Strategic Planning

President’s Message: The Next Chapter

In recent years, the fundamental driving force guiding the University has been the 2015–2020 strategic plan, which focused on enhancing the value of an FDU degree and providing greater access and opportunities for students from all walks of life. That plan was the essential roadmap for our recent progress and led to key initiatives such as creating and strengthening centers of excellence, restructuring academic units to better align programs across campuses, offering new and innovative programs including more online options, reducing tuition costs and providing discounts and significant financial aid to help students and their families, and improving and adding new facilities that better serve students and make our campuses more attractive.

We have built a very strong foundation and forged impressive milestones, but we have only scratched the surface of our potential. Many goals were fulfilled and many others are ongoing, and new goals have now emerged as well. So with pride in our achievements and ambition to grow even stronger, we now begin our next strategic planning process, which will pave the way for even greater accomplishments ahead.

Higher education is facing a period of great change and uncertainty as many continue to question the value and relevance of the current collegiate business model. While the challenges seem as endless as the opportunities, our resources are not, so it is critically important that we make the best strategic decisions that will guide our future path and closely align our resources, efforts, and priorities. This means we must continue to plan carefully and purposefully. We must be proactive and be bold in our thinking to ensure our institution will remain in the forefront of excellence in higher education and continue to provide tremendous value and transformative impact for our students.

The strategic planning process involves many contributors from throughout the University community, and we will welcome everyone’s input and insights as we gather information, assess the University and the external landscape, and create our plan. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to all those involved in the process and thank them for their dedication. I also want to encourage everyone to add their voice and contribute in some form. We all have an important role to play.

The prior strategic plan set the stage and put many key pieces in place. Our next strategic plan will build on these accomplishments, define the challenges and priorities ahead, and guide the way to further prosperity and success. Together we will create an indelible legacy. Together we will navigate these difficult times and bring greater definition and distinction to the value we offer, and together we will enable future generations of students to transform their lives.

Christopher A. Capuano, Ph.D.


Strategic Planning Process

Fairleigh Dickinson University has embarked on the development of a new institutional strategic plan for the next 3-5 years. The 2015–2020 strategic plan called for “a paradigm shift toward 21st-century higher education that emphasizes contemporary teaching methodologies, transformative learning, and student learning outcomes.” In that plan, among key efforts, FDU recommitted to accessible and affordable education that provides lasting value to students and their families. This next plan will build on those initiatives and guide the future pathway. Students, society and higher education are all changing, and FDU continues to face critical challenges but has important and exciting opportunities.

The new strategic planning process will engage the whole University community and its stakeholders on all campuses in designing a bold new future for FDU. The process is being guided by an FDU Steering Committee appointed by President Christopher A. Capuano and the professional support of Keeling & Associates, LLC.

In this strategic planning process, the University will:

  • Harvest and use reliable internal, comparative and contextual data to inform planning discussions, analyses and decisions — the new strategic plan must be rigorously data-driven;
  • Study both challenges and opportunities closely in order to develop a plan that is both aspirational and practical;
  • Clarify the long-term vision, identity and strategy for the University and each of its campuses — different campuses may have different purposes and priorities but must be aligned within one university;
  • Define measurable goals and objectives through which to achieve the intended strategy and institutional priorities; and
  • Create a feasible implementation plan that incorporates sound financial planning and provides the framework and guidelines for FDU to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.

Strategic Planning Timeline

August–September 2021

  • Project launch; work and communication plans
  • Review of data and documents; analysis of environmental factors and market conditions
  • Formation of Strategic Planning Steering Committee
  • Initial interviews — University leadership and Board of Trustees

October–December 2021

  • Broad community engagement — interviews, forums and surveys
  • Data analysis, information synthesis and development of key strategic themes
  • Review findings, analysis and planning themes

January–May 2022

  • Determine Priorities, Goals and Objectives
  • Complete Strategic Plan (Jan–Feb 2022)
  • Implementation Planning (Mar–Apr 2022)
  • Final Strategic and Implementation Plans

Note: The draft plan was presented to the Board of Trustees in June 2022. Further analysis and revisions are now being made, and the final plan will be submitted to the board for approval.  

