President's Message Fall/Winter 2016

December 22, 2016

Dear friends,

At their recent fall meeting, the University’s trustees approved Compass 2021: Mount Union’s Plan to Lead, Collaborate, and Innovate. This Board action culminated a yearlong process involving hundreds of people assessing the challenges and opportunities facing Mount Union. Approved by the University’s senior administrators, faculty, and the Board, Compass 2021 commits the University to a number of strategies designed to, over the next five years, extend and cement Mount’s leadership position among colleges and universities in the Midwest.

First and foremost, the plan calls for the preservation of the University’s great strengths: excellent academic programs, close interaction with outstanding faculty members, and co-curricular experiences that encourage engagement and personal growth. I am excited that Mount Union will be fostering a global perspective and taking a number of steps to strengthen programs that focus on leadership development. We will be deploying technology in innovative ways to more effectively engage our students and to amplify the reach, impact, and visibility of the University in our region and around the world. 

Compass 2021 also responds to the affordability challenge facing higher education today. The plan will energize collaborative efforts to control costs, increase non-tuition revenue, and reach and serve new populations of students. These efforts will be combined with active work seeking new gifts to significantly increase the University’s endowment for scholarship and financial aid support for our students.  

More information about Compass 2021 is on the following page. I look forward to working with you to advance the goals of the plan and to build a brighter future together.

Thanks for all you do for Mount Union!

Best regards,

Dick Merriman
President, University of Mount Union

Compass 2021 

In December 2015, the University concluded Advancing Excellence, an ambitious and successful five-year strategic plan. At that time, the University began collaborative work to create a new strategic plan that would build upon those recent successes. After months of work, and with input from hundreds of members of the University community, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee proposed Compass 2021: Mount Union’s Strategy to Lead, Collaborate, and Innovate. The plan was approved by the faculty and Board of Trustees in the fall of 2016.

“The plan balances aspiration – we want to be ambitious for the University’s future – with realism. A plan isn’t valuable if it isn’t implemented, but it’s also not valuable if it doesn’t stretch us,” said Dick Merriman, president of the University. “Given the very dynamic environment in which Mount Union operates, it is not feasible to state with great certainty that Mount Union will be executing specific steps five years from now. Instead, the plan articulates a number of key goals for the University – our compass – that will guide our work over the next five years.” 

Compass 2021 focuses on six initiatives:

  • Cultivate an innovative and expanding academic environment
  • Ensure financial strength, affordability, and enrollment success
  • Enrich the experience of an increasingly-diverse student body
  • Brand the University as a remarkable Midwestern institution
  • Create an effective and collaborative workplace culture
  • Leverage existing and emerging technology

The impact of Compass 2021 on the University’s future will be evident as efforts to raise endowed funds to support scholarships and academic programs take center stage in the University’s fund raising efforts. Past Mount Union capital campaigns have focused on significant facilities projects, but an upcoming capital campaign will shift attention to building the endowment for scholarships. In addition, Mount Union will seek to annually secure gifts totaling $100,000 to $200,000 for a student rescue fund designed to help upperclassmen complete their studies and earn degrees.

“The rising cost of college and increasing student debt are top concerns for today’s families,” said Merriman. “Both are significant hurdles for our undergraduate students, and even more so for the substantial number of first-generation students we welcome each year.”

“The campaign will focus on affordability, the quality of our programs, and the leadership of our students and alumni,” said Greg King ’89, vice president for advancement. “Through the continued loyalty of our supporters, we will be poised to further enhance the Mount Union experience and ensure that it is accessible to students of all backgrounds.” 

Alumni and friends will have other opportunities to support the plan as well. The University plans to put a spotlight on campus-wide programs that encourage the development of leaders, which will require a growing network of individuals and organizations that can provide internship, shadowing, and networking opportunities. Alumni and friends will also be asked to help with efforts to grow Mount Union’s visibility and recruit new students in key geographic areas.

“The loyalty of our alumni and friends is a great strength of Mount Union,” said King. “I have no doubt that, as we work to implement our new strategic plan and launch a campaign, our supporters will once again step up to the plate to offer their time, talent, and treasure in support of the institution and our students.”

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