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Press release

Holy Names University Announces New Academic Strategic Plan: HNU SOARS

Plan promotes social justice, leverages technology
to prepare graduates for future careers

OAKLAND, CA (July 15, 2020) – Holy Names University (HNU) proudly announces the completion of its new academic strategic plan. Entitled HNU SOARS, the plan strongly aligns the institution’s historic social justice mission with the needs of today’s students.

Over the past year, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs Sheila Smith McKoy and the Academic Strategic Planning Task Force led the campus through a collaborative process of reimagining HNU’s curriculum. The primary goals of the plan were to reflect the identities and interests of the institution’s diverse student body and to prepare them for leadership roles post-graduation through enhanced technology and pedagogy.

“HNU SOARS was informed by our students’ commitment to social justice. It prepares them to engage as professionals, as change agents, and as social justice advocates,” notes Smith McKoy. “Because it is underpinned by our core values and extended by our use of technology as a tool for educational success, our graduates will be prepared to address the complex local and global issues that will define their lives.”

The plan is, in part, in direct response to strong student activism on campus. For example, calls for Ethnic Studies at HNU were heard, and a degree program will be built during the upcoming academic year. Shaniah Ritzie ‘21, one of the leaders of the movement focused on Ethnic Studies, shared, “As students, we are the foundations of movements across the world. When you look at revolutions in history, it is us, student bodies that wake up and demand change.”

The final goals are as follows:

Goal 1: Revolutionize the HNU educational experience ensuring that students are prepared to lead in a diverse, global society.

Goal 2: Provide an enriched and customizable academic experience, while preparing students to meet current and future workforce demands.

Goal 3: Make HNU a destination for lifelong learning and transformative leadership.

Goal 4: Invest in educational practices and technologies that honor the collaborative nature of teaching and learning in a rapidly changing world.

HNU’s academic strategic plan will serve as a blueprint for the University as it maps out what is taught, how it will be taught, and how HNU will continue to be an ongoing resource for graduates. The plan’s name, HNU SOARS, represents the following five concepts: Social Responsibility, Oakland-Centered, Academic Excellence, Radical Engagement, and Sustainable Learning.

“Our plan is a perfect reflection of our values as an institution at this very moment in time,” says HNU’s President Mike Groener. “This reexamination of our curriculum paired with technology enhancements and innovative practices in teaching and learning will be critical to our students’ success now and throughout their careers.”

Learn more:
HNU’s Academic Strategic Plan (web page)
HNU’s Academic Strategic Plan (video)


Holy Names University (HNU) has been empowering and preparing a diverse student body for productive lives of leadership and service since 1868. Rooted in Catholic intellectual and spiritual traditions, the University was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. HNU offers a liberal arts and professional education. Student-centered, with small class sizes and courses in varied formats and schedules, HNU meets the needs of all learners, including first-generation students and working adults. Nestled in the Oakland hills of California, the University’s idyllic, 60-acre campus offers panoramic views of San Francisco Bay.