Our Vision

Johnson C. Smith University will be recognized in North Carolina as Charlotte’s Premier Independent New Urban University.  Defining characteristics of what JCSU will become include:

  • High quality market-driven curriculum centered in the liberal arts and sciences
  • A multi-cultural, multi-generational, and multi-racial faculty, staff, and student body
  • A risk-oriented, entrepreneurial, independent presence in an historic urban neighborhood
  • A teaching mission with emphasis on faculty and student research
  • A mix of undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Viable and sustainable community, professional, and corporate partnerships
  • Delivery of educational programs in new venues and formats

Our Value Proposition

Johnson C. Smith University is an independent new urban university rooted in the HBCU tradition and charged with an urgent public mission: to recruit and equip a diverse student body through innovative teaching, learning and faculty-mentored and applied research with the knowledge, skills, values, and ethics that will enable them to solve complex problems in a fast-changing global economy.

Founded in 1867 to educate freed slaves, today JCSU faces new challenges to produce the next generation of graduates who make up a new demographic majority consisting of students of color.  JCSU must prepare them to navigate and thrive in a marketplace where people of color suffer disproportionate rates of unemployment and underemployment.  Our students rely on us to help them reverse those trends. They understand that the value of education is the promise of freedom and personal fulfillment.  For the large number of our students who are first-generation students, a college degree provides a viable route out of poverty. To accomplish all this, the University must continue moving forward with its radical transformative strategy.

JCSU offers a rich intellectual climate supported by 103 faculty, 251 staff members, and a $45-million annual operating budget.  It leverages its numerous community partnerships to guide various faculty-student applied research initiatives, many of which focus on improving education, health, and economic mobility in the surrounding Northwest Corridor.

JCSU’s vision for adapting to new economic realities in higher education are informed by Jake B. Schrum’s, The Role of the New Urban University, and the research of Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS), the widely-cited business management study by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Professors at INSEAD and Co-Directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute.  Initially published as a series of Harvard Business Review case studies, BOS aims to uncover new methods and insights within organizations that lead to higher value at a lower cost.  BOS essentially drives corporate teams to redefine their traditional yet restricted market for their product by using existing resources to access a larger group of potential users and revenue streams.  Over the past year, JCSU, in collaboration with a team of BOS consultants, reviewed the University’s product and value proposition to modify JSCU’s student experience that will measurably improve retention and graduation rates. 

The University’s leadership is committed to building a strong and sustainable new urban university that has a reputation as a close-knit community that integrates the liberal arts with business, the sciences, and technology in innovative, socially-conscious ways to empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders.  Whether in or out of the classroom, we offer our students growing edge experiences that will not confine them to dream small or to accept what is.  Our students understand that they have an obligation to see challenges and solve them and to demand thought, growth, and change in every community they touch.  Our commitment to build a premier new urban university that delivers a high education at a relatively low market cost will ensure our impact and viability for generations to come.

Strategic Priorities

These strategic priorities will guide our work over the life of the 2008-2017 Strategic Plan:

Strategic Priority 1: Academic Excellence

Shifting the balance between quantity and quality in University’s policies and procedures

It is the success of our students that fuels our passion to serve in the profession of higher education.  Students succeed when we devote our energies to continuously improving their experiences in and out of the classroom.  We must recruit and retain to graduation an excellent and diverse undergraduate and graduate student body.  We will make data-informed decisions in our ongoing effort to fuel new opportunities for our students.

We will demonstrate our commitment to the success of our students through innovative engagement efforts that begin before arrival and continue after graduation.  We will enrich the lives of our students by intensely focusing on: growing, diversifying, and shaping our student body; building skills for success after graduation; and promoting programs and policies that facilitate academic excellence.

Strategic Priority 2: Master Faculty

Attract, hire and maintain a differential faculty of teacher-advisers, teacher scholars, and applied researchers 

High quality faculty not only enhance the university’s teaching and programmatic reputation but also attract the highest quality students. We will recruit faculty who have attained, or have the potential to attain, the highest honors in their disciplines while also implementing a broad faculty recruitment, retention, and development plan.

