Blue Ocean Strategy at JCSU

Johnson C. Smith University has a long history of innovation in keeping with its desire to be at the forefront of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In keeping with this tradition, the university was selected by the White House Initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities to work with a team of practitioners to apply the Blue Ocean Strategy theory to significantly improve its retention and graduation rates to help achieve President Barack Obama’s national education goals.

Serving more than 300,000 students across 105 HBCU campuses, HBCUs represent a significant force that can help the nation reach President Obama’s goal of having the U.S. produce the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by year 2020. Blue Ocean Strategy, in addition to several other targeted approaches, is one method that the White House Initiative is using to meet these goals and reaffirm the value and importance of HBCUs in the higher education landscape.

Through this process, JCSU faculty and staff will answer the following questions:

  1. How can JCSU’s retention and graduation rates be significantly improved by eliminating, reducing, raising, and creating factors to provide a leap in value?
  2. How can the impact of JCSU’s retention and graduation support offerings be strengthened by aligning the four key dimensions that drive retention and graduation at the system level so that they are mutually reinforcing?
  3. How can JCSU’s retention and graduation efforts have greater reach by broadening the appeal of its offerings beyond its existing students?
  4. How can JCSU create a solution that is simpler for students to access and use, easier for the university to communicate and administer, and more scalable to lower costs by aggregating demand across different target student groups?

Implementation is underway thanks to the generous support of The Duke Endowment. Blue Ocean Strategy Network Practitioners have identified four key dimensions that will frame the work during this phase:

  1. Possessing a vision/conviction that graduating with a JCSU degree outweighs the cost of earning it
  2. Receiving timely and effective academic support for each level of coursework
  3. Building up the emotional strength to put in the hard work to persist and graduate
  4. Securing the financial means to complete the coursework required for a JCSU degree

To reflect the institutional, faculty and student's perspective better, these research areas have been simplified as: Committee Initiatives, Academic Support, Advising and Validation.