2020 Vision Shows Foresight

The enrollment objective of 2,020 students by 2020 is critical to OWU’s future

President Rock Jones lends a hand to Bree Riggle ’18 on move-in day Aug. 20.

Eighteen months ago, Provost Chuck Stinemetz convened a faculty summit on the future of Ohio Wesleyan University and its academic program. The faculty looked closely at emerging trends affecting American higher education, including shifting demographics, risings costs paired with stagnant family incomes, increasing emphasis on outcomes and career preparation, and ways in which the OWU curriculum should evolve to fulfill our historic mission as a liberal arts university while responding to the changing needs and expectations of students and their families. The faculty convened in a second summit in January of 2016 to continue the conversation and to explore the question of the appropriate size of Ohio Wesleyan as we move toward the middle of the 21st century.

In February of 2016, the Board of Trustees met in a retreat on campus where they were joined by faculty for this important strategic conversation. The outcome of the retreat was a commitment to increase enrollment at OWU to 2,020 students by 2020. This has become known on campus as our 2020 Vision.

Nothing about this objective is easy. It requires careful planning and execution. To that end, the board and faculty identified five pillars for the 2020 Vision: creation of new and enhancement of existing programs, improvement of the student experience outside of the classroom, enrollment initiatives including growing international student and transfer student recruitment, renewal of the physical campus, and development of a sustainable financial model.

Much has been accomplished in a short period of time. New academic programs are designed to create bridges between our liberal arts curriculum and professional preparation. In the past year the faculty has approved new majors in business administration, computational neuroscience, data analytics, nutrition, communication (tracks in media production studies; organizational, interpersonal, and group communication; and strategic corporate communication), social justice, and special education, as well as a petition for accreditation to offer a Bachelor of Science degree. This is a remarkable set of accomplishments in a short period of time.

In response to the need to address cost and to allow students to complete academic work in the summer while engaged in internships, jobs, undergraduate research or other programs anywhere in the world, OWU offered a portion of its summer session online this past summer. Our summer enrollment increased 30 percent over the previous year, and we will double the number of online summer offerings in 2017.

Much has been accomplished in a short period of time. New academic programs are designed to create bridges between our liberal arts curriculum and professional preparation.

In the coming months, we will develop strategies to dramatically rethink our approach to career planning and development. We intend to engage students from their earliest weeks on campus in programs that enable them to think deeply about their passions and to align their academic work more directly with their aspirations for meaningful lives and fulfilling careers. We will place even greater emphasis on internships and practical, real-world experiences through The OWU Connection.

This is a time of bold and aspirational thinking at OWU. The University is blessed both by deeply dedicated, innovative faculty, and by alumni and friends who provide the philanthropic foundation that allows Ohio Wesleyan to continue to educate the next generation of moral leaders for a global society.

In this edition of the magazine, you have the opportunity to read about the work of faculty and students in a research laboratory, to learn more about the 2020 Vision, and to hear from the recent Women of Wesleyan weekend, a reminder of the deep connections that exist within the OWU family. I encourage you to consider your place in these stories and to share your thoughts as we work together to advance Ohio Wesleyan’s noble mission in these rapidly changing times.

Rock Jones
President, Ohio Wesleyan University
Twitter: @owu_rockjones

Return to the Winter 2016-17 OWU Magazine