We will enhance our dynamic, diverse academic environment and ensure outstanding student learning outcomes by focusing on: promoting innovative teaching and learning practices; engaging students with an increasing emphasis on active and service learning and research opportunities; supporting faculty growth and excellence; and strategically strengthening academic program expansion and development while emphasizing program excellence.

Strategic Priority 3: Operational Excellence

Develop a focused University strategy that is based on a comprehensive management information system and measurable outcomes

Operational performance is central to the transformative efforts of the University.  The institution will fulfill customer expectations and needs, and will execute internal processes necessary to do so.  From a customer perspective, we will improve the user experience, including ease of use, availability, accessibility and usability of services.  We will improve communication, transparency and outreach. Units will become strategic resources and trusted partners within the University community as well as a champions for emerging technologies.

From an internal perspective, we will improve coordination of services and projects, and leverage governance to improve internal efficiency and effectiveness.  The institution will ensure that we operating in a safe and compliant manner.

Strategic Priority 4: Financial Strength

Maintain fiscal discipline in managing our operations, and expand and diversify the financial resources of the University through successful fundraising (public and private) in support of our strategic initiatives

Financial strength and stability is the bedrock upon which any successful strategic plan rests.  It undergirds our commitment to academic excellence; without it, the University’s ability to launch, sustain, grow, and evaluate quality academic programs is severely compromised. Financial strength and stability also buttresses our commitment to student success, whether we’re attracting more of the best and brightest students, bridging the gap for those students with developmental needs, or developing programs that grow our enrollment and improve our retention and graduation rates.

Financial resources are needed to help all our students reach their full potential. We will operate from a position of financial strength by becoming as efficient as possible in our spending and maximizing resource generation. We will continue to seek private support and diverse revenue streams to optimize campus resources.

Strategic Priority 5: Student Diversity

Attract a critical mass of highly motivated, high achieving students across racial, ethnic and national boundaries

We are a campus community that values the intrinsic worth of its members, recognizes our shared qualities, and embraces our differences. We make appreciation of all persons a key characteristic of this community, foster a spirit of openness and active engagement, and strive to be diverse and inclusive in every aspect of campus life. 

Diversity includes attention to identity characteristics such as age, disability, sex, race, ethnicity, religion/spiritual tradition, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, veteran status, job status or socioeconomic class, nation of origin, language spoken, documentation status, personal appearance and political beliefs.

We continuously work to increase the structural diversity of the campus community.  Moreover, we work towards intentionally fostering and sustaining a welcoming campus community that strives for structural diversity, cultivates a culture of inclusive learning, supports systemic transformation, and is based on the principles of equity and inclusion.

Strategic Priority 6: Campus Experience

Accelerate the University's scheduled maintenance plan

Up-to-date infrastructure and learning tools are essential for a university seeking academic excellence. We will upgrade the quality of our classroom spaces, enhance the appearance of campus facilities and grounds, and provide faculty, staff, and students with the latest technology tools for leadership in teaching, learning, research, and career development.

We will revitalize the campus by being relentless in our efforts to secure investments in student-centric facilities – classrooms and residential living spaces.  The attention to scheduled maintenance enhances the holistic student experience: intellectual, social, physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental maturation.

Strategic Priority 7: Community Engagement

Lead sustained and actionable conversations with City of Charlotte and coalitions of developers concerning revitalization of the Urban District that is Johnson C. Smith's front door

Johnson C. Smith University is committed to servant leadership and civic engagement.  We will provide students and faculty the opportunity to study models of leadership as service; to engage in debate and understanding of significant social and cultural problems that impact our times; to expand the University’s service to its neighbors, and to form strategic alliances with community and faith based organizations, as well as with local and county social agencies.

We will create a culture of outreach and engagement through innovative teaching and scholarship. By applying our academic and professional expertise to collaborations with community stakeholders, we will improve the quality of life for the communities we serve.