-traditional students, namely international students and adult learners. Refining the University's enrollment and financial aid strategies will be necessary to attract new students, manage the discount rate, and recruit undergraduates on campus who see Loyola as their first choice.
Nearly 30 percent of Loyola students receive Pell Grants, and the University's location in Chicago helps attract a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. By maintaining or cutting costs, offering affordable tuition, and shifting our recruitment strategies, Loyola can attract diverse and talented students.
- "Regulations and reporting: New responsibilities require better disclosure"
The University maintains a commitment to being transparent with all stakeholders and is in good standing with all audit, accrediting, and regulatory agencies. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association selected Loyola in 2011 to participate in a pilot accreditation process that focused on improvements in the learning environment based on measurable learning outcomes.
Additionally, the University enjoys good relationships with the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Society of Jesus, which will continue to benefit our Jesuit Catholic identity.