The educational landscape is changing. How can the University of Redlands adapt and thrive while advancing the student-centered, personalized education it provides? Faculty, staff, and students have come together over many months to provide answers to that question in the form of a strategic plan called North Star 2020.
“North Star 2020 is focused on building collaboration across the University, using a process of consistent consultation, currently in the form of about eight summits and working groups,” says Provost Kathy Ogren. “Most people consider strategic plans fairly boring and ineffective because they sit on a shelf. It has been important to [President] Ralph [Kuncl] and me to offer regular communications about our accomplishments with North Star 2020 to our stakeholders.”
The collaborative effort, which first began in 2015, has already resulted in a host of initiatives.
One set of new programs, known as “Pathways,” focuses on providing attractive and effective ways for new generations of students to earn an education at Redlands. U of R has recently signed memorandums of understanding facilitating and guaranteeing admissions and financial aid for qualified students from the Redlands Unified School District, Chaffey Unified School District, Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified School District, and Crafton Hills College.
Another set of proposals focuses on fulfilling the University’s potential as a master’s institution, including exploring combined undergraduate and graduate degree programs (4+1 programs), such as an undergraduate degree with an education focus combined with an accelerated Master of Arts in Learning and Teaching (MALT). At the same time, the plan encourages interrelationships among our schools and different disciplines.
Engaging with the local community, alumni, and partners is also a priority. “The plan is about our mission for the future, including the planned arrival of the passenger rail station in Redlands and the development of South Campus with a University Village,” says Ogren.
Embodying North Star 2020’s forward-looking spirit, the University has launched an annual Innovation Fund Award competition to fund fresh ideas, encourage new revenue, and explore educational opportunities. Thanks to these funds, some U of R faculty, students, and staff have been able to work on advancing projects, including a history-geographic information systems (GIS) digital humanities laboratory, a B.A.-to-MBA pathway in sustainable business, a commuter student lounge, and a media production center.
In addition, Innovation Fund grants have supported the development of online programs in business and education, which are now coming to fruition. The School of Business is accepting applications for its first online MBA program in the fall. The School of Education will offer two online degrees—including one with multiple pathways and another as a Special Education MALT degree—starting in January. For more information on the online programs, see online.redlands.edu.