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Action Plan Presentation

President Hawkinson presented the results of Kutztown University's Action Plan to the State System Board of Governors on July 10, 2017. Below is the presentation, as well as the PowerPoint slides.

Action Plan Presentation: July 10, 2017

it's Good to Be Golden. Action Plan Highlights President Kenneth S. Hawkinson

View the slides from the
action plan presentation


Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity to present to you Kutztown University's Action Plan. 

Since beginning my tenure as the 12th president on July 1, 2015, I established 53 initiatives for the institution focusing on nine areas -- such as academic excellence, enrollment management and student success, and expanding educational opportunity and access. 

In my early conversations with the State System, it was brought directly to my attention the concern regarding the quality of our freshmen cohorts; specifically, as reflected in the financial risk assessment, our greatest weaknesses were our Brand Strength and Matriculation, as they pertain to the percentage of students in the top tiers of their high school graduating class. 

I committed to changing this trend by instituting policy changes, creating scholarships for high performing students, and improving the university brand. I will outline in the following presentation the initiatives and analysis my administration has developed and implemented in direct response to these risks. Along with the standard reporting categories, I believe this presentation will illustrate a concrete example of how the financial risk assessment indicators results in new initiatives and change at the university being assessed - in this case, Kutztown University. 


First - A few highlights of updates and accomplishments over the past year. 

University Brand The creation of the new KU brand has involved numerous and ongoing research efforts and months of creative development, while including the participation of over 3,000 students, faculty, staff and others from across campus and in our community. This new brand will provide us with a new way to tell our story and highlight many points of pride. The brand goes back to our roots as a university -- celebrating our first generation students and students who come from working class families, where strong character leads to hard work - to the fact that they have "grit." Ultimately, this important effort will be crucial in helping us to attract more students to KU. 
Improved academic Profile of fall 2016 incoming class The results of our efforts to achieve higher academic excellence has been the first increase in our academic profile since 2008. The average SAT of our freshman class was 981 - 12 pts higher than fall 2015. And the average GPA has increased to 3.19 from a low of 3.03 in recent years. 

Improved scholarship awarding In conjunction, you are aware of our new scholarships - these have resulted in a 35% increase in those students who have an SAT of 1350 or above; and an 18% increase of those with 1200 or above. 
Improved graduation rates Not only are we enrolling students with an improved academic profile, we are also focused on graduating our students within 4 years. Our 4-year graduation rate has increased to 39%, four points higher than the prior year. Ensuring that students graduate within four years decreases excess credit accumulation and lessens debt upon graduation. 

Alternative tuition 
Out-of-state and International students now pay tuition at 150% of the instate tuition rate. Our analysis has shown that these students have a higher academic profile and retain at higher rates. 

Enhanced Webpage Design
University Relations directed the development of our new, responsive, attractive homepage which was completed in the spring. Feedback from key campus constituents was gathered in fall 2015 resulting in a full screen site with enhanced news items and photos and additional links. We have begun the process to redesign the balance of the website. 

Ed.D in Transformational Teaching and Learning 
We are pleased that the first cohort enrolled in the Ed.D in Transformational Teaching and Learning will begin their program in fall 2017. We have many students on waiting lists for future cohorts. 

Community Outreach
Kutztown University is committed to providing Community Outreach Programming sharing the talents of the faculty and students and the facilities of the university. 

MyTime Dining 
MyTime dining is a program unique at KU among PA universities. This program allows students unlimited access to newly renovated dining facilities on a 24 x 7 basis. Student satisfaction with KU's dining program has soared since the implementation of this program. 

Alumni Involvement
 The KU Foundation & Alumni Relations provides dozens of fun, exciting activities targeted at virtually every demographic group including new graduates, young professionals, alums with families, older alumni and those with specific interests such as art, music, athletics or history. 


As I mentioned earlier, it was identified through the financial risk assessments that, of KU's first-time freshmen, only approximately 40% were in the top two tiers of their high school graduating class. The system average is approximately 50%. More concerning, on average, 23% graduated in the bottom two tiers of their high school class. This leads to concerns regarding academic preparation, motivation, and persistence through their higher education career. Since identifying this disparity, KU has put in place a number of initiatives to raise the percentage of students enrolling from the top two tiers of their graduating class, and in turn increase our selectivity, retention, persistence, and graduation rates, and ultimately, the university brand. 

