Three initiatives implemented here at Drury University might help others facing similar issues.
Initiative #1: Drury Fusion — Our blended learning experiences
We’re “Going Beyond” to offer students a bold new academic experience–one that breaks the mold of single majors and rigid formulas most often associated with traditional education. This new program guarantees that all students will receive a blend of life credentials and career credentials, allowing them to pursue their intellectual passions while acquiring the tools they need to be technically proficient and career-ready.
To do this we’ve implemented specialized certificate programs. Students will earn at least two certificates–professional or “life”–that build on their intellectual interests, help them gain knowledge and skills, but also help them learn how to apply them.
With 14 planned certificate programs, including Comparative Mythology, Interactive Design, Christian Ethics, the Politics of Food, Neurodiversity in Life, and the Social Science of Wrongful Convictions, students can design their own learning path by bundling certificates. For example, a student majoring in architecture might also get a certificate in Graphic Storytelling. A business major might get a certificate in Holistic Health and Well Being. The combinations are unique to each student.
This intentional blend will give Drury graduates a broader perspective as they consider matters of career, life, community, self, and service. It allows students to add value to a bachelor’s degree and fully leverage their Drury experience to help them achieve their goals. At Drury, we want our students to have the opportunity to work on building solutions to real life problems.
Initiative #2: Technology upgrades to improve the student experience
The quickening crush of new devices coming to schools–the typical student brings an average of five to seven devices to campus–brought us to a clear realization that our existing residential network was straining under the new load. It was frustrating current students and was a ticking time bomb that could discourage potential students from attending Drury.
Realizing that we were in an escalating “arms race” of technology expectations, and facing the budgetary realities of a small, private, liberal arts university, we decided to partner with higher education specialist Apogee to upgrade and strengthen our existing ResNet solution.
Drury now has a fully-managed white glove service that takes care of the entire residential network from installation, maintenance, support, upgrades, and everything in between. We enjoy a state-of-the art wireless environment in all the on-campus residences, at a majority of the off-campus apartments, and across campus at a capacity that more than support our students’ appetite for devices. We also have an expanded offering of local, extended, and premium cable channels. With 24/7/365 support that includes access to network engineers, our needs are continually met day or night.
Now our students enjoy an enhanced technological experience from a managed provider–with virtually no complaints about connectivity issues–and expanded entertainment options, while Drury‘s technical staff are able to focus more fully on strategic initiatives such as enhancing and improving technology in the classrooms. Ready access to technology is no longer a “nice to have”–it is a competitive advantage that leads to greater sustainability and retention.
Initiative #3: A classroom platform for the future
We’re also hard at work positioning a new academic platform that uses technology and emphasizes smaller, reflective, more personal learning experiences, adaptive learning environments, and seminar-style spaces. New physical spaces will be informed by current programs, planned future programs and research-based modern pedagogies. For example, these plans include a new Design Enterprise Solution Center (DESC) with a Cyber Fusion and Security Lab, a data Analytics, E-Commerce, and Social Media Experimentation Lab, a simulation of the Wall Street Trading Floor, Maker Spaces and Design Labs, collaborative small group project spaces and resources for student business and social entrepreneurial startups, and much more. All of this will be anchored by a new Breech School of Business.
In addition, we are creating a new Compass Center as a centralized space in the DESC where advisers, career counselors, job placement professionals, and life coaches will work with students to help them discover and realize their aspirations for life and profession.
Size doesn’t matter
Colleges and universities face daunting challenges on our paths to ensure financial sustainability. At Drury University, institutional leaders are taking the approach that small colleges can use creative solutions to transform their campuses while giving themselves a competitive advantage.
Our motto of “Go Beyond” inspires us to continuously optimize both our learning experiences and the campus itself, and our success proves that size doesn’t matter when it comes to finding ways to sustainability.