Addressing the systemic barriers to student success will take a campus-wide commitment.
The Fitchburg State population is changing, and the university is adapting with it. The university began its yearlong strategic planning process in 2019 with a visit by Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago, who outlined the Department of Higher Education’s “Equity Agenda” to close persistent achievement gaps among Massachusetts students, particularly among students of color.
Over months of discussions with constituencies spanning the campus and beyond, a vision for the next five years took shape, one that honors Fitchburg State’s history while acknowledging the conditions facing current and future students.
Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs Alberto J.F. Cardelle said Fitchburg State is committed to education justice, providing equity of opportunities to students, especially those who have been historically denied educational access.
By design, the university is recruiting and serving a more diverse student body than ever before. In 2004, the university had 147 students who identified as Hispanic or Latino; by 2019 there were 594. In 2004 there were 123 students who identified as Black or African-American; that grew to 478 by 2019. Including students who identify as multi-racial, the number of “minority” students in all grew from 358 in 2004 to 1,340 in 2019.
Addressing the systemic barriers to student success will take a campus-wide commitment, Cardelle said. That includes Early College programs with regional high schools, where students can get a head start on their collegiate studies. It also includes training for faculty and staff on serving a more diverse population and understanding their needs, and hosting speakers who can educate the campus and wider communities about issues related to education justice.
This work is also reflected in Fitchburg State’s recently adopted 2020-2025 strategic plan, a document that outlines six goals:
- Forge innovative paths to knowledge acquisition, career readiness, social mobility, and lifelong learning
- Become a model student-ready university and narrow the achievement gap
- Be an engine of social, economic, civic, and cultural development in our city and region
- Establish inclusive excellence, innovation, and environmental stewardship as signature strengths
- Assert our distinctive value proposition and institutional learning outcomes boldly and widely
- Steward physical and financial resources responsibly and navigate a path to long-term organizational sustainability
The full plan, including enumerated goals, strategies to achieve them, and the desired outcomes they will create, can be found online at fitchburgstate.edu/strategicplan.