Every advancement of knowledge builds on the foundations of yesterday’s discoveries.

In 2010, the UMass Lowell community set audacious goals. Together we leapt, with the determination that we would find solutions to the challenges before us. 

Today, our goals are just as bold, and as we advance toward new thresholds of achievement, we are armed with the wisdom gained in our first strategic planning effort. The campus community, under the leadership of Chancellor Julie Chen, is ready to accept the responsibilities of a new, more nimble strategic planning cycle based on a five-year horizon.

We are confident that when we land in 2028, we will see a UMass Lowell that has continued to evolve and ascend.

Our extraordinary students will still be at the center of everything we do. But they won’t just graduate: They will graduate having been transformed by the educational and experiential offerings at UMass Lowell. As a campus, we will have rallied together to support their success, and they will leave our fold prepared not only to go out into the world, but to change it.

And they will do so equipped with the richness provided by a university that operates at the highest levels of research, teaching and scholarship. 

A university that values differences, where first-generation students, residents of Gateway Cities and people from all over the world feel like they belong from day one, no matter what their backgrounds.

A university located in a vibrant city that gives prospective students a reason to apply to UMass Lowell. Where there is a clear and deep connection between the success of our campus and that of our city. 

A university that gives every student an opportunity to get work experience that matters before they walk across the stage at Commencement. 

To get there, we must lead with an unyielding confidence and a commitment to constant improvement. That begins with sustaining and advancing the momentum sparked by the 2020 Strategic Plan:

  • Our six-year graduation rate grew from 51% in 2010 to 71% in 2022.
  • Our total number of degrees awarded annually grew from 2,149 to 4,254.
  • Our percentage of undergraduate students of color grew from 26% to 42%.
  • Our percentage of graduate students of color grew from 19% to 31%.
  • Our research and development expenditures grew from $59M to $92M.
  • Our endowment grew from $37.4M to $102.6M.
  • Our footprint grew from 3.1M square feet to 4.9M square feet, including 19 new or substantially renovated buildings. 

These are powerful measures of growth and transformation. And they are not the only ones. But there is more to be done. 

This is collaborative work.

The 2028 strategic planning process was built upon the campus-wide initiatives developed over the past few years, integrating key themes identified through collaboration with dozens of internal and external stakeholders, specifically:

  • The 2020-2022 development of the DEIB Action Plan to improve our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) efforts. 
  • The 2022 Research Plan, which lays out the actions and resources needed to advance the university to R1 status. 
  • The 2023 institutional self-study for our 10-year New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) accreditation evaluation.
  • The 2022-2027 Facilities Management Strategic Development Plan, which documents planned development activities over a five-year period.

These themes were further defined and validated during the fall 2020 planning process, which included:

  • Over 2,600 survey responses, representing over half the faculty and staff and hundreds of students, alumni and community members.
  • Evaluation and aggregation of the survey results by common themes, concerns and questions, which were then presented to the campus community.
  • Listening sessions led by an external facilitator, organized by the key themes identified in the survey results. 

This process confirmed the importance of continuing the efforts that have been in place since 2010, including but not limited to:

  • Our teaching excellence
  • The elevation of the Honors College
  • Sustainability leadership among New England universities
  • International partnerships
  • The transition to Division I athletics
  • Improved student life and campus culture
  • External partnerships, including with alumni, donors and industry.

We fully intend to continue the progress in all of these areas. In addition, four new priorities have emerged.

The priorities of the 2028 Strategic Plan are important unto themselves but not mutually exclusive; each is vital to the success of the others. 

Onward to 2028. 

The primary goal of this 2028 Strategic Plan is to help us articulate who we are and what makes us distinctive, to define what success looks like, and what we need to do to get there. It will guide our decision-making and the allocation of our resources at all levels of the university.

Strategic planning is a continuous process. Measurement is key to our momentum and to the transparency of our efforts. Simple metrics will help us track and fine tune our actions. 

Upon publication of the 2028 Strategic Plan, individual departments, colleges and divisions are expected to develop localized strategic plans that align with, contribute to and amplify this plan. In addition, we plan to revisit our mission and values to align with the consensus vision at the heart of this plan.

Here then is not just our vision for the next five years, but how we intend to achieve it.