July 23, 2024

Jacksonville University Makes Strategic Moves to Adapt to Post-Pandemic Opportunities


As Jacksonville University enters its 88th academic year this fall, northeast Florida’s leading private university is unveiling a progressive strategic vision for the future that features five new schools within its four respected colleges, a reorganized academic structure, and an updated roster of in-demand program offerings and responsive support services.

For more than a year, Jacksonville University’s senior leaders, esteemed faculty, and talented staff have worked collaboratively to adapt and transform all aspects of the university to better serve students and the industries that hire them — a strategic effort accelerated by impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The impact of the pandemic and economic recession created real changes in our lives and in the institutions that help build our future, resulting in perhaps the most significant challenge our university has ever faced,” said Jacksonville University President Tim Cost. “Over the past year, our brightest minds and best experts spent countless hours analyzing and debating everything we do to reimagine what it means to be an agile, relevant, market-responsive private university in a post-pandemic age. We are taking this moment to approach opportunities aggressively and solve problems differently. We are leaning into our new realities and keeping our students at the center of every decision.”

Working closely with its primary accrediting partner, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Jacksonville University is activating a thoughtful, data-driven plan that involves: expanding its programs and partnerships to align with industry trends; adapting academic offerings to match employer expectations and student demand; strategically reconfiguring its academic organization to facilitate more collaboration; and streamlining operational costs to create lasting stability and value.

As part of these plans, Jacksonville University retains its traditional four colleges and two institutes with the creation of five new schools, bringing the total to 11 distinct schools on the university’s historic riverfront campus.

The university’s growing engineering, computer science, cybersecurity, physics and communication programs are now organized under the Davis College of Business, creating the new School of Engineering and Technology alongside the School of Business, and the newly expanded School of Aviation and Military Sciences.

The university’s humanities disciplines are joining the vibrant community of creatives within the Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts, which is now home to the newly formed School of Humanities alongside its two existing schools of Art & Design and Performing Arts.

The university’s Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences will continue to include the Keigwin School of Nursing, the School of Applied Health Sciences, and the School of Orthodontics.

The College of Arts and Sciences is elevating core disciplines that offer the necessary skills employers require, while offering exceptional student experiences. The college now oversees the School of Social Sciences and Education, and the School of Sciences and Mathematics.

These changes, some of which challenge long-held conventions within higher education, are designed to cultivate more versatility in students with fewer obstacles, and to develop more well-rounded, job-ready graduates through applied, real-world learning.

“I am proud of the creativity and collaboration from our college deans and faculty members, who brought forward bold ideas and innovative solutions to serve students, add value and drive growth for our institution,” said Dr. Christine Sapienza, Jacksonville University provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs. “These strategic moves amplify one of our greatest strengths: our versatile approach to education. We are leveraging natural synergies that exist within today’s educational and professional landscapes to move beyond traditional academic structures for the benefit of our students and their position as sought-after graduates.”

New or expanded partnerships and unique degree offerings are also important elements of Jacksonville University’s strategic plan to upgrade and update its offerings. Just recently, the university launched a 12-month nursing degree program with Baptist Health, a new Doctorate of Business Administration in Healthcare Leadership, a certification program with partner Availity to help nurse practitioners earn their independent licenses, a Master of Medical Sciences program with partner Tiber Health, a partnership with Delta Air Lines to train the next generation of commercial pilots, and the university built a micro-credentialing platform — the UpSkill Institute — where Skillstorm, Podium Education and other partners offer accelerated training and certifications for in-demand skills. Looking ahead, the university is launching a partnership with Rush University for a much-needed Master’s degree in Respiratory Therapy — the first in the region. The university also will further expand programming at its new Palm Coast location and launch a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

“Experience teaches us that those who can successfully turn adversity into opportunity and then act decisively will not only survive but thrive. We are 100 percent committed to our university and our graduates thriving,” said President Cost.

Jacksonville University’s relentless drive to adapt and respond to new opportunities is made possible in large part by unprecedented support and investment this past year from its highly engaged alumni, donors, families, and friends. The university celebrated the most successful one-week micro-giving campaign in school history this past spring, surpassing its funding goals with more than $2.4 million raised and a record-breaking 6,400 participants in just five days. Moreover, the university’s most passionate supporters contributed nearly $8 million during the pandemic to support the university’s greatest needs as it navigated global uncertainty and economic challenges.

About Jacksonville University

As northeast Florida’s premier private institution of higher education, Jacksonville University is consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Regional Universities in the South, with back-to-back Top 30 rankings in 2020 and 2021. Founded in 1934, the University offers more than 100 majors, minors, and programs, including in-demand degrees in Nursing, Business, Biology, Marine Science, Engineering, Finance, Marketing and Psychology, as well as those in the highly specialized fields of Aviation, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Film, Music, and Health Informatics. With its four colleges, eleven schools and two institutes, Jacksonville University’s 235-acre riverfront campus is minutes from downtown and from beautiful area beaches.

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