The Strategic Plan


Our Ambition for Clarkson@125: Double Down on Clarkson’s Evolution to Excellence

Clarkson@125 is a renewed commitment to Clarkson University’s ongoing strategic planning that recognizes, celebrates and builds on our achievements. During the next eight years, we will double down on key objectives launched in the last decade to raise our academic excellence and theengagement of our students and alumni.

Clarkson University has the education that students need now to compete for the best jobs, and has a research portfolio that helps American companies drive innovation. The Evolution to Academic Excellence plan (2003-2013) put Clarkson on a national stage as a tremendous value for students and their future career success, expanded our alumni network and generated a measurable buzz around a vision to develop a new entity in higher education. A Clarkson education emphasizes the creation of knowledge for developing practical, sustainable solutions to today’s problems and thecommercialization of those solutions to create social and economic wealth.

In looking ahead to milestones that will define Clarkson at its 125th anniversary in 2021, Clarkson’s evolving strengths and vision for the future intersect precisely with the needs of our technologicallydriven society. We urgently need to extend our momentum and place our strategic bets in those areasthat turn our accomplishments into enhanced reputation and resources, and that continue to prepare our students for remarkably successful careers.

Our Primary Goals through 2017

In the first four years of Clarkson@125, we will focus on three primary goals for investment:

  • Expand the world reach and diversity of the Clarkson community;
  • Advance the prominence of research and scholarship; and
  • Build a best-of-class admission to graduation to alumni experience that assures lifetime engagement.

Our choice of goals to prioritize in the first four years of Clarkson@125 takes on the changing landscape in higher education where our peers and emerging competitors are not standing still. The most obvious pressure points include new modes of education, marketing efforts and massive open online courses from wellresourced institutions; cost pressures for students and educators alike; demographic shifts among college-bound students; and changes in government support as well as regulations. Clarkson graduates are increasingly competing for jobs in a diverse global workforce with responsibilities across numerous time zones and continents. This reality calls for new approaches in leadership skill building, strengthening teams through diversity, and cultural adeptness in global business and networking.

While U.S. technological institutions recently enjoyed a surge in enrollment based on the employability of their graduates, international universities are emerging as formidable competitors. Clarkson’s strong regional base with national recognition of activities establishes only a foundation to compete in the long-term for the most ambitious students and talented faculty. We must double down in our research enterprise. Research is the way to grow and sustain the high quality reputation we want. It drives the creation of new knowledge and innovation, and it underpins the ongoing evolution of our rigorous education. We must also extend our education ROI value proposition into new markets, including online collaboration and Internet-based learning as well as new geographies.

These goals also reflect work that remains to be done in building a lifelong continuum of engagementbeginning with prospective students. This process needs to start by taking a larger stake in inspiring K-12 students to pursue scientific and technical opportunities, with particular emphasis on underrepresented youth. Every opportunity must then be taken to engage matriculating students as alumni.

As surveyed in the last year, our alumni attribute much of their career success to what occurs inside the classroom as students and the co-curricular opportunities that hone their professional skills. Alumni who attend events, promote Clarkson regularly and give philanthropically reflect back on quite specific activities that enriched their campus experience: thoughtful advising and engagement; highimpact experiences such as study abroad; participation in sports and recreation; leadership development opportunities; and club activities. To impact current students and future alumni loyalty, we need to rapidly invest to make these experiences universal and give students an even more rewarding Clarkson experience.

Our alumni participation in giving programs and events has waned, particularly among young alumni,demanding a fresh approach to building a value proposition for recent graduates to stay involved. With our full support and enthusiasm, it is time for us to challenge alumni already engaged to reach out to their peers and networks to extend the opportunity for every alumnus to influence and support who Clarkson is and what the University will stand for at its 125th anniversary.

Our Chief Strategies to Support Achievement of our Goals

To ensure the achievement of these goals, we will rapidly deploy the following strategies in the next four years:

