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John Carroll University’s strategic plan for 2020-2025 comes at a critically important time in the institution’s history. The convergence of three major developments is having an unparalleled impact on the university’s ability to compete and remain financially strong: (1) the need for innovation to keep pace with changing student demand, (2) structural deficits that are not sustainable, and (3) the impacts of COVID-19. 

The new strategic plan continues to build on John Carroll’s academic strengths and Jesuit tradition, but also differentiate and position us to compete more effectively in the increasingly competitive market for higher education through innovation in its curricular and co-curricular programs. The plan seeks to answer how we become more attractive to prospective students given the multitude of opportunities available to them in order to grow enrollment and revenues. The plan is comprehensive and envisions everything from our academic program priorities and administrative units, to our enrollment strategy and marketing support, to enriching our student experience beyond the classroom, to broadening our student populations and ways of delivering our educational experiences, to our technological platforms, to our community partnerships and collaborations.

While innovating, the university must simultaneously reduce its cost structure to address historical budget deficits and lay the foundation for long-term financial strength. With a goal to thrive and not just survive, the university must change the way it operates, generate new resources, and reallocate existing resources, all while preserving the core of our Jesuit Catholic education.

This innovation and restructuring are occurring as the world is adapting to a global pandemic. COVID-19 has created unprecedented uncertainty in our finances while fundamentally changing the way we teach and interact with our students. Our historical face-to-face, on campus mode of instruction is being replaced by a hybrid approach, where some course elements are designed ahead of time and made available on demand (asynchronously), while live (synchronous) components are taught through in-person, classroom instruction that fosters active engagement between students and faculty.

The overall vision for John Carroll that has emerged from the strategic planning process is bold and highly achievable. The plan is based on research and analysis related to the current and future demand for academic programs and John Carroll’s ability to compete for students in those programs. The plan realigns our program mix to areas of enrollment and revenue growth that will differentiate John Carroll and sustain the institution going forward.

Not surprisingly, the vision starts with our commitment to academic rigor, a faith that does justice, inclusive excellence, and care for the whole person. We will continue to inspire individuals of intellect and character to learn, lead, and serve in the community and around the world. Grounded on our Jesuit heritage, we will build upon our strengths in the liberal arts to advance innovative, rigorous programs for a diverse community of students.

Leveraging our location, alumni network, and historical strengths, John Carroll will enhance its reputation through investments in curricular and co-curricular programs related to health, business, analytics, and experiential learning. Why these areas? The focus on health builds upon our strength in pre-health majors and biology in particular, business education, and proximity to world-class healthcare institutions that are among the largest employers of our graduates. John Carroll is well positioned to become a leader, regionally and nationally, in health professions and the business of healthcare. The Boler College of Business, home to three of our four largest undergraduate majors and Master of Business Administration programs, is itself well positioned to grow in both size and reputation. The growth of analytics and “big data” as an interdisciplinary focus offers John Carroll additional areas of focus in which to compete, as through the new Kramer School of Accountancy and Information Sciences. Last but not least, John Carroll will continue to provide students with a culture of care, where they experience a deep sense of belonging and thrive as engaged learners who become inspired, discerning leaders in service for and with others, as through the new Donnelly School of Service and Social Innovation.

At this time, the Strategic Plan has been shared with Faculty and Staff. The University Strategic Planning Group is working to gather input and incorporate feedback into the plan. I encourage all campus stakeholders to offer feedback and help shape the final version of the plan.

I would like to thank the entire John Carroll community for their time and hard work in the planning process and commitment to the future of the University. It is remarkable what we accomplished this past year while continuing to deliver our first-class educational experience, serving our students outside the classroom, and rebuilding support structures, all while adapting to a global health crisis. 


Onward On and go Blue Streaks!

Michael D. Johnson, President


Download a PDF version of the plan.

Our Envisioned Future

John Carroll University’s promise is to develop the intellect, character, leadership, and service potential of every one of our students so that they will become the thought leaders, change agents, community builders, and ethical thinkers needed in the 21st century. To keep this promise, we must enhance the prominence of our University.

Our prominence will be achieved by aligning mission-driven initiatives with market-driven demands. John Carroll will increase its competitiveness to expand our geographic reach, enrollment, fiscal resources, partnerships, and philanthropic gifts.

