Become a leader among national research universities in providing all students with high quality learning/living experiences focused on inquiry, discovery and innovation in a global environment
VCU has the opportunity to create distinction by focusing on the infusion of inquiry-based instruction, collaborative work and multidisciplinary engagement across all academic levels — from the first year through post-graduate study. Through a curriculum that fosters critical thinking and encourages innovation and discovery, VCU students will take advantage of the unique opportunities that are available only at a major research university. Students will be engaged in an integrated community in which learning is active, sequential and supported through strong mentorship at all levels.
As recommended in The Boyer Report, the university will embrace its role as an “ecosystem” in which inquiry, discovery and innovation are “the heart of the enterprise, whether in funded research projects or in undergraduate classrooms or graduate apprenticeships.” (p. 9). The engaged student will be an essential ingredient of the high quality student experience, one that will require a supportive campus environment, high impact learning experiences, a campus infrastructure that is defined by quality living/learning spaces and a university climate that embraces diversity and civil discourse.
Recruiting and retaining a diverse and high achieving student body remains a top priority. While our first commitment must continue to be the provision of an affordable education for Virginia students, we must also embrace the opportunity to diversify our student profile by recruiting nationally and internationally with the goal of increasing the state’s workforce potential, economic vitality and quality of life. To prepare students to assume leadership positions and to become engaged citizens, the inquiry-based/discovery model of learning should begin in the first year and continue through the senior capstone experience. The capstone course will be a culminating experience that brings together faculty, graduate students and/or senior undergraduates in the pursuit of unique projects, performances, internship experiences or field work that expands learning and makes a contribution to the student’s field of study. Theme I embraces the concept that learning and personal development occur as a result of productive classroom experiences that are coupled with meaningful engagement in both academic and non-academic experiences outside of the classroom. By linking multiple productive learning/living opportunities, students will experience VCU as a “seamless web of learning across classroom and out-of-class settings.”
The university’s vision for excellence stems from the quality of its human capital — exceptional faculty, staff and students. High quality faculty members are the drivers of excellence in the classroom, in the laboratories, in the studios and in the community where we reside. Our faculty and staff must epitomize the vision for excellence for our students, a vision that promotes VCU’s core values of accountability, achievement, collaboration, freedom, innovation, service, diversity and integrity. Likewise, the university must embrace teaching excellence as a core expectation across all academic units with teaching excellence defined as a more active, learning-centered, collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to the process of teaching and learning. Doctoral students who are preparing for a university-level faculty position must be provided the professional development and experience necessary to blend quality teaching and cutting-edge research. Likewise, all faculty should engage in Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) that expand understanding of inquiry-based learning and foster a culture of engagement.
To achieve this level of excellence, we must not only recruit exceptional faculty, staff and students, we must also provide the environment, infrastructure, mentoring, inspiration, high standards, rewards, recognition and appropriate support to retain them. This intentionality of support must include a careful review of promotion and tenure guidelines, the faculty rewards system and a method for enhancing the professional development of faculty and staff. VCU will focus on the quality of place through its policies, its programming, its support for diverse perspectives and its cultivation of a sense of community.
Theme I – Goals, metrics and initiatives
|Goals||Metrics||Illustrative university initiatives|
|I.A||Recruit and retain talented and diverse students who will graduate at a higher rate and will contribute to a highly skilled workforce||
||Develop a university-wide strategic enrollment plan focused on enhanced diversity and quality of students at all academic levels|
|I.B||Provide students a quality education through rigorous and innovative academic programs that support and prepare students for civic engagement and careers in a 21st century global environment||
|I.C||Engage students, the alumni of tomorrow, in high impact academic and extra-curricular experiences that expand learning, promote civil discourse, and engage students in self reflection and creative expression||
|I.D||Recruit and retain faculty, staff and senior leadership with the skills and talents to increase quality teaching and learning, high impact research, and diversity at all levels||
* An analysis of the expected representation of women and minorities versus the actual utilizes workforce data; an example can be found at www.equalopportunity.ilstu.edu/underutilization