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Widening the Circle of Learners

Virtually everyone believes that Taylor needs to grow the circle of learners it serves – both because it is essential for institutional vitality, and because we believe it is a missional imperative to share the transformative Taylor education with a wider segment of learners. This includes increasing the diversity of our student body as well as residential undergraduate student body growth, but it also involves launching and expanding academic programs to serve nontraditional students for Taylor—adult learners, those interested in graduate and professional programs, and pre-collegiate students. This will require significant investment, so our strategies need to represent wise stewardship of limited resources to leverage for maximum impact. This expansion of the students that Taylor serves must also align with and advance the University’s commitment to Christian higher education, not diminish it.

We think the best approach is to identify a portfolio of academic areas where strategic investments can be made. We have chosen these areas of focus to better serve our traditional students while also creating new academic offerings for pre-collegiate, graduate, and adult learners. This expansion will largely occur through digital or remote learning initiatives, but they will also involve investments in people, on-campus facilities, and programs. A dedicated administrative unit within the academic division will be required to serve these nontraditional learners most effectively. This will necessitate a restructuring of some other parts of the academic division, which could include re-constituting school-like units within the academic division while also creating opportunities for collaboration across academic departments. Unlike previous efforts at the University, none of these restructuring strategies are created to eliminate positions for budget-savings reasons. Instead, we seek to position Taylor’s academic leadership and structure to be more adaptable for the rising competitiveness of our market and to develop a cadre of academic leaders who have sufficient and equivalent “range” of responsibilities and are developed as institutional leaders with greater intentionality and authority. Finally, we seek to invest in academic initiatives that will serve the largest number of students and to diversify the University’s resource base for future growth and development.

As part of this priority, we have identified a set of initiatives that we believe, over time, will help our campus more closely reflect God’s Kingdom on earth. As our Multicultural Philosophy Statement makes clear, Taylor is committed to fostering healthy relationships in our community regardless of differences in race, ethnicity, or national heritage. We believe there is value in seeking diversity, not just out of a desire to serve a wider segment of students but also in seeking to emulate the diverse multitude from every language, ethnicity, and nation who praise the Lord in heaven for eternity. We believe this process not only honors God but also offers myriad opportunities to enrich the experience of everyone at Taylor. The following are the major components of Priority Pillar 1: Widening the Circle of Learners.

Primary Components of Priority Pillar 1: Widening the Circle of Learners

Invest in Taylor’s Christ-Centered, Liberal Arts Education

Make strategic investments to differentiate Taylor’s Biblically Anchored, Christ-Centered, Liberal Arts Grounded, Educational Mission from key competitors.

Strategic Investments in Five Academic Areas

We believe that intentional investments in five academic areas where Taylor is already succeeding will make a significant difference in helping Taylor grow market share. We are pursuing areas where we can advance Taylor’s work with multiple student populations at the same time—from pre-collegiate students to our core undergraduates, to adult learners in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs.

Raise Taylor’s Academic Profile

Surveys of prospective students tell us that Taylor is losing a perceptual battle against key competitors related to the strength of our academic offerings. There are concrete, proven, and achievable steps we can take to help recognize the excellence of our faculty and bolster our academic reputation and, likely, help Taylor’s standing in recognized rankings rise.

Expand Taylor’s Academic Offerings for Key Partners in Christian Education

While a number of traditional recruiting markets are shrinking, there are several areas that are seeing significant growth, ones that also represent a strong missional fit for Taylor. We believe we can do much more to help reach and recruit these students through strategic partnerships and offerings.

Align Taylor’s Academic Structure for Institutional Thriving

Taylor’s faculty are incredibly committed to their students, but time spent in committees, an academic structure that is not intuitive, a lack of support for grant-writing, and other features of our current situation take too much valuable time and energy from our faculty. We believe there are pragmatic steps we can take that will maintain the important shared-governance work done by faculty while also freeing more of faculty time to do the things they are uniquely able to do well.

Develop a Student Body that Reflects the Diversity of the Global Church

We believe in increasing the diversity of Taylor’s student body because our theological convictions compel us to emulate the diverse multitude from every language, ethnicity, and nation who will praise the Lord in heaven for eternity.

Leverage a New Academic Space on Campus

Strengthen a marquee specialty program (film & media) on campus with dedicated space while also expanding facilities that can benefit the entire campus.