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A bold vision for the future
President Mike Groener presents a student-centered strategic plan for Holy Names

Holy Names University’s five-year strategic plan is becoming a reality. Last spring, President Mike Groener presented the institution’s updated mission, vision, and goals, alongside a tactical five-year strategic business plan. The Strategic Business Plan lays the groundwork for a transformative future that embraces student-centered investments in curriculum, student support, and technology infrastructure and systems, all of which are intended to meet the educational needs of today’s students. President Groener notes, “We need to meet students where they are and better prepare them for leadership roles in the workplace and the communities in which they will live. The planned investments also address current challenges facing all of higher education nationally, improving student retention and graduation rates through enhanced support to ensure student success.”

Prior to the implementation of the plan, demographic changes impacted HNU’s potential student population, as they have for other universities nationwide. Traditional aged undergraduate students (18 to 24-year-olds) are increasingly more diverse and the first in their families to attend college. In addition, many more traditional-aged students are opting for community college for two years and will need to transfer to a four-year institution to complete their degree. There are many working adults 24 years and older who have either completed some college and wish to complete a baccalaureate degree, or have already completed and wish to pursue a graduate degree or certificate to improve their worth in the workplace.

HNU’s strategic plan anticipates investing more heavily in technology to support course delivery and improve student and other administrative support systems to make them more mobile-friendly. By offering academic programs in flexible formats—face-to-face, online, and hybrid—the University is positioning itself to attract working adults who must juggle work, family, and their education. For all students, the changing world of work requires graduates to be far more technologically literate than prior generations of students, and the use of improved technology across the curriculum will address improving technical competency.

Sheila Smith McKoy

We want employers to know that when they hire a Holy Names graduate they are getting someone who is committed to making the world a better place.”

– Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

President Groener further notes, “The foundation of our strategic plan is built upon viewing our investments in curriculum, technology, and other support through a student-centered lens, and draws on the institution’s enduring core values. The entire community—students, faculty, staff, and trustees—came together to shape this plan and the entire community will work together to make it a reality. Throughout the process, I’ve been awed by the passion and commitment of our community to achieve a future that not only upholds the core values of our founding Sisters—social justice, serving the underserved— but expands on that mission to better meet the needs of today’s students.”

“Students and their families want to know their degree is worth the cost,” Groener observed. “As a University, we are investing in areas that will prepare our students to succeed in any environment and profession, even jobs that haven’t been created yet.” He emphasized that “Ensuring our students become digitally literate is a key part of our value proposition—it is important that our graduates are confident using technology. Some students come to us without having had access to the same technology that many take for granted. It’s our responsibility to bridge this digital divide for our students. We can do this through online and hybrid learning opportunities, providing learning resources on campus, and integrating technology creatively into the curriculum.”

Michael Groener

I’ve been awed by the passion and commitment of our community to achieve a future that not only upholds the core values of our founding Sisters—social justice, serving the underserved— but expands on that mission to better meet the needs of today’s students.”

– Mike Groener, President of HNU

Preparing graduates for a life of purpose, not just a job

Following up on the goals of the Strategic Business Plan last year, Holy Names is in the process of creating an Academic Strategic Plan. “Students want to see themselves and the social justice mission realized in the curriculum.” Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy, HNU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs notes. “We need to answer the question ‘How do we prepare graduates to carry on a social justice mission?’ We want employers to know that when they hire a Holy Names graduate they are getting someone who is committed to making the world a better place.”

Dr. Smith McKoy is leading the Academic Strategic Planning process which will refine HNU’s academic program offerings so that HNU students can achieve academic success, prepare for graduate study, and excel in their chosen careers. She describes the planning process as a collaborative effort led by a diverse task force. “By incorporating a strong faculty and student voice,” Smith McKoy notes, “our vision for the future will represent the very best of Holy Names.”

Staying true to our roots

Even as Holy Names is launching these new initiatives, the University continues its commitment to the values of the foundresses. “It is essential that we keep the spirit of the Sisters alive on campus. Their core values, their legacy, is a roadmap for us,” President Groener asserts. “And, while we will always appreciate events that celebrate our legacy, like Strawberries and Cream with the Sisters on Founders’ Day, the best way for us to keep their legacy alive is to truly live their core values and pass on those values to our students.”

“The story of HNU’s foundresses is powerful: six young women in their twenties—the same age as many of our students—who left their homes and families and traveled across the world to serve the greater good. Their story needs to be awakened on campus and shared with others,” added Smith McKoy.

Sharing our mission

In support of these efforts, President Groener plans to build on these important traditions by emphasizing the impact of Holy Names on individual students, Oakland, and the wider world. “We need to show our students how their degree can open doors and lead to new opportunities,” said President Groener. “Our strategic plan is focused on strengthening and expanding our network of local and global partnerships.”

Groener is focused on the University’s impact on students’ lives during and beyond their education at Holy Names. “We specialize in serving students often overlooked by other institutions—first-generation, low-income, minority. We need to connect these students with local businesses and institutions and give them access to real-world learning experiences, including internships, civic engagement, and volunteer work.”

He also stressed the importance of motivating HNU’s alumni to support the HNU of today. “Alumni have so much to offer our students—from mentoring to financial support, it all matters—and our alumni need to understand the meaningful impact they can have. We need to make sure they too are invested in HNU’s future.” He concluded by saying, “This is a place that matters. We are determined to succeed!”