2013-2018 Strategic Plan Auburn University

2013-2018 Strategic Plan

Priority 1: Enhance Student Success and Diversify Enrollment

A picture of five people holding an Auburn flag and it says, 'This is a powerful student experience.'
By participating in an academic learning community, new students are connected to a small community of faculty, staff, and peers with similar interests. Faculty and more advanced students serving as peer instructors help connect students with campus resources early on to support student success. Students in the program report that participation made it significantly easier for them to transition academically, study with peers, and connect with faculty. They also rated their entire educational experience more positive than other students.


Auburn University has earned a strong reputation for providing students with a challenging, attractive, and practical academic experience. Over the next five years, we will continue to strengthen our programs to enhance students' academic, social, professional, and personal success. Through integrated academic and student life programs, we will provide students with effective curricular and co-curricular experiences that will equip them to become prominent leaders in their professions and communities as successful global citizens.

Auburn already is a top institutional choice among talented students because of its strong academic programs, capable faculty, attractive facilities for learning, residential life and recreation programs, and unparalleled campus environment. We will maintain, assess, and improve this environment for student success over the next five years, as described in the strategic commitments on the following page.

Supported by these measures, our primary strategic efforts over the next five years will be (1) to diversify our enrollment profile, (2) to harness the immense capacities of technology, (3) to enrich our learning experience, and, most of all, (4) to improve our retention and graduation rates. To retain students and help them attain timely graduation, we will articulate clear academic expectations and provide ample support.

Through new eLearning programs, including distance education, Auburn will increase its capacity and extend innovative academic opportunities to talented students beyond its Auburn and Montgomery campuses. We will enhance the diversity of our campuses, increasing minority and international student enrollments. While continuing to expand student learning opportunities abroad.

A photo of a student smiling.

The Provost Leadership Undergraduate Scholarship (PLUS) program was instituted in 2006 to support talented first-generation college students and also benefit those with financial need. The program provides a $2,000 scholarship per academic year renewable up to 4 years, and supports them academically and socially to ensure that they succeed at Auburn University.

Strategic Goals

Strategic Goals

1. The university will emphasize student retention and achievement by encouraging and expecting timely degree completion and by clearing pathways to student success.

  • A. Improve retention and graduation rates to surpass regional averages for flagship public universities.
  • B. Implement engagement strategies that will help students make the transition to college and encourage them to remain at Auburn for their entire college education.
  • C. Review existing academic policies and develop new ones that will encourage students to complete their degree requirements within a reasonable period of time.
  • D. Develop a Freshman Advising Center for undecided students.
  • E. Adjust institutional scholarship and financial aid practices to improve student retention, encourage students to complete their degrees, and reduce average time to degree.
  • F. Design admissions practices that more effectively align with the enrollment capacity of high demand, high cost programs while meeting the university's other enrollment goals.
  • G. Enhance career counseling and career advising to reduce the number of changes in academic majors and strengthen student career readiness for post-graduate success.

2. The university will strengthen the student experience and broaden its influence by serving new groups of students and emphasizing the academic importance of diversity. We will support the talents of all qualified students and prepare them to thrive in an increasingly global environment.

  • A. Continue to recruit high-ability students from Alabama.
  • B. Maintain strong appeal to out-of-state students, while extending recruitment to promising new markets that are farther afield.
  • C. Internationalize the undergraduate student population by increasing the number of students from countries that are actively engaged in the future of Alabama's economy. Develop summer language immersion programs for incoming undergraduate students whose first language is not English.
  • D. Actively recruit capable, low-income, first-generation, and underserved students who currently may not be considering a nationally competitive university for their college education and increase scholarship opportunities for these students.
  • E. Support efforts to increase the quality of transfer students and develop partnerships with two-year colleges to attract talented transfer students.
  • F. Increase the percentage of undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups.

3. The university will redefine its role in the development of eLearning programs (including distance education), meeting the needs of current and new Auburn students in ways that are consistent with the university's academic standards.

  • A. In a small number of fields, carefully identified through market research, make available fully online new undergraduate and graduate programs for degree completers and working professionals.
  • B. Expand undergraduate enrollment through offering fully online distance education degree programs.
  • C. Fully implement Auburn's innovative Professional ePortfolio project.
  • D. Strengthen the institution's academic culture for eLearning programs (including distance education) and expand access to state-of-the-art eLearning technologies and related support.
  • E. Design budget models that will encourage and support the development of financially sustainable eLearning programs (including distance education).
  • F. Create incentives that will increase the number of faculty active in eLearning programs (including distance education).
  • G. Establish a consortium between Auburn University and Auburn University at Montgomery to leverage online course offerings and to enable students at both institutions to earn credit and complete their degrees more quickly.
  • H. Commit to designing all eLearning programs (including distance education) using universal design principles to ensure accessibility.
  • I. Commit to a common mobile platform to facilitate broad adoption of eLearning strategies.

