Growth at Merrimack College

Every organization must grow. Strategic Direction 1 of the Agenda for the Future emphasizes growth and includes three strategic initiatives to help the College continue to transform. 

Merrimack seeks to grow its enrollments, its reputation and its core activities by expanding further into graduate education and sponsored research, by embarking upon a record-setting fundraising campaign, and by building upon its recent success of creating an innovative, academically excellent culture of teaching and learning and improving upon its rising reputation and ranking.

Strategic Initiative 1

Ensure the institution is innovative, opportunistic and growth-oriented by supporting an entrepreneurial culture that nurtures academic excellence, scholarship and service, which also earns distinction, increased reputation and enrollment growth. Position the College to be resilient in the face of increasing demographic and economic change.

We will pursue areas of distinction and enrollment growth where we can compete and excel and where we can effectively respond to market demands, changing demographics, societal shifts and evolving student dynamics. We will develop new and/or expand student-centered signature academic programs that provide Merrimack with a competitive market advantage and allow us to meet emerging needs while addressing urgent societal issues.

Aspirational Outcomes

INCREASE the traditional undergraduate student population to 4,200 students.

EXPAND graduate education to 1,800 students.

ENROLL 500 professional/continuing studies students.

ACHIEVE top thirty U.S. News & World Report Northeast Comprehensive University ranking by 2025 and improve our specialty rankings in Engineering, Service Learning, Social Mobility and Innovation.

LAUNCH new market-oriented, high-demand undergraduate majors to maintain current enrollment levels and, when possible, increase enrollments in the areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics), creative practice industries, educational and social science fields, and allied health and business.

LEVERAGE traditionally strong programs in Liberal Arts like political science, economics, communication and psychology to create new interdisciplinary programs with professional programs.

GROW online and part-time, professionally-oriented graduate education programs to reach new student populations and generate new revenues through the expansion and/or launch of online adult and continuing education programs.

EXPLORE potential acquisitions or capital investments that can accelerate our ability to enter or expand our reach into emerging and rapidly growing markets, such as remote and lifelong learning.

ENSURE athletics participant and spectator experiences match those of our peers and support our new status as a Division 1 institution as well as increasing undergraduate enrollments through a marching band and new sports such as bowling and esports.

Strategic Initiative 2

Expand the College’s value proposition for graduate students, employers and research-oriented faculty members by growing graduate education, increasing extramurally and industry-funded research and decreasing the College’s dependence on undergraduate revenues.

Merrimack College is, by definition, a medium-sized comprehensive graduate university that is quickly becoming a “multiversity,” as defined by Clark Kerr. As Kerr noted, a “multiversity” focuses on research, teaching and service across all its disciplines and departments and colleges. It emphasizes the undergraduate residential experience while also integrating graduate education with research.

Merrimack currently has a significant number of faculty members engaged in research and scholarship, and in some limited areas, it is conducting sponsored research at high levels. The College must invest, promote and encourage expansion into graduate education and better support and incentivize research, especially sponsored research, to enhance its reputation, create a graduate and research culture, and increase graduate enrollments.

Aspirational Outcomes

TRANSFORM a predominantly undergraduate institution to a university culture that integrates graduate education with research across all aspects of the institution.

INCREASE extramural research expenditures to $5.0 million annually and improve the infrastructure for sponsored research and grants.

INCREASE the number of faculty members engaged in research, innovation, scholarship and sponsored research and create institutional models that incentivize and reward faculty grant production through matching dollars, reallocation of teaching loads and the prioritization of research space.

RECRUIT new sponsored research-oriented faculty members within key clusters of excellence who can lead sponsored research projects, serve as principal investigators and mentor younger faculty.

DEVELOP strategic self-sustaining centers/institutes as a means to promote research and build our research reputation while serving as a catalyst for future academic units. Such centers could include:
− Public Health & Health Education
− Life and Environmental Sciences
− Family & Small Business
− Computational Sciences and Engineering
− Innovation, Technological & Social Entrepreneurship
− Social and Community Policy
− Interdisciplinary Studies

ENCOURAGE the development of select professional doctoral programs to move the institution toward a new Carnegie classification of Doctoral/ Professional Universities, which would define the College as a “moderate research,” teaching and scholarly focused professional doctorate university by 2030.

CREATE technology transfer, patent and commercialization policies.

INCUBATE social and business startup activities that can be commercialized and expanded. IMPROVE graduate student services and experiences.

CREATE internally and externally funded graduate student fellowships and tools for expanding graduate research support.

ENCOURAGE and design models that increase the share of undergraduate students taking graduate courses and working on faculty-led research projects.

Strategic Initiative 3

Generate new resources to support the College’s growing stature and impact within the communities it serves, the faculty it supports, and the student populations it attracts, enrolls and graduates.

We will invest in a range of activities that will assist the College in providing resources to students to improve access and opportunity and to faculty to allow them to engage in research that will impact their disciplines as well as our broader community and region.

Aspirational Outcomes

BUILD the capacity and capability to grow fundraising by engaging alumni, parents, foundations and corporations in new and creative ways.

EMBARK on a new ten-year $100 million comprehensive campaign that supports the priorities of the Agenda for the Future.

RAISE significant endowment support for Pioneer Scholars as well as unrestricted support to allow the College the flexibility to meet the changing needs of our students EXPAND corporate engagement and sponsorships to support research, athletics and career placement of students.

EXPAND corporate engagement and sponsorships to support research, athletics and career placement of students.

INCREASE the number and quality of internships/co-ops for undergraduate and graduate students from Fortune 500 companies and leading nonprofit organizations.

ATTRACT partners and sponsors who will bolster the success of the College through their investment in our growth, mission and impact.

PROTECT our downside risk by diversifying our sources of tuition revenue (e.g., online, graduate, bachelor’s completion, summer education, sponsored research, external grants).