Transformation Through Expanding Academic Excellence
From Continuing Education to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies
The initiation and promotion of accelerated adult degree programs helped spearhead the growth of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies to today’s national and mainly online approach.
When President Manning took the helm of then-Villa Julie College in 2000, he helped develop a niche strategy of offering more career-focused programs and adult accelerated undergraduate programs. The Advanced Technology Education Center, which offered software development and certificate programs, was replaced with accelerated undergraduate bachelor’s degree programs under the name the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. Paralegal studies was the first addition, followed by business administration, business information systems, computer information systems, and the RN to BS in Nursing option. Accelerated graduate programs in forensic science and forensic studies were next developed. Prior to this point, all of the undergraduate and graduate programs were offered in a hybrid format, which combined classroom and online instruction.
By fall 2006, the forensic studies program was offered fully online, followed by the RN to BS program. As more programs moved in that direction, the School created its own instructional design unit. By 2012, the nursing programs were online as was the criminal justice program. Now, around 80 percent of the School’s programs are online and other programs are moving in that direction.
Over time, the School grew large enough that it began holding its own Commencement. In January 2012, it enrolled its 1,000th student—a major milestone for a School that is still evolving. Its increasing online presence now allows recruiting efforts to expand nationally and internationally. In 2011, the admissions team made 120 recruiting visits, compared to a total of 36 the previous year. The team also continues to work locally, holding monthly meetings with the admissions teams from local community colleges and creating partnerships with local organizations, such as hospitals. The School also made a splash on the global stage on Sept. 30, 2014, when Stevenson debuted its first MOOC, or massive open online course, A Survey of Forensics. This free, non-credit educational course was open to students of all ages who sought to learn about forensics. More than 700 registrants representing 41 countries participated.
Academic Year Themes
Each year since 2000, University administrators, through thoughtful consideration, have chosen an academic year theme that will best represent Stevenson’s values, mission, and contributions to the community. These themes are emphasized during the academic calendar year, from colorful banners on the campuses to articles and other publications.
Some examples of the diversity of these themes include Transformation; Imagine Your Future, Design Your Career; Arts in the Valley; Saluting Stevenson Scholars; The Year of Career; and The Stevenson Way.
Villa Julie marked its 60th anniversary with the first Founders Day celebration on Oct. 1, 2007.
President’s Advisory Council Case Studies
Members of the University’s First President’s Advisory Council
James T. Brady
Maryland Department of Business and Development
President and Chief Executive Officer
Howard S. Brown
David S. Brown Enterprises
Anthony W. Deering
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Rouse Company
Gary T. Dicamillo
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Jerome W. Geckle
Chairman of the Board, Retired
Robert S. Hillman, Esq.
Whiteford, Taylor & Preston
Francis X. Kelly
Chairman and CEO
Kelly and Associates Insurance Group Inc.
Edward J. Ludwig
Vice President of Finance and Controller
Becton, Dickinson and Company
George L. Russell, Jr., Esq.
Piper & Marbury, LLP
Oliver S. Travers, Jr.
President’s Advisory Council members discuss a recent case study about a University issue at a biannual breakfast forum.
The members of the President’s Advisory Council (PAC), a group of professionals and friends from all backgrounds, serve the University by sharing their knowledge and experience to help keep Stevenson thriving. The original PAC, modified in 2002 to its current structure, consisted of 11 members; today, there are 60. One way in which the Council contributes is by providing feedback on special campus case studies created in a Harvard Business School fashion. Some of the more memorable—and impactful—studies include two about the University’s name change, one about the decision to add a football team, and one about starting the University Archives. In each case, the PAC was given a set of questions deemed important to guiding future decisions.
For example, for the decision to change the institution’s name and become a university, the PAC was asked: 1. One of the major opportunities for VJC is to consider a name change of the College at the same time as becoming a university. What stakeholder groups should be involved in this name study part of the process? 2. Since one of the goals of the name/university status change will also be to attract increasing numbers of out-of-state students, what external constituent groups should be further studied to determine the effectiveness of any proposed name change? 3. As a university, a new and more decentralized academic structure will be necessary. What structure would make the most sense for the College? 4. What are some of the most effective means to generate excitement and rapid awareness of a university status and name change for the College once the process is completed? The answers to these questions helped to provide a foundation for further research of the need for a change to both the name and status of Villa Julie College.
