Tactical Plan

Priorities, Tactics, and Metrics

The Tactical Plan in Action

The Tactical Plan is making an impact on campus with projects like the new outdoor basketball court (completed November 2021). 

Core Themes
  • Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity (DIBE)
  • Retention
  • Program Development
  • Physical and Technological Infrastructure
  • Competitive Compensation
  • TacticAction/MetricProgress

    Decrease student indebtedness overall, an offshoot of which will be narrowing the gap between the demonstrated financial need of our students and the available financial aid

    Remain below the current national average ($33,700) for student debt; maintain and continue to reduce the current (2019-2020) $31,832 Southwestern average for total indebtedness; increase need-based student scholarship amounts

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Average indebtedness for 2021–2022 Southwestern graduates is $29,738
    • Implemented Student Success Scholarships for Fall 2023 that assist students who are in financial need and are performing well both in the classroom and on campus
    • Philanthropic contributions and pledges for current-use and endowed scholarships exceeded $1 million during the 2023–2024 fiscal year.

    Increase funding and improve advising to ensure that all students have access to two high impact experiences (HIEs): study away/abroad, paid and unpaid internships, faculty-student research, community engaged learning

    After analyzing existing patterns more fully and determining costs, enhance funding/access and guidance of students to HIEs, to increase from 2020–2021 totals — 86% of graduating students have one HIE and 42% have two, to 100% of graduating students have two HIEs

    • A total of 60 students worked with 18 faculty on summer research projects
    • Currently reviewing and streamlining the academic internship process using the HireSU platform
    • Hired new Director of Academic and Funded Internships in Spring 2023, a position focused on providing clear pathways for internships
    • In 2022–2023, 78% of graduates participated in at least one HIE and 31% in at least two
    • Philanthropic contributions and pledges for current-use and endowed high-impact experiences exceeded $160,000 during the 2023–2024 fiscal year
    • The 2022–2023 academic year saw 103 students participate in study abroad; 28 additional students participated in study abroad in Fall 2023
    • The Spring Internship & Career Fair featured 38 employers and 226 students in attendance - the biggest fair at Southwestern yet; employers recruited for internships which students could pursue for academic credit
    • Three new community-engaged learning classes offered in 2022–2023

    Develop a new academic advising program that starts with first-year professional advisors and transitions to faculty/staff advisors

    Hire six professional first-year advisors and provide program support

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Six professional academic advisors were hired and started at Southwestern on June 1, 2021
    • To transition from first-year professional advisors to faculty advisors, students will be individually matched with faculty advisors throughout the summer in order for the faculty-student advising relationship to begin in the fall of their sophomore year

    Provide material and professional development funding for advisors in support of the advising program

    Develop a more proactive advising program that trains both professional advisors and faculty/staff academic advisors, including a new student relationship management system

    • Nuro Retention was used as the student case management system in 2022–2023
    • Professional development for staff and faculty advisors, as well as Nuro training, was offered in August 2022

    Develop inclusive teaching certificate program

    Support up to eight faculty per year in the inclusive teaching certificate program housed in the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (CTLS) and led by the new diversity and inclusive pedagogy specialist

    • Final pledged philanthropic contributions for current-use and endowed funds received in June 2022; future funding to advance teaching, learning, and scholarship within the faculty will come from endowment withdrawals and new current-use contributions

    Fund student and faculty research to document Southwestern’s commitment to a more inclusive University history

    Encourage ongoing documentation projects and develop new ones; establish a document archive as well as a web-based history

    • Philanthropic contributions received regularly to support student/faculty research
    • SCOPE (Summer Collaborative Opportunities and Experiences) undergraduate research project funded
    • “Reframing the Institutional Saga” Grant received from NetVUE for $40,000

    Fund initiatives in the Campus Master Plan designed to create a vibrant campus experience

    Build student life amenities such as an outdoor pool, outdoor basketball court, outdoor art studio, outdoor amphitheater for films, concerts

    • *See more updates on the SU Construction Projects webpage*
    • Bishops’ Lounge and Commons were renovated and refurbished during Summer 2023
    • Construction on the new welcome center and residence halls began in March 2024
    • New outdoor basketball court and sand volleyball pit constructed at residence halls in Summer 2023
    • New pickleball courts constructed near residence halls in September 2023
    • Received $5 million pledge to support Campus Master Plan during the 2022–2023 fiscal year

    Create a more robust student training and employment program

    Analyze current wage structure and make appropriate increases to student wages through benchmarking positions with Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Consortium; review and strengthen student employment hiring and training programs

    • HR is in the process of internal benchmarking for student jobs
    • Plans include developing high-level job descriptions for all student jobs, a defensible pay structure based on jobs, a supervisory guide for managers (including faculty managers) hiring students, and an expectations guide for student workers
    • The compensation package for Resident Assistants was increased and approved for 2023–2024
    • The I-CORPS program concluded with 10 students having completed campus positions through the Spring 2023 semester, with most beginning their positions in the Fall 2022 semester; an additional 16 students were awarded Summer 2023 funding
    • The Student Employment Committee is drafting a number of student staff employment policies covering a variety of employment components

    Institutionalize Mosaic, Southwestern’s approach to encourage the development of the whole person

    Secure more permanent funding to support events, the residential experience, and mini-grants for students

