A Strategic Plan for Roanoke College

By its 175th year in 2017, Roanoke College will be one of the nation's top one hundred liberal arts colleges. Increasing the national prominence and reputation of Roanoke College is a vision shared by all members of the Roanoke College community.

Our pursuit is rooted in our commitment to liberal learning. We refer to that tradition in our document on the liberal arts at Roanoke called "Freedom with Purpose" which best describes the intentions of what we offer to students. Our strategic plan is designed to realize this vision of educating students for "freedom with purpose" and will make a Roanoke College education nationally distinctive.

Today we stand at a unique crossroads in Roanoke's history. Roanoke has an outstanding tradition of progress and momentum. We have direction and ambition. We have fiscal strength. Faculty, staff, Administration, Trustees, alumni and friends are committed to Roanoke's present and future. Our aims are realistic and timely. Roanoke already has many characteristics of a top liberal arts college. With boldness and confidence, we pursue this plan.

The Roanoke strategic plan has five overarching themes, with objectives under each theme. The objectives, those identified here as well as those that will emerge during the realization of our strategic plan, are designed to establish Roanoke as a top liberal arts college. An annual planning process across all divisions of the College will enable the campus community to set and monitor our progress on an on-going basis.

Theme #1: To provide broad, deep and experiential education programs that advance our vision of "Freedom with Purpose."

Every Roanoke student will experience a broad, deep and experiential liberal arts education focused on developing his or her confident sense of freedom in the world and a sense of purpose in using that freedom.

The new Intellectual Inquiry curriculum provides the breadth of a Roanoke education. Majors provide education depth. Expanding experiential educational opportunities for all students, in combination with the curriculum and the "Freedom with Purpose" vision will provide a Roanoke educational experience that compares well with, but stands out in important ways from what other leading liberal arts colleges offer. We will bring about breadth, depth and experiential learning in many ways, including the following:

  • Enhance existing academic programs and add new ones that make a Roanoke education nationally competitive and regionally distinctive.

  • Increase the number of students involved in research, artistic endeavors, independent study, study abroad, internships, service learning, and leadership experiences to the highest levels in Roanoke's history.

  • Enhance and expand the size of the Honors Program.

  • Expand post-graduate opportunities for Roanoke students. Each year Roanoke students will receive national fellowships and awards (such as Goldwater, Fulbright, Truman, and Rhodes Scholarships). Develop programs to prepare students for these honors, scholarships, and fellowships.

  • Increase the number of students attending graduate and professional schools within six years of graduation to compare favorably with top liberal arts colleges. Provide greater focus on preparing students for medical and law school admission.

  • Prepare students rigorously and thoroughly for entry-level employment of their choice.

Theme #2: To link the academic, co-curricular and residential experience in ways that embody the "Freedom with Purpose" vision.

The nature of Roanoke College gives us an opportunity to draw on the residential aspects of students' lives to enhance their academic experience. We will weave together the residential and academic experiences to engage students in their development as whole persons, stressing their intellectual, ethical, spiritual and personal growth. We will link the academic, co-curricular and residential experience in as many ways as possible, including the following:

  • Enhance the residential nature of the learning experience by maximizing the on-campus housing rate.

  • Create an environment where intellect and character are developed with intentionality. Promote academic and personal integrity.

  • Add co-curricular programs that make the overall Roanoke educational experience competitive and distinctive regionally and nationally.

  • Develop a Yale-style house system to integrate academic and co-curricular life.

  • Provide opportunities for athletics to ensure regional and national competitiveness.

Theme #3: To Embrace Our Leadership Role in and Relationship with the Roanoke Valley

We are blessed by our location in the magnificent Roanoke Valley and are committed to serving the Valley in ways that enhance the lives of its citizens and the learning of our students. We especially seek to build on the integration of the academic and residential experiences to make the Roanoke Valley a laboratory for student learning and engagement. Our relationship with the Roanoke Valley will be enhanced by strengthening many partnerships, including the following:

  • Enhance the intellectual and cultural life of the Valley though increasing the number and promotion of our lectures, performances and exhibitions.

