Impact: Strategic Direction Three


Merrimack’s core reputation is anchored by its undergraduate residential college. This undergraduate experience has the amazing responsibility, ability and capacity to alter the direction of a young person’s life through education, exposure and opportunity.

The base of this capacity is its physical campus, its ability and innovate and work as one organization and on its undergraduate educational programs. When these three areas work in harmony its impact on the lives of its students, their families and their communities is exponentially enhanced.

Strategic Initiative 7

Invest in campus planning, space and renovations strategically and use innovative student spaces to improve student learning outcomes, support program and institutional growth, enhance the overall level of student satisfaction and support faculty-sponsored research activities

How students learn, how faculty teach and conduct research, and where students live and collaborate with faculty continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace — forcing Merrimack’s campus to change and adapt. Spaces that are interactive, tech empowered and flexible and allow for collaborative engagement are key to the success of a modern college campus and its students. Collaborative learning and teaching are driving the design and construction of college campuses. Shared spaces for living, working and study are the future for American colleges and universities because they break down barriers and encourage collaboration between students and faculty across disciplines.

Merrimack must continue to evolve as a residential undergraduate college, acknowledging that technology pervades all models of learning and that community learning is the future, while at the same time we must respond to the growing needs of graduate students and research faculty. This requires renovated shared spaces, new innovative and adaptable spaces and the creation of the right incentive models for schools/deans to spur innovation and enrollment growth. Thus, we must use our space efficiently and collaboratively as well as increase our capacity over the next five years.

Aspirational Outcomes

CREATE a public-private partnership to build a campus residential village with housing for 500–1,000 students.

BUILD new interdisciplinary, core shared research, and specialty innovation spaces on campus to support the expansion of teaching, learning and research in the STEAM and health science areas.

CREATE new renovated flex spaces, which can be devoted to collaborative projects on a rotating, temporary basis and support and promote research and teaching across the curriculum.

CREATE a centralized and vibrant graduate education and research hub to enhance graduate student life, culture. and support faculty research and development activities.

ADD and improve general classrooms, teaching, research and student study spaces.

CREATE and renovate student entertainment, food concession and study spaces that improve both residential and commuter campus life.

Strategic Initiative 8

Work as one college to improve the lives and wellness of students, faculty, staff and our local
community. Continue our tradition of leadership and engaged practice by becoming the model of an integrated and effective college. Share best practices and extend capacities across campus and throughout our region to have a greater impact and better outcomes for those we serve.

We will build an institution that creates a welcoming environment for all peoples and identities and those of less-privileged backgrounds. Our diversity equity, and inclusion efforts seek to create meaningful, systemic change toward more equitable environments for everyone who works, learns or graduates from Merrimack College.

Aspirational Outcomes

CREATE new policies and initiatives to foster greater collaboration, accountability and ownership across units, programs, and divisions.

DEVELOP the incentive models for vice presidents, vice provosts, and deans to spur innovation and grow on-campus and online learning. Incentivize and reward the development of new ideas and innovation at the faculty, department and school level using reallocated workload and financial incentives.

INVEST in new enterprise systems and business processes that facilitate standardization of data and shared analytics that inform decision-making across the institution and inspire greater ownership, accountability, better decision-making and improved risk management.

IMPROVE communication and deeper engagement with alumni, industry, employees and students.

CREATE a culture of innovation, assessment and effectiveness in the use of technology and data to support teaching, learning, academic advising and career counseling.

CREATE and institutionalize new ways and methods for collecting, evaluating and disseminating data about our educational effectiveness and impact on students.

CREATE budget processes, systems and models that allow for “responsibility-centered management” and more budget autonomy and accountability.

IMPROVE employee productivity, flexibility and resource allocation by enabling remote working where and when appropriate, especially if student success is enhanced.

ENCOURAGE, sustain and reward our employees and enhance their morale, invest in their futures.

Strategic Initiative 9

Be recognized for our excellence in undergraduate teaching, residential life and undergraduate student outcomes including improvements in student satisfaction, retention and graduation rates. We will encourage innovative and sustainable new ways to improve outcomes in the classroom, in student’s spiritual and social lives, and in career placement while emphasizing the responsibility of all graduates to place the knowledge, skills, and abilities they acquire and develop through their Merrimack education at the service of the common good of the human community.

We will clearly articulate and reinforce our value proposition and the specific characteristics we offer that set us apart from our competitors by providing an undergraduate education that maintains our attractiveness and academic excellence to our traditional student market of high school students from New England and expands our geographic and socioeconomic appeal.

Aspirational Outcomes

CREATE and revise a core curriculum that all undergraduates will partake in, which places select liberal arts components at the center of a student’s intellectual, humanistic, spiritual and emotional formation as a conscientious and connected human being.

CONTINUE to innovate our undergraduate curriculum to foster agency, intentionality, and responsibility in all of our students.

DEEPEN student ownership of their personal, professional and intellectual trajectories and embracement of their role as engaged citizens of local, national and global communities.

HIRE additional full-time faculty to support and enhance undergraduate teaching and improve the status, involvement and appreciation for the adjunct faculty role at Merrimack.

PROVIDE expanded opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in research collaboration with each other and with faculty across and between all schools.

FOCUS on undergraduate career preparedness and workplace competencies by providing students in all undergraduate majors with opportunities and resources to help them secure post-graduate employment (e.g., the Internship Institute, professional development retreats and cooperative education).

CREATE and invest in strong and vibrant programs to enrich the academic experience and improve retention by focusing on enhanced academic services and communities (Compass, Promise, Austin Scholars, the Honors Program, Global Education, school-based service centers, Accessibility Services, etc.).

RETHINK how we “deliver” undergraduate education so that students and faculty benefit from increased flexibility in where and how courses are taught, and outcomes are enhanced to capitalize on strong student interest in maintaining an essential core of on-ground courses (with a residential experience) that are supplemented with hybrid and remote content.

ADDRESS the wellness and mental health of incoming generations of students by providing scaffolded experiences that are integrated into curricular and non-curricular activities, including activities that help develop resilience through spirituality which is capable of withstanding the complicated, unrelenting and at times dehumanizing stressors of 21st-century life.