Executive Summary

At Henderson State University we believe in the potential of every person to become extraordinary leaders and difference makers in society.  The university’s very foundation rests on its outstanding ability to educate first-generation college students and students from rural areas by harnessing the transformative power of higher education and making it available to any and all prospective students who desire to become educated.

The 2014-2020 strategic plan, Beyond the Horizon, builds upon this rich 124-year tradition while challenging us to build an even stronger university over the next six years and beyond.  Achieving the very ambitious goals outlined in the plan will require us to aim higher and to look farther as we imagine the Henderson State University of tomorrow.  We will navigate the current political landscape, public cynicism regarding higher education, decreasing state support, the ever-changing nature of our students and their preferred learning styles, and concerns regarding affordability and student success as we strive to work beyond the horizon by embracing change and seizing opportunities. 

The horizon is the farthest anyone can see into the future. In today’s rapidly changing world, however, we reach and surpass the horizon more rapidly than ever before, requiring higher education specifically to plan better and act faster to continue educating our students for a future we cannot see and can barely imagine. Thus, when Henderson began its strategic planning process in 2013, our goal was not only to stay true to our long, great tradition of educating students but also to look beyond the horizon to identify the strategies that will empower our students to excel in the future. Included in the final outcome of the plan are many bold ambitions that will significantly transform the university as we prepare for our next 125 years of service.  These lofty ambitions include

  • Doubling the six-year graduation rate and increasing all student success indicators
  • Strengthening existing academic programs while introducing outstanding new programs
  • Growing the enrollment to 5,000 students (10-year timeframe)
  • Providing peer-competitive faculty and staff compensation to attract and retain outstanding faculty
  • Doubling the size of the university’s endowment
  • Developing and implementing a comprehensive campus master plan
  • Implementing sustainability initiatives at all levels of the university
  • Raising the university’s overall profile as we strive to be formally recognized as one of the best public universities in the South.

Our plan begins with a statement of our core values, those timeless commitments that tie us to the past and will remain true regardless of what is beyond the horizon. Henderson, above all, is centered upon the success of the student, and to ensure that success we value academic excellence, collaboration and community, human difference, integrity, tradition and innovation, and the liberal arts education.

As we anticipate articulating the importance of these values to our students and the society which we serve, we adopted our vision statement and updated our mission statement to more clearly convey the university’s mission to the current and future generation of students. The Henderson educational experience has provided students with the foundation for personal and career success for over a century. As education becomes more closely tied with job opportunities, we wanted to specifically emphasize how Henderson prepares students for a lifetime of intellectual and personal growth that will enable career and personal success. By more deliberately integrating professional studies and the liberal arts, we will guide students to prepare for a career now as well as the career they cannot yet imagine.  This “liberal arts with a purpose” approach will ensure that the university will always be perceived as relevant in an environment of constant change and high public accountability.

Our mission, our vision, and our strategic plan, therefore, are intricately linked as we identify how best to successfully bridge the liberal arts and professional aspirations. A steering committee composed of faculty, staff, and administrators from areas throughout the university identified six key strategic priorities to address in order to prepare Henderson to realize our vision and to fulfill our mission:

  • Grow the Enrollment, Improve Student Life, and Increase Retention to Graduation;
  • Enhance Academic Programs;
  • Enhance the Quality of Life and the Ability to Recruit and Retain a Highly Qualified and Motivated Faculty and Staff;
  • Improve the Physical Environment and Infrastructure;
  • Expand and Diversify Revenues; and
  • Enhance Henderson’s Regional, State, and National Profile.
  1. Growing the enrollment, improving student life, and increasing retention to graduation is at the heart of our core values. Our strategies for this priority rest upon the belief that students benefit from an educational experience that will lead to degrees and prepare them for a lifetime of personal fulfillment and career success. Enhancing admission and enrollment programs will be critical to reaching our goal of 5,000 students. A coordinated first-year academic experience and a comprehensive student academic success program will give students the tools to succeed and stay in college their first year and beyond. Enhanced housing options will provide students with greater living comforts but also encourage participation in the university and community’s social and intellectual development opportunities. A comprehensive student engagement and development program will also contribute to these opportunities and assist students to make connections between their education within and beyond the classroom.
  2. Our excellent academic programs will be enhanced to match new and future career opportunities and to more deliberately bridge the liberal arts and professional aspirations. Developing new programs, seeking accreditation for new and existing programs, enhancing the Honors College, increasing experiential learning opportunities, and developing specific certificate programs all contribute to increasing the quality of our students’ education and expanding their opportunities. Additionally, increasing off-campus enrollment, online learning opportunities, and concurrent enrollment fulfills the needs of the communities we serve and a changing student population while granting more students greater access to a superior education.
  3. The quality of the education that students receive is determined by the motivation and quality of the faculty and staff. Improving total compensation, encouraging ongoing professional development, enhancing diversity, and ensuring an active and valued role in the organization are crucial strategies to enhancing the quality of life for faculty and staff and insuring integrity in the academic mission. This will enable Henderson to recruit and retain highly qualified faculty and staff to best serve our students in the classroom and beyond.
  4. An attractive, well-maintained campus is an essential component of a progressive, successful university, increasing the morale and pride of faculty, staff, and students, as well as providing the crucial infrastructure needed for teaching and engaging the students. To improve the physical environment and infrastructure, the strategic plan calls for a comprehensive, dynamic campus master plan; updated, state-of-the-art infrastructure systems including technology; and a commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
  5. Looking beyond the horizon, Henderson anticipates far less support from the state in providing for the needs and education of our students. Expanding and diversifying revenues are crucial to achieving the goals of this strategic plan and for placing Henderson in a position to succeed in that future. In this plan, Henderson will increase faculty, staff, and alumni giving, conduct a comprehensive fundraising campaign, establish an office of sponsored programs to coordinate and generate grant funding, and increase auxiliary revenue.
  6. Henderson wishes to be Arkansas’s best-kept secret no longer. Our education and our mission set us apart from other universities, and our goal is to enhance Henderson’s regional, state, and national profile so that many more people, from prospective students to lawmakers to potential employers of our students, will know this. In order to enhance our profile, we will develop a branding guide, redesign the website, strengthen relationships with external audiences, and launch an integrated media campaign.

Henderson’s strategic plan reacts to the transformations taking place in higher education and our region. More importantly, it proactively guides the university beyond the immediate environment to anticipate changes and embrace opportunities as they arise. Our traditional focus on our students and their success will not change, but the opportunities that Henderson will have to prepare them for their futures will. Beyond the horizon, we are certain that Henderson will be recognized as a national model for bridging the liberal arts and professional aspirations, producing well-rounded graduates who are leaders in their careers and communities.