  • Expand the world reach and diversity of the Clarkson community:
    1. Target diversity recruitment efforts through partner organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers;
    2. Accelerate distance learning by appointing a faculty coordinator, finalizing licensing, and continuously tracking the development of MOOCs and other technology;
    3. Provide all students an international opportunity before they graduate
    4. Expand our international partnerships including more joint research programs; and
    5. Offer at least one foreign language in our curriculum.
  • Advance the prominence of research and scholarship across the institution:
    1. Hire additional research‐active faculty;
    2. Update labs, equipment and infrastructure; support grant writing and management;
    3. Introduce incentives for faculty to mentor research students;
    4. Leverage strengths in research and add degree programs that align to existing focus areas (Advanced Materials, Biotechnology, Environment & Energy, Entrepreneurship, Global Supply Chain Management) and that allow us to build new areas that cut across schools, such as Data Analytics and Advanced Manufacturing; and
    5. Increase innovation, technology transfer and commercialization.
  • Build a best‐of‐class admission to graduation to alumni experience that assures lifetime engagement:
    1. Develop a best‐in‐class admission to alumni engagement effort with support via increased staffing and enhanced resources for alumni activities and communications;
    2. Upgrade undergraduate advising and align with high‐impact experiential opportunities for students: SPEED, research, athletics, international travel, living communities;
    3. Expand summer offerings for K‐12 students with inclusion of current students and alumni;
    4. Tie K‐12 participation, admissions information, undergraduate advising and alumni outreach through an integrated relationship management initiative; and
    5. Advance leadership training for students, young alumni, faculty and staff.

Implementing these strategies will require resources. We will generate these through:

  • Maintaining or lowering Fall 2014 first‐year student discount rate;
  • New initiatives to engage our students and alumni to secure long‐term growth in annual giving, campaign donations and endowment gifts;
  • Development of new revenue streams from health sciences graduate programs and executive, distance, and corporate education; and
  • Increased efficiency and productivity of athletic venues, conference services, summer programs and admissions.

With the revenue return from these investments, we will support the overall strategic plan and ensure appropriate planned maintenance in facilities, infrastructure and research ventures; and increase the financial aid pool for underrepresented students.

Metrics: Hold Bets Won; Double Down on those Yet to Achieve

During the last decade, Clarkson has achieved success on key objectives that contribute to the high value of a Clarkson degree and that differentiate our approach to education and research. Recognizing that our competition never rests and that the game is always on across higher education, it is our aim to hold our own on these hard won successes, celebrate their significance, and recognize that we need to double down on new strategic bets and past aspirational objectives yet to be met. We must accelerate the pace of progress. The following metrics will bring focus to the tactics and operating plans to achieve the goals in Clarkson@125.

Expand World Reach & Diversity

  • Return on Education
    • We will hold the starting salaries of Clarkson graduates in the top five percent nationwide as published by PayScale since 2010; We will hold a 95 percent or higher placement rate into a field of study/aspiration for every graduate; We will hold our place as the US News #1 national university for internship experience: currently 86 percent of all students have one or more to include on a resume before graduation.
  • Diversity:
    • We will hold the percentage of students receiving Pell grant aid at 29 percent or higher as a measure of reaching an economically diverse population.


  • Diversity:
    • We will double down on our past efforts to increase the number of minority undergraduate students. We began in 2003 with fewer than seven percent minority students and moved to 12 percent in 2013. Our objective is to move to more than 14 percent by Fall 2017; and more than 18 percent by Fall 2021.
  • International Experiences:
    • We will double down on the number of students annually involved in international experiences from 165 in 2013 to 330 by 2021.

Advance the Prominence of Research & Scholarship


  • Undergraduate Research:
    • We will hold opportunities for more than 500 independent and faculty‐mentored undergraduate research projects annually.
  • New Business Starts:
    • We will hold our rate of start‐up projects through 2017: 45 to 55 per year.


  • Graduate School and Research:
    • To support our research enterprise, we will double enrollment in the graduate school going from 571 in Spring 2013 to 1000 by 2021. We will double research dollars from $16M to $32M by 2021.
  • US News Ranking:
    • We will double down on our external recognition of research and return on education in order to be ranked among the top 100 national universities in the next four years; in the top 70 by 2021. We began in 2003 in 2nd tier on an alphabetical list, moved to top tier listing in 2005 as #130 and to #115 in 2013.

Build a Best‐of‐Class Admission to Graduation to Alumni Experience that Assures Lifetime Engagement


  • Leadership in Philanthropy:
    • We will hold the leadership position in philanthropic support which has consistently approached 100 percent participation by members of the Board of Trustees, Alumni Council and Deans’ Leadership Councils.
  • Alumni send-off events:
    • We will hold the new alumni engagement tradition started in 2003 with alumni hosting incoming freshmen and their families at send‐off events held across the country.

Double Down:

  • Applications:
    • We grew undergraduate applications by more than 4000 in ten years to 6,600 today, and will double down on admissions activities to 9,000 in 2017; and to 12,000 in 2021.
  • Annual Giving and Endowment Growth:
    • We will double down on our fundraising initiatives for annual giving to grow from 15 percent participation now to more than 25 percent of all alumni making an annual philanthropic contribution by 2017; and 30 percent by 2021. Building from our past decade when the endowment grew from $84M (2003) to $169M (2013), we will grow this portfolio to $340M (2021).

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