Name Change and Branding
The Stevenson University seal was created in 2008 after the name change. It incorporates both the spirit of Villa Julie College’s philosophy (“Pro Discendo, Pro Vivendo”—For Learning, For Living) and its origins (the Seven Oaks estate).
On June 11, 2008, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of Villa Julie College to Stevenson University. The decision to change the name came at a point when administrators decided that Villa Julie College had grown so exponentially since its founding in 1947 that the name no longer accurately described the institution.
For more than three years, this decision was carefully considered. During this time, it was also decided that the word “college” no longer defined the institution that had evolved; therefore, university status was voted upon by the Board of Trustees in November 2006.
This three-year process was an exciting time as the newly defined university deliberated on the most appropriate new name for the institution. Diverse constituents were given the opportunity to suggest ideas, and extensive research was conducted among employers, guidance counselors, and prospective students and their parents. Alumni, parents, students, and friends reviewed the resulting data and shared their thoughts. The final consensus clearly directed the administration to the appropriate new name: Stevenson University.
The name Stevenson University was chosen for its perceptions of tradition, history, and academic quality—three hallmarks of the Villa Julie spirit. Importantly, the name also maintained a geographical connection to the founding location of Villa Julie in Stevenson, Md. The Villa Julie name endures as the Villa Julie College of Arts and Sciences on the original campus in Stevenson, which is now referred to as the Greenspring Campus.
Following the name change, the University focused on an intense rebranding campaign to reach past, current, and potential new constituents. Publicity for the name change was comprehensive. Print and online stories appeared in all major local and a few national publications. Radio, billboards, bus wraps, and television segments were used as well, with the simple but essential message “Stevenson University—The Career Place.” Web news, blogs, and YouTube features were included. This focused branding approach paid off as awareness market research data showed a dramatic rise in name recognition for the new University just six months after the campaigns. A new logo, seal, and athletics branding system were subsequently created to help maximize future branding efforts.
The Six Schools
In March 2009, the University’s academic structure changed when it created its six Schools. Since then, the five undergraduate Schools and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies have offered a broad range of career-focused programs to meet the needs of all types of students, from traditional to nontraditional, from scientist to artist.
Brown School of Business and Leadership
“Today’s world of business requires entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills, and tech savvy. Our students are given the opportunity inside the classroom and out to develop the traits necessary for career success. The Brown School covers the spectrum of traditional and emerging careers in business.”
—Interim Dean Aris Melissaratos
School of Design
“In small classes, expert faculty get to know students’ individual goals and aspirations so they may guide them in the direction of their dreams while providing the skills and foundations necessary to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground.”
—Dean Amanda G. Hostalka, M.F.A
School of Education
“Teacher-candidates at Stevenson University have the opportunity to complete supervised field experiences as early as the beginning of their sophomore year. Being in a classroom setting gives teacher-candidates
a realistic perspective as well as emphasizes professionalism, modeling, and mentoring.”
—Dean Deborah Kraft, Ph.D.
School of Graduate and Professional Studies
“Stevenson’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies has pioneered online programs in areas of workforce demand such as nursing and healthcare as well as in specialized areas such as forensic studies, forensic science, and cyber forensics. Our expertise in online education and personal approach help us tailor our master’s and bachelor’s programs to fit the balance of family, work, and education that today’s professionals need.”
—Dean Joyce K. Becker, J.D.
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
“We offer a career-focused, applied curriculum. Our majors are more skillsbased, not content-based; it’s Career ArchitectureSM manifested. And all of our programs have done well in terms of job placement. I think that’s because our students can really think critically and write well, skills that apply to a broad spectrum of careers.”
—Dean Jim Salvucci, Ph.D.