Strategic Commitments

Strategic Commitments

1. Enhance academic support services and student development programs.

  • Prepare students to excel academically, personally, socially, and professionally through integrated approaches to student success.
  • Regularly assess academic and student support services to ensure that they are relevant, responsive, effective, and efficiently coordinated.
  • Regularly assess the effectiveness of academic advising.
  • Expand academic support services for all students.
  • Develop on-campus housing strategies to accommodate all interested first-year students.
  • Continue to promote student athlete academic success and comply with all NCAA rules.

2. Strengthen professional and career preparedness.

  • Develop clear and consistent web-based materials to help students select appropriate degree programs.
    • Clearly communicate expected student learning outcomes for each program, assess how well students are attaining those outcomes, and use the results to improve learning in each program.
    • Provide accurate information about career and post-graduate opportunities usually available to students completing each program.
  • Revise first-year orientation programs to emphasize not only academic success, but also career and professional development.
  • Increase the number of high-impact student experiences–such as internships, undergraduate research, cooperative education, or study abroad–that are available to all students.
    • Ensure that all colleges and schools support these activities.
    • Where possible, enable students in all colleges and schools to participate in cooperative education.
    • In each undergraduate major, make it possible to complete through study abroad at least one course applicable to degree requirements.
    • Increase the number of students engaged in undergraduate research.
  • Better prepare interested students for graduate and professional study.
    • Provide realistic and purposeful counseling about the costs and benefits of graduate education.
    • Increase the availability of graduate and professional school admissions test preparation programming.
    • Increase the availability of information on how to apply to graduate and professional schools.
    • Improve career services for graduate students, with an emphasis on training in academic ethics and research skills.
  • Establish interdisciplinary degrees between various departments that focus on "gaps" in existing degree options.

3. Enhance graduate student programming and support.

  • Advance the national and global reputation of Auburn University's graduate and professional programs.
  • Add new professional development programs for graduate students,including programs preparing students for non-academic careers.
  • Develop endowment resources to fund competitive graduate stipends in key doctoral programs.
  • Develop new interdisciplinary research opportunities for graduate students.

4. Develop state-of-the-art academic facilities.

  • Develop a state-of-the-art classroom facility and technology-enhanced laboratories to support innovative teaching and research.
  • Identify resources to improve existing academic spaces and develop necessary funding for new facilities that will support our mission of providing outstanding teaching and learning.
  • Raise the funds required to build a Performing Arts Center to support student learning and enhance community life.

Additional Insight

A graphic showing the different parts of the ePortfolio Project.
ePortfolio Project logo
Auburn University has identified as its Quality Enhancement Plan a project to enhance student learning through professional ePortfolios – personal websites designed to communicate and showcase skills, experiences, and learning. Students assemble artifacts from across their academic career – written texts, drawings, video, oral performances, or other media products from their course work and other experiences – and in revising and contextualizing these artifacts to demonstrate the themes in their learning experiences.


Paul Bergen standing outside.

Paul Bergen, a 2012 graduate of Auburn University, was awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, a full-cost award for full-time graduate study and research at the University of Cambridge. He currently is a Fulbright Scholar at the Technical University in Munich, Germany, where he is continuing research that he began in Auburn's Department of Biological Sciences. He will pursue a PhD in pathology at Cambridge with a focus on how Salmonella infects the host intestinal cell and overcomes the host immune response to cause disease.

A silhouette of three different people.


A photo of Ariccia, Italy.

The Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy campus is located within the Chigi Palace in the small town of Ariccia, roughly 20 miles from Rome. The semester-long study abroad program in Ariccia for students in the College of Human Sciences begins in Ariccia and offers students excursions to a variety of cities including, Rome, the neighboring towns of the Castelli Romani, Tivoli, Siena, Florence, Naples and Milan.


Bridget Peters smilingBeing an advocate comes naturally to Bridget Peters. Whether she is championing the "exercise is medicine" philosophy, supporting the College of Education's diversity programs, or promoting the beneficial work that graduate students are involved in to potential donors, Peters advocates on behalf of many different constituencies. However, her message usually returns to one central theme: the importance of graduate education.

A doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology, Peters wasn't even sure if she wanted to attend Auburn just a few years ago. In 2011, she was finishing her bachelor's degree in biology with a public health minor at Spelman College in Atlanta when she learned of the College of Education's Future Scholars Summer Research Bridge Program. The diversity program welcomes undergraduate students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to Auburn for an intensive, six-week research experience in hopes that they will enroll at Auburn as a graduate student.

As it turned out, the Future Scholars program played a huge part in Peters' decision to pursue her graduate education at Auburn. But it was when she met with John Quindry, director of the Cardioprotection Laboratory, just before the program began that she knew she had found a good school.

"The talk he gave me was kind of a tough sell," Peters says. "He said, 'This is not an easy program. You're going to come, I'm going to give you this stack of papers to read and it's not going to be simple.' But he outlined what the lab did, how they went about publishing, what he expected as a doc student or even a master's student coming into this lab. He even sat me down and asked me what I wanted out of it. That was the conversation that convinced me that I really like this guy because he wants his doc students not to just come here and be a number in the program. He has an agenda for you and he wants you to check it off your list so that you are actually going to have a long list of marketable accomplishments when you leave Auburn."

Last updated: 11/10/2016