With just 2-4 percent of female high school seniors indicating an interest in single-sex education, it is critical for Simmons to offer a very strong, competitive education to these women. A transformative, single-sex education is one of the most significant differentiators we can offer compared to many of the colleges to which our students apply.
All-College Convocation — This is a great example of a long-held tradition that has been enhanced. This fall, Convocation was held on the main campus for the first time and involved a two-part ceremony inviting the entire community to celebrate the opening of the academic year.
Founder’s Day Celebration — Each fall, Simmons celebrates the birthday of our founder, John Simmons. In 2010 we added two new features to Founder’s Day: the unveiling of class flags for each undergraduate class, and an essay contest about John Simmons and his goals for the College.
Phi Beta Kappa — Simmons is in the process of applying for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter for the college. The nation’s oldest academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa celebrates excellence in liberal arts and sciences.
Study Abroad — The Study Abroad office recently has begun to ramp up its efforts to comprehensively evaluate study abroad offerings. The goal is to provide as many students as possible with a transformative academic experience that is strongly integrated with curriculum.
Financial Aid — We have enhanced the financial aid packages that we offer to the strongest students. These are students we believe will be leaders at Simmons and will bring a breadth of diverse perspectives and experiences to the College.
Despite her fears, in the fall of 2006 Jill Hrubes began working toward her bachelor’s degree at Simmons. She started out taking two courses and juggling a part- time job, caring for three children, and making a long commute from New Hampshire. Despite all of the challenges, Jill says, "I found that my opinions as an older student and parent were sought out... I remember particularly my Gender and Politics class where students would ask me to give a 'mom's opinion'."
During the next two years, Jill studied full-time and earned a major in political science with a concentration in social justice. Jill was not the only one transformed by the experience; reflecting back she says, "As a single mom, my going to school has had a transformative impact on my three sons. They saw me doing homework, and placing such a high value on education." And they saw her graduate in May 2008!
When asked if she had any advice for prospective Dix Scholars, Jill said, "Once you make the decision to attend college, push through — I’ve had crazy schedules but it is so worth pushing yourself toward your goal. My goal was to obtain a bachelor’s degree before I turn 50 years old. Remember your education takes a significant level of commitment, but focus on the baby steps and positive direction to get to your goals."
Adult women over age 24 are the largest and fastest growing segment of potential new students at Simmons. For-profit colleges and universities are aggressively and effectively marketing to this group of students. However, our expertise and history with adult women students positions us very well to expand this already-popular program.
In order to attract more non-traditional undergraduate students, Simmons needs to understand what motivates this very diverse population, and what we can do to make the College more appealing. Some proposals being considered include:
Today's students want more value and career-readiness from their private education. This is the time to take full advantage of the strengths and competitive advantages that Simmons has in our strong graduate programs. With all five graduate schools and programs now located on the main academic campus, we are situated to provide more collaborative offerings.
Simmons already has a number of programs that facilitate undergraduate to graduate degrees. These current programs offer undergraduate-to-graduate degrees over the course of five to six years (typically called 4 +1 or 4 +2) and include: a History/ Archives Management Dual Degree from CAS and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, a B.A. to MBA program from the School of Management, and several R.N. to B.S.N. programs with area hospitals.
Simmons is currently working through proposals to launch a number of new 3+1 programs where students could obtain their bachelors' and masters' degrees in as few as four years. These new options include a new B.S.W. to M.S.W. from the School of Social Work, a combined B.A. in Political Science with an M.A. in Public Policy, and a B.S. in Computer Science and M.S. in Library and Information Science.
In order to remain competitive, Simmons has to provide more flexible times, schedules, and learning media for students. Online options also can serve as an additional revenue source, can help Simmons expand beyond our current geographic boundaries, and can assist in sustaining growth in programs where we are physically at capacity.
"This program, and others like it in the future, will allow us to leverage the existing 'gems' at Simmons so that we increase our reach, enhance our reputation, meet market demand, and preserve the best of Simmons."
— Gerald Koocher, Associate Provost
Simmons is taking part in a unique partnership this year, launching an online Master of Health Administration (MHA) program. The MHA degree for health system pharmacists will be offered completely online by Simmons in partnership with GlobalHealth Education, founded by alumna Deborah Kann Schwarzberg '76.
The pilot takes our traditional, on-campus 48-credit program and speeds up the process by offering 10 three-credit courses. The accelerated program recognizes the fundamentals included in the Doctor of Pharmacy degree supplemented by course work completed as part of the online Pharmacy Leadership Academy (PLA) developed by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Research and Education Foundation. This unique program is facilitated by GlobalHealth Education and its exclusive alliance with the ASHP Foundation and the PLA.
One benefit is that current health system pharmacists will get customized coursework, delivered online, in a fraction of the time that a traditional MHA would take.
At Simmons, we always have valued and promoted our connection to students. We now want to improve upon this value, and to change our culture into one that is truly student-centered.
The first step in creating a student-centered culture is to know who our students are. This might seem simple, but it is not. Many students — both graduate and undergraduate — have other demands on their time, including family and full-time jobs, and many students are feeling extremely stressed by these accumulated responsibilities. Simmons needs to have a full understanding of students' academic, cultural, and social backgrounds. We need to understand their existing skill sets and knowledge base, we need to understand why students choose Simmons, and what they expect from us.
Strategy 2015 provides a platform for us to enhance this objective in a more comprehensive way. Examples include:
The Making Education Work Campaign is focused on:
Participating in the Campaign is a powerful way to demonstrate a personal commitment to our students and faculty.
Over the course of the next four years, Simmons will make targeted investments in support of all five strategic opportunities outlined here; gifts to the Making Education Work Campaign help make those investments possible.
Gifts to the Campaign are already creating new scholarships, funding stipends for study abroad and internships, supporting faculty research and curriculum development, and providing seed funding for innovative initiatives — all vital to the transformative learning that is our mission.
Working together and staying focused on the tremendous potential of the Making Education Work Campaign and Strategy 2015, there is no limit to what the Simmons community can achieve.