Arcadia 2025 Adaptive Strategy


Revised September 8, 2020

A Balanced Approach

Because Arcadia has been in a highly active state of development for the past two years, this Adaptive Strategy contains tactical details as part of its articulation. Strategic goals remain appropriately ambitious and innovative in nature and present different and new approaches to advancing an area of interest. In total, they represent a longer-term (two-to-four years) directive, are aligned with the Arcadia Vision, and focus on long-term success. Strategic goals require active leadership by the President’s Cabinet for execution, working closely with next-level managers.

Through extensive scenario planning, our Adaptive Strategy represents a balance of actions focused on operational effectiveness, pilots or experiments that can be ramped up or scaled down quickly, and large-scale commitments where there is increasing clarity around a planned scenario in the face of uncertainty. Working collaboratively with the Board of Trustees, the administration will implement a cycle of execution, monitoring, adaptation, and potential redirection that will move Arcadia toward the most advantageous high-impact opportunities.

Data-Informed Culture, Continuous Assessment, and Interconnectedness

The Adaptive Strategy’s themes, goals, and objectives include many points of interconnectedness that will help us build more integrative approaches to complex initiatives that, along with their key performance indicators (KPIs), readily embrace goals and objectives found under other themes that will work to achieve desired outcomes. Through extensive and regular assessment and scenario planning in all levels of planning, the University will use cutting-edge software to align, organize, document, report, and monitor our actions. This system will support a data-informed adaptive strategy, program review, accreditation, and managing academic and administrative outcomes.

College, Departmental, and Divisional Alignment

The four Themes and associated strategic goals capture a series of objectives and initiatives that are threaded throughout the Adaptive Strategy and cut across all of our colleges, departments, and divisions. With support and direction from the Office of Strategic Initiatives and the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, departments will further align their strategy with the University’s strategic direction and provide annual reports to ensure accountability. The University will produce a comprehensive annual report to document progress.

Financial Sustainability

Once the strategic direction was approved in February by the Board, we have continued our work with the Board and community to align an adaptive multi-year business plan, further develop risk profiles for initiatives, solidify KPIs, continue work on a Campus Master Plan, and develop a collaborative system with the Board to monitor and respond to uncertainties. The strategic direction and associated goals, objectives, and initiatives in this document were prioritized because they will enable or directly contribute to student success and increased revenue. The Provost and Chief Financial Officer will work through our new budget governance process, and with the Finance and Infrastructure Committee of the Board, to align our strategic direction with the proposed fiscal year 2021 operating and capital budgets and a five-year business plan. We will seek approval in May for the fiscal year 2021 capital and operating budgets as well as a five-year business plan which supports the strategic direction, with the understanding that the adaptive nature of the strategy calls for periodic reviews that may result in redirection of strategy and associated resources.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Theme Team leaders and identified initiative owners will undertake a process that articulates the specific metrics (e.g., number of persons, percent of matriculants) as well as target dates for completion. These specific data points will then be entered into a dynamic online strategic management system that will be actively managed and monitored by staff and administration. In addition, the initiative-level KPIs will inform a smaller set of plan-level KPIs that will more efficiently enable us to measure success. Status reports will be regularly generated from the strategic management system and provided to key stakeholders and Board committees for review.

Risk Analysis and Mitigation

Our Adaptive Strategy implementation process will include performing risk analyses of potential threats and shifts coming from both external and internal contexts. With direct involvement by members of the Board of Trustees and with community support, our leadership team will work to monitor and consider key uncertainties (e.g., business model risks, reputational risks, operating model risks, enrollment supply risks, compliance risks) and related signposts (e.g., KPIs) that will ensure our adaptability and antifragility as an organization.