‘Catalytic’ Turnaround: ACE/Fidelity Award Spotlights Stevens' Dramatic Transformation
The ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation recognizes colleges and universities that, during periods of great internal or external challenge, refocus or repurpose their resources to change. That transformation can be academic, cultural or financial, but the intent is to recognize particularly dramatic evolution.
And in 2018, Stevens received the prestigious recognition.
Among all U.S. institutions of higher learning with student populations of 5,001 or more, Stevens was selected to acknowledge a dramatic turnaround in the years since 2011.
“[A]ddressing issues head-on — plus a lot of hard work and collaboration — can help transform an institution,” noted American Council on Education (ACE) President Ted Mitchell at the awards ceremony, during which Stevens President Nariman Farvardin accepted the award (which also came with a $10,000 prize).
“Since its founding in 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology has played a pivotal role in creating bright futures for its graduates, in advancing technological innovation, and in contributing to societal progress,” noted President Farvardin at the event. “With the continued commitment of the university community, the potential of Stevens is limitless ... I am honored to accept the 2018 ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation during this catalytic period in our history.”
Upon assuming leadership of Stevens in July of 2011, President Farvardin confronted challenges including flagging enrollment, retention and graduation rates; dips in research funding; financial issues; and a sense of disconnection from the university's home city of Hoboken.
He launched the turnaround with an inclusive, 10-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create. The overarching goal of the plan: to become “a premier, student-centric, technological research university.”
And great leaps and strides have been made since.
At the time of the 2018 award, undergraduate applications had already increased by 191 percent since 2011, with a 140 point increase in the median SAT score of incoming freshmen and a 51 percent increase in total enrollment. Stevens' graduation rate was up to 87 percent, and, importantly, 96 percent of those graduates were attaining desired outcomes within six months of graduation.
Graduate applications had nearly tripled; the faculty body had been increased by percent; sponsored research support funding was rising. Operating revenue was up more than 63 percent. Philanthropic giving had increased by 230 percent, and the university's endowment was nearly 50 percent larger than it had been just seven years prior. The university's bond rating had improved as well, representing solid financial footing.
For those reasons and more, ACE/Fidelity chose Stevens as the single most successfully transformed large university in the nation for 2018 — and that momentum and upward trajectory continue today.