School of the Sciences
“Here at Stevenson, we believe that to learn science, one must do science, which means that our students and faculty are engaged in hands-on, inquiry-based learning at all levels of study.”
—Dean Susan Gorman, Ph.D.
One of the highlights of the successful 2007 capital campaign launch was a gala with a special guest, Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.
Stevenson’s transformation during the past 15 years has been bolstered by the commitment of financial resources from supporters. The University formally launched a major capital campaign on Sept. 27, 2007, with special guest and Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. The launch dinner, held in the Rockland Banquet Room on the Owings Mills Campus, represented the conclusion of the “quiet phase” of the five-year campaign and the beginning of its public phase. When “Inspiring Students, Building Careers: The Campaign for Stevenson University” concluded on Dec. 31, 2009, the University had raised $20.4 million in support of the new Howard S. Brown School of Business and Leadership, scholarship endowments, and special programs. In addition, donors contributed more than $2.9 million to The Stevenson Fund, which continues to support the areas of greatest need in the University’s annual operations.
Throughout the years, volunteerism and community engagement at Stevenson have brought the talents and energy of SU students, staff, and faculty to bear on issues and challenges that face the greater Baltimore region—and beyond. From joining the Maryland-D.C. Campus Compact in 2009 to supporting public service, growing Building Community Days, and taking Mission: I’m Home service trips to flood-damaged areas in New Orleans and New York, Stevenson is making an impact. Recent initiatives have included student environmental stewardship projects at Owings Mills’ Irvine Nature Center and the Squad 54 Baltimore City Firehouse Renovation Project. In April 2011, Stevenson hosted its first Relay for Life event; as of its fifth year in April 2015, Stevenson had raised a total of $180,000 for research to help beat cancer. In September 2014, Stevenson partnered with the United Way on Project Homeless Connect, an event that provided more than 2,200 homeless people with access to services such as housing assistance, medical/dental care, haircuts, groceries, legal aid, and more. Collectively, SU students, faculty, and staff have given thousands of hours of service.
Maryland Rising Sharpens Focus on State Economy
On Dec. 8, 2014, President Manning; Aris Melissaratos, Interim Dean of the Brown School of Business and Leadership; Sharon Markley, Vice President; and Stevenson University hosted the first Maryland Rising forum. The event brought business and political leaders from throughout the state to campus to discuss strategic innovation and business development plans to bolster the state’s economy. Speakers included Michael E. Busch, the Speaker for the House of Delegates; James T. Brady, Chair of then-Governor-Elect Larry Hogan’s transition team; Brien Poffenberger, President and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce; Donald C. Fry, President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee; Norman R. Augustine, Chair of the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.
The first program held by Maryland Rising, an upbeat economic forum to discuss Maryland’s growth opportunities, brought a cadre of influential political and business leaders to campus.
Expanding Student Recruitment Regionally, Nationally, and Internationally
If any simple statistic can testify to the growth of Stevenson University, it is the number of states and nations represented by a typical incoming class of students. In 2014-2015, traditional and adult students enrolled at SU came from 37 states (including Maryland) and 42 countries.
Colorful flags representing the countries of origin of our students are displayed in the St. Paul Companies Pavilion.
The Admissions Office holds several Saturday Open Houses for prospective students throughout the academic year, allowing them to speak with faculty and students and tour both campuses.
Marketing and PR Highlights
An ongoing commitment to branding and marketing at Stevenson University has helped its reputation grow, not only regionally but also as a national leader in career education. “The Evolving University,” “The Career Place,” the “Stevenson Football 2011” billboard on I-95, and “Greenlight Your Career”—these and other campaigns have been developed for marketing various aspects of Stevenson, including the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, the name change and transition to university status, and the new athletic programs. These campaigns also reinforce SU’s overarching brand as a dynamic, growing university committed to innovation and career education. In addition, varied topics through the years, such as career tips for graduating students and the launching of the football program, put SU in the public consciousness, from national radio shows to the front page of The Washington Post.
In January 2014, Stevenson launched a mobile-friendly new website that won a national design award. Nearly one-third of all Web views are now accessed via mobile use.