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PC200 Strategic Plan – Preamble

PC200: Embarking on Our Second Century, Building from Strength, Enhancing Our Distinction

Providence College is a vibrant Catholic, Dominican institution of higher learning in which the community is committed to academic excellence and fostering a loving, diverse, and inclusive living and learning environment. The College stands at the threshold of its second century, poised to step boldly into the future, guided by an ambitious new strategic plan, PC200. The Plan illuminates a path that will distinguish Providence College as a nationally recognized, residential, primarily undergraduate-focused, premier Catholic college, with an expanded national recruiting presence and an ever-increasing academic reputation.

More than a year in its development, PC200 is a 10-year Strategic Plan initiated by College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. and the College’s trustees to set the stage for Providence College’s second century. A 17-member steering committee, its work supplemented by the efforts of a 20-member Future of Higher Education Research Team, has led the community-based creation of this living document. More than 1,000 stakeholders, including the President’s Senior Cabinet, faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, and members of the Dominican community, have provided input.

At a time when higher education has faced scrutiny for its value proposition amid financial pressures and new forms of competition, Providence College has maintained high academic standards, solidified its fiscal position, and retained its focus on a contemporary liberal arts, residential education for undergraduates. As a result, there are many assets on which to build.

PC200 addresses many of the challenges facing higher education institutions, including the need for a distinctive value proposition, careful fiscal management, and an evolving recruitment strategy that accounts for expected demographic shifts affecting the traditional college-age population. It is a strong vision, a sustainable vision — one that ensures that the College leverages its strengths and focuses on areas with the greatest potential impact. PC’s educational experience will continue to equal that of larger prestigious institutions in a smaller, more intimate setting, thereby providing students with greater opportunities for relationship-building and leadership experiences.

While more and more institutions are questioning the value of a liberal arts education, Providence College emphasizes and celebrates the deep and unique connections among the humanities, fine arts, social sciences, natural sciences (i.e., the liberal arts), and professional courses of study. A PC education integrates extensive interdisciplinary learning with personal, professional, and spiritual development that enable students to flourish and to live meaningful lives.

The signature Development of Western Civilization Program (DWC) exemplifies PC’s unique approach to liberal arts education. Team-taught by faculty from numerous disciplines and completed by each student, DWC engages students and faculty in an exploration of humanity’s most important questions. An important initiative of PC200 involves innovation and reinvigoration in DWC, as well as in the Liberal Arts Honors Program.

Uniquely, PC is the only undergraduate institution in North America founded and administered by Dominican Friars, associating it with an 800-year-old intellectual tradition. The Dominican intellectual tradition that has shaped the College is grounded in a passionate pursuit of truth, often through the scholastic practice of disputatio, wherein faculty and students consider many and divergent points of an argument in seeking the truth. PC enjoys a robust level of religious presence and engagement that is uncommon at American Catholic colleges and universities.

Moreover, the Dominican presence at PC will continue to thrive, in part because of record numbers of religious vocations to the Province of St. Joseph. Our alumni and students have benefited greatly from the engagement of the Friars and Sisters in the life of the community, and many have established lifelong friendships with Dominicans. Building on this foundation, PC200 establishes a Dominican Intercultural Center to celebrate the Order’s heritage and ethos by enabling engagement with Dominican scholars and professors from around the world, and with international students from other Dominican schools.

Despite its relatively small size, Providence College has enjoyed enormous success as a Division I school through its participation in major athletics conferences (BIG EAST and Hockey East). The athletics program has, in many ways, put PC “on the map” and has provided national recognition. PC200 provides the opportunity to continue to elevate the athletics program, which will strengthen and broaden the College’s institutional profile, provide opportunities for student interaction, and encourage alumni and community engagement.

With an average class size of 20, Providence College is well positioned to create a meaningful and personalized learning experience for each student. PC200 provides for guiding students through a unique signature work project that corresponds to their personal goals and that allows them to integrate their cumulative curricular and co-curricular experiences and apply them to complex contemporary issues. The Plan will enhance a mentoring/advising program which assists interested students in creating individualized majors and courses of study. In addition, the Plan addresses the need for extracurricular professional development of students through the Center for Career Education and Professional Development to enhance skills in areas such as leadership and teamwork, planning and organization, and analytics and technology.

Providence College, for the past several years, has experienced consistently increasing enrollment and yield, despite demographic challenges. We recognize, however, that we cannot become complacent, nor can we ignore the declining number of Catholic high school students in the Northeast, our largest demographic. While the College will continue to draw from this population, PC200 will expand recruiting efforts in geographical areas with increasing populations of college-age students who would be drawn to the cultural, spiritual, and intellectual experience offered by Providence College.

At the same time, to sustain enrollment and performance, Providence College will ensure that its academic programs continue to enthuse and inspire students, as well as prepare them for their ongoing professional and educational pursuits. Therefore, PC200 also provides for ongoing assessment of academic programs for relevance and impact, support to improve existing programs, and resources to develop new and creative interdisciplinary areas of study. One primary goal is that each student is exposed to, and participates in, a variety of high-impact educational practices, irrespective of the programs they declare as majors or minors.

PC200 considers known environmental factors impacting the College today and in the near future. The evolving nature of higher education necessitates a continuous focus on the landscape, new emerging trends, and steps Providence College may have to take to enhance its market position amid evolving consumer preferences and emerging forms of competition. A key component of PC200 establishes and funds a presidential initiative represented by multiple stakeholders to research higher education trends and landscape; assess the College’s positioning with respect to this landscape; mobilize resources to advance the College’s planning efforts; and share its work with the campus community and the president’s Senior Cabinet to ensure appropriate and timely responses to these challenges.

In alignment with PC200, the College will advance the next comprehensive campaign and will intentionally grow the endowment through philanthropy and disciplined transfers from operations.

PC200 will enhance the College’s brand and reputation by making an already strong educational and co-curricular experience for students even better. The Plan will allow the College to build upon existing practices and traditions to create new, unique, and innovative approaches to educating its students. It will engage every member of the PC family and will be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the life of Providence College.