LIONS Plan February Update

To the Campus Community:

Yesterday at noon, I held a meeting to launch working groups that will help implement the key elements of the LIONS budget and operational plan I outlined this past December. There are six groups in total. They are listed at the bottom of this message with their charge and membership.

In appointing group members, I consulted with the leadership of the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate, and Student Government. With their help, I have tried to ensure these working groups are representative of various campus schools and perspectives, while trying to keep them small enough to be effective.

Beyond the rosters listed below, these teams will undoubtedly need the expertise of colleagues from across the campus in order to fulfill their charges. If you are asked by a group to be a resource, please make the time to participate. If you aren’t asked but have ideas about any of the topics being explored, I encourage you to reach out to a member of the appropriate team. I want to emphasize these efforts are all meant to be transparent, inclusive, and open-minded.

Timeline: While we are, as I have said, in control of our own destiny, we do not have the luxury of time. Working groups have been asked to submit their plans by April 29 to allow their efforts to inform our budget planning for FY25. Next year’s budget must be balanced without drawing on reserve funds, so the timely completion of this work is essential. While I recognize this timeline is aggressive, it is finite, and I know we all look forward to moving beyond this period of uncertainty.

Assessment: The groups have not been asked to determine how and when to assess the new initiatives they are putting forth — their plates are full enough in the limited time available. I have, however, encouraged the groups to document any conversations they have regarding assessment in the course of their work. Such evaluation efforts are critical to the ongoing success of the college and the implementation of these plans. They will enable us to track progress towards our goals, make adjustments as necessary, and avoid miscalculations and unintended outcomes. We will insure timely and consistent evaluation of all our endeavors as we move forward with the LIONS plan.

State Support: I have been asked by many across the campus regarding our advocacy in Trenton for additional state support. I have shared that we continue to aggressively do just that. Our Trustees, government relations professionals, and AFT leadership have been meeting with elected officials to press for greater support in this and successive budgets. And they will continue to do so. That said, these efforts are not guaranteed beyond the year in which the funds are actually appropriated. They are not, therefore, a solution to our long-term financial challenges as of yet.

Future Updates: I have asked the working groups to provide monthly status reports by the first Mondays of March and April. In keeping with my promise to communicate throughout this process, I plan to send update messages shortly thereafter. Following the submission of the final reports on April 29, I will create opportunities for you to learn about the recommendations and plans going forward.

I would like to extend my profound thanks to all who have agreed to serve on a working group and to those of you who will assist them in this effort this spring.

As we embark on this next phase of our adjustment to changing circumstances, I urge us all to remember our college is not unique in facing extremely difficult problems. The challenges before us are characteristic today of virtually all of American public higher education. At the same time, TCNJ is truly exceptional in the skills, stamina, and courage its staff, faculty, students, and community-partners bring to the task of overcoming them.

If any institution can resolve present-day difficulties now ubiquitous in higher education, and do so in ways that are thoughtful, plan-full, and wholly consistent with its cherished values and celebrated mission, ours can.

And it will.

Yours Sincerely,

Michael Bernstein

Michael A. Bernstein

School of Continuing, Extended and Professional Studies

Develop a comprehensive business plan for new programs and initiatives to launch in FY25 – FY26 that will achieve targeted revenue growth beginning in FY26. Recommend, as appropriate, online program management (OPM) and marketing strategies. [Target Net Budget Impact: $550K in FY 26, increasing to $4M by FY28.]

Membership: Linda Mayger (Team Lead), Benny Chan, Ellen Farr, Megan Gordon, Matt Hall, Carole Kenner, Rich Schweigert/Mark Mehler, Stephen Tomkiel

Three-Year Bachelor’s Programs

Identify the programs that would lend themselves to a three-year model and work with appropriate schools/departments to develop a framework for degree requirements. Plan will include a market analysis, institutional financial impact report, and strategies to address any accreditation and/or state barriers. [Target Net Budget Impact: TBD.]

Membership: Lisa Grimm (Team Lead), Tim Clydesdale, Cecilia Colbeth, Jason Dahling, Heba Jahama, Erica Kalinowski, and Trevor O’Grady.

Community College Partnerships

Identify target community colleges and prioritize programs for collaboration. Socialize programs with TCNJ departments and schools. Resulting business plan will include a five-year institutional financial impact statement. [Target Net Budget Impact: TBD.]

Membership: Lisa Angeloni (Team Lead), Brittany Aydelotte, Tabitha Dell’Angelo, Raj Manimaran, Grecia Montero, and Natasha Patterson.

Faculty Responsibilities and the Core Curriculum

Conduct environmental scan on cutting edge core developments across higher education. Recommend new model(s) for faculty responsibilities aimed at preserving institutional values and priorities while reducing the use of adjuncts and achieving targeted institutional savings. Identify modifications to the undergraduate core curriculum, resulting in a reduction of the overall number of units required, the writing and foreign language requirements. Resulting plan to include phasing that allows for full implementation by the start of the fall 2025 term. [Target Net Budget Impact: $4.5M to $5M.]

Membership: Suzanne McCotter, Abby O’Connor, and Matt Wund (Co-Leads) in partnership with the Council of Deans and the Faculty Senate

Library Operations

Examine national trends in higher education library usage as well as TCNJ student and faculty usage data to identify opportunities to meet evolving student needs, and to realize significant efficiencies in operations. [Target Net Budget Impact: $2.5M.]

Membership: Taras Pavlovsky (Team Lead), Erin Ackerman, Jackie Anderson, Sharon Blanton, Seung Hee Choi, Jamal Johnson, Dylan Nguyen, Joe O’Brien, Kim Pearson

Student Programming and Auxiliaries

Research best-practice student affairs programs and housing initiatives across higher education. Develop a business plan that details modifications to programs and structure to address future needs and realize targeted savings and efficiencies. [Target Net Budget Impact: $1M.]

Membership: Sean Stallings (Team Lead), Jill Bush, Aria Chalileh, Andrew Clifford, Ivonne Cruz, Amanda DeMartino, Annmarie Ekladious, Elizabeth Gallus, Sunita Kramer