We commit to the primacy of academic program quality and to curricular innovation and relevance. We will not compete on prestige or price alone. Instead, we will focus on value— providing the most exciting, challenging, holistic education available—and on values— sustaining the timeless ideals upon which this University is built.

John Carroll’s compact with its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends is grounded in its Jesuit Catholic vision, mission, and core values. Embracing these, we will work in the next five years to achieve three goals. Each goal, as it is realized, will broaden opportunities for our students and increase their capacity to become engaged world citizens within a distinctly Ignatian framework.

  • Academic Excellence for Student Learning and Success animates the Ignatian traditions of intellectual rigor, local and global citizenship, and support for student learning and well-being.
  • Faith That Does Justice charges the University to address social challenges facing our local and global communities through the Ignatian model of reflection and action.
  • Engaged Campus Community challenges us to sustain a dynamic and collaborative workplace by embracing the Ignatian ideal of Magis, the greater good.

Our goals accomplished, we keep our promise to our students. And John Carroll students will realize their promise in the world.

Goals and Objectives

True to our heritage, reflective of our history and values, and high in aspiration, this strategic plan is also pragmatic and realistic, directed toward securing John Carroll’s future and meant to raise our reputation. It will make us stronger, not only because additional resources enrich student learning, but also because John Carroll University and its graduates are part of the Cleveland community and the national and global communities, and we are needed.

Goal 1

Academic Excellence For Student Learning And Success

John Carroll University will achieve greater regional and national recognition as a leader in liberal education and be known for developing superior critical competencies through a challenging integrative core curriculum, innovative curricular programs, and cross-campus support for student learning. Informed by Ignatian traditions of welleducated solidarity, holistic care for the person, and openness to the challenges of the world, Goal One will be achieved through these objectives:

  1. Integrative Curriculum: Implement the integrative core curriculum as a foundation for personal and professional success.
  2. Distinctive Programs: Develop and enhance distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs that attract external recognition, increase enrollment, and produce graduates who will benefit our region and beyond.
  3. Investment in Faculty: Invest in teacher-scholars to strengthen programs that enhance John Carroll University’s academic reputation.
  4. Experiential Education: Increase opportunities to engage in experiential learning programs through campus-based initiatives and local and global partnerships that prepare students for 21st century careers.
  5. Student Thriving: Increase student engagement to improve student persistence, on- time degree completion, personal growth, and professional preparation and advancement.

Goal 2

Faith That Does Justice

Rooted in the gospels and inspired by Catholic social teaching and the Jesuit tradition of being women and men for and with others, John Carroll University will be recognized for its work in faith development, interreligious dialogue, a commitment to solidarity with those who are poor and the marginalized, a curricular emphasis on social justice and global citizenship, and an operative principle of inclusive excellence. We will meet the following objectives:

  1. Jesuit Catholic Values: Deepen the University’s commitment to peace, justice, and sustainability
  2. Ignatian Pedagogy: Integrate an Ignatian Pedagogy of experience, reflection and action more fully into the student learning experience and across the broader campus community.
  3. Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue: Enable all members of the University community to explore, deepen, and share their faith or worldview in dialogue with people of all cultural and faith backgrounds.
  4. Inclusive Excellence: Improve the diversity of the faculty, staff, and student body and promote a culture of inclusive excellence.

Goal 3

Engaged Campus Community

John Carroll will nurture a dynamic, collaborative and future-oriented institutional culture predicated on student, faculty, staff and alumni engagement to achieve operational excellence and competitiveness. Building on the Ignatian ideal of Magis, the greater good, we will achieve the following objectives:

  1. Individual Well-Being: Advance the well-being of all full-time and part-time faculty and staff through enhanced work-life policies, communitybuilding, and professional development.
  2. Integrated Planning: Create, support, and sustain an integrated planning and budgeting process that aligns institutional resources with strategic priorities.
  3. Continuous Improvement: Advance a culture of mission-centered and data-informed decision making for institutional improvement.
  4. Enhanced Technology: Improve strategic use of technology to ensure excellence in all academic and administrative processes.
  5. Improved Collaboration: Establish dynamic organizational and governance structures, collaborative leadership, enhanced communication, and decision-making across all stakeholders of the University.
  6. Strategic Alliances: Pursue strategic alliances with local and global partners to enhance the University’s reputation in the region and the world.

Feedback from all stakeholders in the campus community is welcome through the strategic planning process. Please submit your comments here.