Looking Back With Pride
Looking Forward with Confidence
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Wilkes University is at a critical point in its history. Our traditional source of students, high school graduates, is projected to decline by over 7 percent in the Mid-Atlantic region by 2015. By the same token, market studies suggest that there are significant opportunities for growth in demand from adult degree-completers, professionals needing further education at the graduate level, and ethnically diverse students from both domestic and international sources. Our region is on the cusp of a major economic renaissance with the development of the Marcellus Shale Gas Play. Wilkes has an opportunity to take the lead in issues related to responsible energy development and environmental stewardship.
The recession has put a strain on our budgets, with long-term federal and state support likely to decline. Accountability is becoming increasingly important, from assessment of student learning to the return on investment of a college education. Technology, as an enabler for student learning and greater administrative effectiveness, provides significant opportunities to increase both the quality and accessibility of all programs. Greater transparency and inclusion in decision-making is needed to gain community support for the changes Wilkes will have to make to ensure success in the years ahead. These issues, along with many other external and internal pressures to improve, create complex but exciting opportunities and challenges for Wilkes University.
The University Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) believes that Wilkes is ready to address these opportunities and challenges with strength and conviction. Vision 2015, our new strategic plan, will prepare Wilkes to become the higher education leader in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Wilkes University is proud of its solid tradition of responding to changing times, circumstances, and the needs of its students. From its beginning as Bucknell University Junior College in 1933, Wilkes provided a chance for a better life to the youth of Northeastern Pennsylvania. That promise remains today and has been expanded to include adults seeking to improve their professional careers through undergraduate degree completion and graduate study.
Wilkes impacts our community in many ways. Our programs graduate talented professionals who enter the region’s workforce as pharmacists, engineers, nurses, business leaders, scientists, and teachers. Wilkes is recognized as a leader in undergraduate science education, having been awarded a prestigious grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute and recently invited to submit a proposal for a second grant from the Institute. The expanding need to manage the region’s natural resources has given rise to the establishment of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research of Northeast Pennsylvania, which received federal funding to monitor ground water quality in the region and provide scientifically based information on gas exploration, drilling and distribution. The Wilkes Community Conservatory provides programs in the performing arts to hundreds of community members each year. Wilkes collaborates with various groups to document local history through the Wyoming Valley History Project. The University’s speaker series inspires both students and the community by hosting internationally known speakers several times a year.
The University Center on Main, the University’s administrative hub, and University Towers Apartments stand as a testament to Wilkes’ commitment to revitalize the City of Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes also partnered with nearby King’s College to launch a joint bookstore in the center of Wilkes-Barre. These additions added hundreds of daily visitors to the city, enough to support several new businesses. Wilkes-led organizations like The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development and the Small Business Development Center contribute to the region’s economic development. Grant funding, such as the $15 million generated between FY05 and FY09, is yet another way that Wilkes has contributed to the region’s development.
Responding to the demographic shift of the college-going population, Wilkes has met the demand for adult education by growing graduate programs by more than 150 percent over the last decade and increasing undergraduate enrollment by 28 percent during the same time frame. More than 100 students from 21 countries now study at Wilkes. Growth is not just local; about 60 Wilkes students travel abroad each year as part of their studies. Wilkes has a collaborative program with Punjabi University in Patiala, India, and is delivering doctoral programs in educational leadership in Oman. Online programs enroll students from across the country. The Instructional Media program enrolls students from 42 states and Canada, and the Master’s in Creative Writing is one of the largest low- residency programs in the country.