A sample of new initiatives follows: 

1. Hire a Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs a. The divisions of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs had been eliminated as unique areas some years before my arrival. I have reconstituted these areas and are making significant changes in these units. We have hired a talented new vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, whose has experience in the urban and rural communities of our region. 

2. Recruiting initiatives to enhance number and quality of student body - we established a number of recruiting initiatives for example:

a. We reorganized our admissions area and placed a full-time recruiter in Philadelphia at the City Center. 

b. We are working with the Allentown and Reading school districts to re-introduce special programs to recruit more students from these important population centers. I'm delighted to announce that we have just been awarded a 1.3 million dollar Upward Bound grant with the Allentown School district. 

c. We established free "bus passes" from urban areas for students who need public transportation to travel to the university. 

d. A Math placement test for incoming freshmen and transfer students is now part of our orientation programing. 

e. Lastly, we trained Alumni Board members to participate in college fairs and high school visits. 

3. Raise Admission Standards a. Admission standards have been raised at KU helping to significantly raise the academic profile of our freshman class. As a result, our denial rate for fall 2016 increased by 9% over fall 2015, which also increases our selectivity profile. 

4. Two Year Housing Requirement a. We have put a new housing requirement in place for freshman and sophomores. Our research shows a 14% change increase in retention rates when students reside on campus for the first two years. 

5. Create/Revise Scholarships for High Achieving Students 

a. We have established several tiers of scholarships for high achieving students. 

b. We are also providing new scholarship initiatives wherein "need" plays a major factor. 

c. Housing scholarships have been established for high achieving incoming freshman student athletes. 

d. Talent grants have been established for high achieving incoming freshman in the arts. 

e. Again, we revised tuition rates for out of state and international students at 150% of in-state tuition. i. It was identified via the state system dashboards that KU's out-of-state students graduate in four years at a 6% higher rate than in-state students. 

f. The university purchased a predictive analytics tool - Rapid Insight - to further meet the objective of improving the profile of our student body. This tool allows us to use 88 variables in determining where to recruit so as to attract our desired pool of students. 

6. Enhance the Honors Program a. Students receiving academic achievement scholarships are required to be in the honors program and to live in the residence halls for 3 years to serve as role models for their fellow students. 

7. Develop new Marketing Campaign a. As explained earlier, we have completely revised our brand and are in the process of rolling out a major new marketing campaign. 

I have no doubt that great things are coming for Kutztown University. 


Even with a bright future ahead, we must continue to be attentive and responsive to persistent obstacles. 

1. There continues to be increased competition for college-bound and transfer students 

2. The University continues to have a revenue/expense imbalance. We were in budget deficit for FY17 and are currently in deficit for FY18. 

3. Kutztown is moving forward with a review of our general education curriculum to align with system regulations of 42-48 credit hours in order to support timely completion, and fluid transfer, for our students. 

4. Insufficient funding is provided for the necessary deferred maintenance of our infrastructure; though, we have an obligation to comply with federal and state health, safety, and ADA needs of our university community, as well as changing expectations of our students. 

5. Along with the initiatives we have already put in place and our strategic enrollment management plan, retention will continue to be a target for improvement. 

6. We are all aware of the budget challenges facing the commonwealth and its funding of higher education. As other presidents have pointed out... the recent unfunded contractual agreements have put an enormous strain on the university's financial health. 


As you can see, Kutztown has begun work on many initiatives. With regard to the indicators -- brand strength and matriculation -- which refer to our academic quality, we hope we have shown to you today that we are making progress in these areas and are committed to lowering our risk. 

Based on our 2017-2020 Strategic Enrollment Management plan, we believe that our initiatives will allow us to attract 450 new students over the next three years, increase our first year retention and continuation rates, ensure that students who enroll at KU make timely progress, and, ultimately, achieve a stable, sustainable enrollment. 

We recently concluded our sesquicentennial and are dedicated to continue to serve our students, faculty and staff, alumni and community, for another 150 years.