Strategic Planning Steering Committee

The charge of the Fairleigh Dickinson University Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) is to: (1) provide direction, guidance and oversight throughout the planning process; (2) engage members of the University community inclusively in interviews, forums, surveys and other activities essential to the success of that process; (3) review summaries and analyses of information and data collected through the process; (4) determine overall institutional strategic priorities for the planning period; (5) develop draft and final strategic goals and objectives; and (6) oversee the creation of the final strategic planning document, which will include a detailed, comprehensive implementation plan. The SPSC will serve as the primary liaison between the University and its planning consultants, Keeling & Associates, LLC (K&A).

The SPSC will convene regularly from October 2021–February 2022. The chair and/or full committee will meet with K&A throughout the process. Members of the SPSC will participate in a strategic planning retreat, tentatively scheduled for mid-January 2022. By February 2022, the SPSC will recommend a draft strategic plan (priorities, goals and objectives) to the president, respond to the president’s review, and provide a final draft of the plan for presentation to the Board of Trustees in February 2022.

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee Members

  • Robert Pignatello (Chair), Senior Vice President for University Operations
  • Michael Avaltroni, Dean, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Uchenna Baker, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
  • Constance Bygrave, Associate Professor of Administrative Science (Vancouver Campus)
  • Deirdre Collier, Associate Professor of Accounting (Florham Campus)
  • Hania Ferrara, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration
  • Catherine Kelley, Associate Provost for Educational Resources and Assessment
  • Kalyan Mondal, Professor of Electrical Engineering (Metro Campus)
  • Giridhar Nandikotkur, Assistant Professor of Physics (Metro Campus)
  • James Salierno, Professor of Biology (Florham Campus)
  • Wilfred Zerbe, Vancouver Campus Executive

Strategic Planning Working Groups

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPSC) has formed working groups composed of both SPSC members and other faculty, staff, administrators and students, as appropriate, to focus in depth on specific areas of strategic importance (e.g., academic programs; the student experience; diversity, equity and inclusion; financial stability and institutional sustainability; student enrollment and retention; infrastructure, etc.). The working groups will review data, confer with campus partners and recommend priorities that the SPSC will consider.

Enrollment and Retention

Chair: Luke Schultheis, Vice President for Enrollment, Planning and Effectiveness

Charge: The Enrollment and Retention Working Group will study and make recommendations to the SPSC regarding questions, concerns and opportunities related to recruitment, enrollment, and retention of all students; the University’s overall enrollment strategy; and enrollment and retention policies, practices and methods.

Organizational Culture, Climate and Institutional Diversity 

Chair: Jason Amore, Senior Vice President for University Advancement

Charge: The Organizational Culture, Climate and Institutional Diversity Working Group will study and make recommendations to the SPSC regarding questions, concerns and opportunities related to the University’s internal and external relations and organizational culture, including workplace and campus climate, faculty and staff morale, alumni engagement, sense of community and institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

Finance, Infrastructure and Institutional Sustainability

Chair: Hania Ferrara, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration

Charge: The Finance, Infrastructure and Institutional Sustainability Working Group will study and make recommendations to the SPSC regarding questions, concerns and opportunities related to finance, infrastructure and institutional sustainability.

Academic Vision/Academic Programs

Chair: Michael Avaltroni, Dean, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Charge: The Academic Working Group will study and make recommendations to the SPSC regarding questions, concerns and opportunities related to the vision and direction, portfolio, quality and distinctiveness of the University’s academic programs.

Student Experience

Chair: Uchenna Baker, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Charge: The Student Experience Working Group will study and make recommendations to the SPSC regarding questions, concerns and opportunities related to the student experience on all of FDU’s campuses — engagement; residential life; diversity and inclusion; activities and athletics; and community, belonging and pride.

Student Advisory

Chair: Craig Mourton, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs

Charge: The Student Advisory Working Group will provide ideas, offer suggestions and bring the student perspective to the work of the SPSC throughout the strategic planning process.

Community Input

An important part of developing the strategic plan is gathering input from all members of the FDU community. Various forums are being arranged for community members. A forum for faculty and staff was held on November 10; a recording of that forum is downloadable for viewing. A forum for students was held on November 18.

In addition, our Strategic Planning consultants, Keeling & Associates (K&A), conducted a survey of students, faculty, staff and administrators, which collected their ideas, opinions and recommendations.