A Synopsis of Drexel's 2030 Strategic Plan Virtual Community Update

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to thank you for taking the time last week to join the Drexel 2030 Strategic Plan Virtual Community Update. We count on the engagement of our faculty and professional staff in charting a path forward that will position the University for long-term financial stability and continued academic success.

We face considerable challenges in 2023. But with the strategic plan Drexel 2030 — Designing the Future as a roadmap to guide us, we know we can weather these uncertain economic times and emerge stronger, as we did following the bankruptcy of Hahnemann University Hospital and the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financial Outlook

As noted during the Jan. 24 virtual update and in a December message, we are not alone in facing these financial challenges. Many external factors, including high inflation and a possible recession, are significantly impacting institutions of higher education throughout the country.

Nonetheless, we saw recent successes, including reaffirming our Carnegie R1 status, exceeding our first-year recruitment goal by 4%, completing a successful fundraising campaign and maintaining our “A” rating from Moody’s and S&P. Moody’s also revised our outlook back to “stable” in February 2022.

But the demographic shift, a growing need for increased tuition support, societal changes and market volatility — combined with a drop in total enrollment— have intensified the need to focus on revenue-generating opportunities, streamline our decision-making processes and reduce University spending.

Drexel has proven to be nimble, implementing one-time solutions to offset the budget challenges for fiscal year 2023. Due to lower undergraduate and graduate results, the University’s increased merit pool for faculty and professional staff, and unforeseen expense increases, the shortfall has increased by approximately $15 million. As a result, the University must address this challenge through limiting spending, achieving efficiencies wherever possible, increasing fundraising and recovering lost revenue. We will focus hiring on essential, revenue-generating positions that advance strategic priorities and curtail non-essential spending and travel for the rest of the fiscal year. Meanwhile, we will work together on permanent solutions to reach financial targets and to achieve appropriate margins to invest for growth.

Strategic Plan Priorities

As we implement our strategic plan, a key to moving the University forward will be more effective integration of Drexel’s differentiators — an innovative, civically engaged, experiential learning-centered R-1 institution with longstanding partnerships — to enhance the student experience, elevate reputation and impact, and grow revenue.

The Areas of Excellence and Opportunity (AEO) identified in the Provost’s initiative represent areas where Drexel can come together across academics, research and partnership to deliver greater impact, enhance our reputation and drive demand. AEOs will also allow us to strategically align our resources and better leverage and connect assets across disciplines. We will continue to update the Drexel community as we build upon these areas.

We have already implemented significant restructuring in administrative units, such as Enrollment Management and University Communications, and have begun a review of our academic structure.

Status of the Strategic Plan

The tri-chairs of the Drexel 2030 Retention and Student Success Initiative Team hosted a retreat last summer that led the creation of a plan for uniting many academic support services for our students into our one-stop, full-service Academic Resource Center at the Korman Center. In addition to continuing to provide quarterly newsletters and routine updates, the Drexel 2030 implementation CORE team will also keep the community apprised of its progress toward key initiatives via roundtable discussions and the Drexel 2030 podcast series. Future episodes will discuss efforts to increase research expenditures while amplifying the impact of the University’s research enterprise. The next roundtable discussion with the Partnerships Initiative Team is scheduled for March 7.

We have reached a turning point in the implementation of our strategic plan as we move from the ideas phase to the action plan that will optimize our future state, setting key performance indicators for success. We will continue to update the Drexel community about the progress of our strategic plan and the state of our financial outlook.

A recording of the Jan. 24 virtual update is available at this link. Additional answers to questions received during the virtual session have been added to the Strategic Plan website. The site will continue to provide the latest information about the implementation process. The Drexel 2030: Designing the Future annual report is also available on the site.

We look forward to working with all of you in forging a path toward elevating and strengthening this great university.


John Fry

Helen Y. Bowman
Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer

Paul E. Jensen
Executive Vice President
Nina Henderson Provost

Elisabeth J. Van Bockstaele
Chief Strategy Officer
Senior Vice President for Graduate and Online Education

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