Strategic Planning & New Realities
Message from President Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, SJ, PhD
In November 2017, we published The Creighton 150 Strategic Plan: Lighting the Way, which outlined a course to advance our strategic mission and vision as we approached the University’s 140th anniversary in September 2018 and looked ahead to our 150th anniversary in 2028.
Through ongoing campuswide discussions and conversations – and the leadership, vision, wisdom, and creativity of so many across campus – we have moved significantly forward in the plan’s broad strategic themes:
- achieving academic excellence;
- advancing national, local, and campus dialogue and action around our foundational and distinctive Jesuit, Catholic mission;
- and engaging our world through global programs and expertise, innovation, compassion, and leadership.
We broke ground on our Phoenix health sciences campus in September 2019, and plan to celebrate the opening of the new $100 million, 183,000-square-foot facility in 2021. Addressing a critical need for health professionals in the American Southwest, our Phoenix campus will be home to a four-year medical school and programs for future nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, and physician assistants. It will accommodate nearly 900 students and, combined with our Omaha campus, will make Creighton the largest Catholic health professions educators in the United States.
Our Kingfisher Institute was inaugurated in 2019, through which we have advanced curriculum innovation, transdisciplinary research, and campus and community engagement that provides context and voice to some of the most complex and transcendent human challenges of our time. With its aim of reaching across traditional boundaries of academic disciplines, schools, and colleges, the institute has fostered collaboration and brought fresh, creative ideas and innovative programming to such important and timely topics as race in America and narratives of health and illness.
In August of 2018, we inaugurated our immersive, international Creighton Global Scholars Program, with the goal of incorporating study in at least four countries for select undergraduate students over their University careers. And, in November of 2019, we announced our Common Home Project, with a focus on six global “hubs,” including the U.S., that yield measurable results when matched with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
These are just a few examples of the incredible strides we have made as a University through the Creighton 150 Strategic Plan. We also strengthened and nurtured the bedrock of a Creighton education: Preparing students for professional success while emphasizing the formation of the whole person – intellectually, spiritually, and socially. I believe the value of a Creighton education, particularly in these complex and uncertain times, has never been greater. However, there are seismic shifts affecting higher education nationally, to which Creighton is not immune.
These include changing demographics, noted by a sharp decline in 18-year-olds in the U.S. beginning in 2026; increased price sensitivity among prospective students and their families; heightened competition among colleges and universities for a declining number of high school graduates; deferred maintenance on campus buildings; and student-loan debt. All of these factors present financial uncertainties, challenges, and potential opportunities. The COVID-19 global pandemic has brought additional stress to the situation, affecting student enrollments, and other institutional priorities, nationally and at Creighton.
As we continue to recognize serious disruptions in our lives related to the pandemic, as well as maintain our ongoing study of significant demographic, economic, and political shifts occurring in U.S. higher education, I am eager to assess campus-wide strategic opportunities and challenges. In so many ways, we are moving purposefully forward, with the Phoenix campus, lifelong-learning initiatives, unique and innovative programming, faculty scholarship and research, and myriad other areas. Our assessment will be collaborative, thoughtful, and inclusive, and the President’s Strategic Assessment Group will assist Provost Mardell Wilson, EdD, RDN, and me in this work (view the list of members). This website is meant to serve as a resource for information and a hub for sharing and collecting your questions and suggestions, and will eventually include a dashboard for tracking benchmarks related to this ongoing assessment.
Addressing this current climate in higher education will require creativity, collaboration, and even greater focus on tying our budget to our core mission. I am confident that the Creighton community is up to the task at hand, and I look forward to conversations and critical dialogue around how we can step boldly into these new realities.
The Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD
President, Creighton University