  • Direct our intellectual and human resources to address local issues while expanding service learning and course project experiences. 

  • Connect alumni, parents, and corporations to career options and internships for students.

Theme #4: To Affirm that People Make the Difference

In the long history of the College, Roanoke's foundation comes to life in relationships. Our programs can only be as good as the people who imagine, develop, and enact them and they depend on quality interactions among faculty, staff, students and alumni. It is fitting, then, to uplift and support people at every level of the College with on-going initiatives, including the following:

  • Increase support for faculty scholarship and development. Support faculty seeking outside funding whenever possible.

  • Increase staff development opportunities.

  • Double the number of endowed professorships while striving to have endowed professorships in every department.

  • Provide compensation and professional development for faculty and staff commensurate with our national standing.

  • Increase racial, ethnic, geographic, and other forms of diversity among students, faculty, and staff so that Roanoke College prepares students for their futures.

  • Increase international student diversity in the student body.

Theme #5: To Support our Ambitions

Our goals and pursuits at Roanoke require wise use of resources and disciplined focus in utilizing those resources. We will support our ambitions by increasing modestly the size of the student body, by ambitious fund raising and prudent endowment management, and by development of our campus grounds and property for an optimal learning environment.

A. Enrollment

Roanoke College has grown steadily since 1954 at the rate of approximately one percent per year. Our goal is to continue growth of approximately one percent per year, fueled by improved retention and graduation of our students. Improved retention will derive from greater selectivity, more engaged students, and the programming found in Themes #1 and #2.

  • Increase the graduation rate to over 70% with a first-to-second year retention rate of 85% by 2017. These levels of student persistence will allow Roanoke to select students who best fit the College.

  • Increase the size of the full time student body from 1,927 in 2008 to 2,100 by 2017.

B. Financial Operations and Resources

Roanoke's financial strength is evident in our management of 54 consecutive years of balanced financial operations. We will continue our sound fiscal operation, provide the financial resources necessary to support an outstanding learning environment, allocate resources according to our priorities and seek new funding to realize our dream. Among our initiatives, we will:

  • Conduct the largest campaign in College history.

  • Increase the endowment to $150 million, thereby growing the endowment from $50,000 to $75,000 per student.

  • Diversify our revenue sources to enhance academic and co-curricular excellence.

C. Property

One of Roanoke's greatest assets is the physical attractiveness of the campus and our facilities. To ensure that Roanoke provides a state-of-the-art living and learning environment, we will make our campus one of the best in the nation, both aesthetically and functionally. We will focus our resources on providing excellent learning spaces in classroom and other buildings and emphasize the use of technology to enhance student learning.

  • Construct a new athletic and recreational center.

  • Renovate the science facility, Bast Center, and Alumni Gymnasium.

  • Renovate and expand residence life facilities.

  • Implement a landscaping master plan.

  • Increase the real estate resources of the College.

  • Provide first rate classrooms, laboratories, technology, and other spaces for an outstanding learning environment.


D. Align Reputation with Reality

The reality of educational quality at Roanoke is stronger than the reputation of the College. We will present Roanoke as one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges in as many ways as possible, including the following.

  • Promote the outstanding people, programs, and institutional qualities in a manner that brings deserved attention and recognition to Roanoke.

  • Focus our promotional efforts nationally and regionally.

E. Provide an Active and Engaged Process

Reaching our higher expectations for Roanoke will require our best thinking and most resourceful actions. As we consider new programs and ways to improve existing programs, we will study best practices found at leading liberal arts colleges in the nation to develop our own unique programs and pursuits. Achieving our vision of providing an educational program worthy of recognition as a top national liberal arts college requires that we have clear objectives. It also requires us to be open to new opportunities and objectives as they emerge over the course of implementing our plan.

Just as the process of creating this strategic plan has been intentionally inclusive, we want the process of pursuing our plan to be one that includes the Roanoke Community in every appropriate way. We will engage Board, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Students, and Friends of Roanoke in the future of the College.