Redesigning Simmons: The Strategy for 2022

The vision for Simmons’ next 100 years, articulated below, is for the university to “become a beacon of leadership in the world of higher education; a resource to our nation and world; known for our expertise in fields which improve the human condition; sought out for the findings of our highly reputable research and seen as the global expert in educating women for their own empowerment and leadership.” The Strategy for 2022 provides a roadmap to guide the University toward making that vision a reality. Top strategic priorities include:

Highlight and build signature Simmons strengths in a sustainable structure. (Academic Redesign)

1.1. Redesign Simmons's academic organization to optimize learning and minimize redundancy (reducing general costs to reinvest in teaching and learning).

1.2. Build curricula and programs.

  • Finish development and launch of PLAN and revision of the Honors program.
  • Continue launch of flexible online programs to attract new graduate student populations: Nursing, Social Work, Library and Information Science, Behavior Analysis, MBA/HCMBA, Public Health.
  • Enhance Simmons's brand in leadership.
    • Expand Simmons Leadership Conference.
    • Explore Simmons Institute for Gender and Leadership.
  • Increase faculty and student local and global community engagement.
    • Expand study abroad opportunities and build "globalize Simmons" plan.
    • Increase service learning opportunities and develop institutional community engagement plan.
  • Expand student research opportunities.

1.3. Invest in faculty and faculty development.

  • Develop academic technology support for online and on campus programs.
  • Systematically promote Simmons's faculty expertise and intellectual content as a resource for media and the public.

Improve 4- and 6-year undergraduate graduation rates and graduate student on-time completion rates; increase student satisfaction. (Student Support Redesign)

2.1. Design and launch undergraduate academic support and academic advising model and programs.

  • Establish and measure best practices in student-centeredness.
  • Develop and apply retention models to identify opportunities to improve admission models and increase retention and graduation rates.
  • Optimize the organizational structure of academic support units.
  • Revise the undergraduate advising system and integrate technology into the system.

2.2. Expand on-campus undergraduate student life (cf. Facilities Redesign).

2.3. Expand Simmons's undergraduate recruiting pool geographically and demographically, including athletic recruits.

2.4. Design and launch new career services model.

  • Engage alumnae as mentors, internship providers, employers.

2.5. Design and launch new graduate student services model (aligned with academic redesign, coordinated with online graduate student services and with build-out of online graduate programs).

  • Develop and apply retention models to identify opportunities to increase graduate student retention and graduation rates.

Foster a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive community. (Community Culture Redesign)

3.1. Establish leadership and responsibility for developing a philosophy & mission that fosters diversity and inclusion at Simmons University.

  • Develop a formal, universally accepted definition for diversity at Simmons College.
  • Finalize elements of the Diversity Strategic Plan.

3.2. Create a campus climate, a welcoming culture, and clear policies to ensure that each member of our community experiences regard for their humanity, diversity, dignity, and contributions—and that there are clear protocols for action when policies are violated.

  • Clearly define diversity goals for faculty and staff hiring and for student recruitment.
  • Develop and implement a bias protocol for the University.

3.3. Increase the knowledge and skills of faculty, staff, and students to meet the challenges that come with a diverse community.

  • Decide on a shared baseline of knowledge about diversity and inclusion across the community and create appropriate training for faculty, staff, and students.

3.4. Review the curriculum and co-curriculum in order to enhance, develop, and implement programs and activities designed to foster inclusive excellence for all constituencies and enhance diversity in all its forms.

3.5. Design and implement a comprehensive and collective system of responsibility, accountability, and recognition for all diversity and inclusion efforts to sustain a campus culture that promotes our values and mission.

Support the instructional core effectively and efficiently. (Institutional Support Redesign)

4.1. Reconfigure administrative services to make it easier to do business with/at Simmons.

  • Review and revise Academic Technology support (cf. Academic Redesign).
  • Implement Workday.
  • Review for revision: Technology Services, Public Safety, Employee Recruitment, and/or other administrative services.

4.2. Enhance systems, infrastructure, policies, and practices to provide timely and relevant transactional and other decision-support information to administration and faculty.

4.3. (Re-)Engage alumnae and friends with the University (cf. Community Culture and Student Support).

4.4. Build infrastructure for next fundraising campaign.

Build a 21st-century Learning and Living Environment. (Facilities Redesign)

5.1. Revise Institutional Master Plan and develop long-term real estate plan.

5.2. Complete reconstruction of Daly Field.

5.3. Plan and break ground on a Science Center.

5.4. Renew residential facilities and student residential life (cf. Student Support).

  • Assess and revise campus dining experience.

5.5. Develop space plan for academic redesign (cf. Academic Redesign).

5.6. Optimize year-round facilities utilization.

Improve financial stability and flexibility (Financial Redesign)

6.1. Sustain an operating margin of at least $1 million.

6.2. Maintain cash balance of approximately $30 million.

Progress Updates

  • Simmons College became Simmons University in September 2018.
  • Simmons launched its undergraduate core curriculum as PLAN — Purpose, Leadership, ActioN.
  • The Masters in Public Health was the first new graduate program to launch in the University's suite of online Masters: the MS in Nursing, Family PracticeMSWMS in Behavior Analysis; and MS in Library and Information Science. These programs have national reach and more than doubled Simmons's professional masters enrollments since the launch in 2013 of the MSN.
  • A new undergraduate academic advising model is in place and supported by Starfish, software designed to support students, faculty and staff focused on student success.
  • Space in Lefavour Hall was renovated and opened as the Student Support Center, bringing together Academic Advising, Disability Services, the Writing Center, Tutorial Center and Career Education Center.
  • Simmons continues to advance its efforts regarding diversity and inclusion:
    • The Multicultural Center opened on January 31, 2018.
    • In September 2018, Simmons hired a Senior Vice President for Organizational Culture, Inclusion and Equity, Debra Perez, who reports to the President. Debra has created an office and a strategic plan.
    • We are incorporating inclusive excellence as a standard practice in recruitment and retention.
  • The University has maintained fiscal discipline, achieving operating surpluses, reducing and refinancing debt, and maintain appropriate cash balances.
  • In the "Making Education Work" comprehensive fundraising campaign, Simmons raised $120 million by the close of the campaign in 2015.
  • In 2018, President Drinan announced a 15-year extension with 2U, a private company that has partnered with Simmons since 2012 to provide technology and services that power online graduate degree programs. Simmons offers five online masters degrees in partnership with 2U, with students from all 50 states enrolled. 

Richard Voos

Assistant Provost for Planning, Assessment, and Accreditation