    • A brand-new Mosaic program launched in the 2023–2024 academic year and serves first-year and sophomore students in tracking their co-curricular experiences
    • Philanthropic contributions of $130,000 are committed annually through fiscal year 2023



    Develop a Technology Master Plan to update technological infrastructure, classroom tech, university-wide software, and department-specific software

    Hire consultant and develop the IT Master Plan; IT Master Plan will include a review of current infrastructure and software purchases, such as advising software, and system redundancy

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • A consultant was hired and has completed a current state analysis of information technology in August 2021; assessment reviewed current infrastructure, software, system redundancy, and included an ITS five-year pro forma with budget recommendations
    • A student technology fee was introduced in Fall 2023; these funds will be used in support of projects directly impacting students
    • Completed audio-visual upgrades in four classrooms with four additional classrooms scheduled for upgrade in Spring 2024
    • Completed classroom technology comprehensive assessment with upgrade plan and lifecycle replacement plan
    • Implementing redundant network paths, moving software engineering capabilities to cloud platforms, and expanding administrative applications to enhance business continuity capabilities
    • New fiber internet cables installed on the east side of campus in Fall 2023 as an upgrade to the general infrastructure and preparation for new welcome center and residence halls
    • Software procurement has been centralized to provide more visibility and strengthen understanding of software availability

    Provide more opportunities for staff to enhance their professional skills portfolios

    Establish staff steering continuing education budget

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • A Staff Training and Professional Development Fund was established in February 2021 with an annual budget of $5,000
    • More than 40 staff members participated in a year-long professional development working group to learn more about the concept of Life Design and how they can incorporate Life Design in their work with students

    Implement the first phase of Housing & Amenities Projects in the Campus Master Plan to support move to a three-year residency requirement

    Include sustainability values in constructing mixed-use first-year housing to replace two residence halls and increase physical plant capacity

    • *See more updates on the SU Construction Projects webpage*
    • Construction of first-year hall, second-year hall, & welcome center scheduled to be completed by August 2025
    • Construction on the chilled water loop and new satellite plant scheduled for completion in Summer 2025
    • Finished renovations on Mabee Hall in Summer 2022

    Provide improved faculty office space and classrooms in Mood-Bridwell Hall

    Implement major renovation plans for buildings identified in the Campus Master Plan

    • *See more updates on the SU Construction Projects webpage*
    • Mood-Bridwell renovation includes five classrooms, 54 offices, and other amenities
    • Mood-Bridwell renovation scheduled for a Spring 2025 completion
    • Philanthropic contributions and pledges received to support the renovation of Mood-Bridwell Hall exceed $11 million

    Enhance the Southwestern University Student Emergency Fund

    Distribute funds in response to student applications for support when emergencies arise

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Cumulatively, donations of $239,856 have been added to the SU Emergency Fund and over $200,000 has been awarded to students

    Increase wages for non-exempt (hourly) staff

    Start moving the lowest-paid staff from $11.00 to a $14.00 minimum and perform a wage regression study for additional adjustments

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • The first phase of equity increases are targeted for July 1, 2023
    • The minimum wage increased to $14.50 an hour effective July 1, 2023
  • TacticAction/MetricProgress

    Build Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity (DIBE) efforts into the structure and processes of Human Resources

    Hire a Title IX Coordinator who will provide ongoing educational opportunities for faculty and staff; develop additional hiring and retention policies and programs within HR

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • A campus climate survey related to student perceptions about reporting issues of sexual violence and the prevalence of sexual violence on campus, was administered in 2022–2023 and preliminary results have been shared with a committee to review
    • Diversity training was provided to faculty search committees
    • Policies concerning accommodations for staff with disabilities were added to the Human Resources website
    • Southwestern’s Nondiscrimination Statement has been updated and is now consistently present in materials across campus
    • The Title IX Coordinator has completed in-person training for over 1,300 attendees, including 12 departments on campus, all student-athletes, all new-students, and two student organizations
    • The University hired a full-time Title IX Coordinator in May 2022

    Build DIBE efforts into the structure and processes of Student Life

    Hire a Diversity Education Coordinator

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Coordinator of Student Inclusion and Diversity hired on January 4, 2023

    Increase support for student activities and wellness

    Reinstate an Assistant Director for Outdoor Recreation, 10-12 outdoor trips per year with travel outside of the Austin area and overnight camping, and high-impact Fall Break and Spring Break trips for Southwestern students

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • An Assistant Director for Outdoor Recreation has been hired
    • As of March 1, 2023, eight outdoor trips have been conducted
    • Coordinator for Outdoor Adventure hired in August 2023
    • Spring 2023 activities included caving trip to Whirlpool Cave and a weekend camping trip to the Texas Outdoor Leadership Conference hosted by the University of Houston, climbing Guadalupe Peak, and kayaking the San Marcos River

    Build DIBE efforts into the structure and processes of Academic Affairs

    Hire a Diversity and Inclusion Pedagogy Specialist


    Support faculty in grant identification and application

    Reinstate a Faculty Grants and Sponsored Programs Coordinator

  • TacticAction/MetricProgress

    Rise in rankings and increase national recognition of institutional excellence

    Monitor ranking guides for improvement; communicate the many attributes of the University on a continuous and strategic basis

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Hired Director of Communications and Public Relations on March 4, 2024; this position focuses on gaining regional and national media attention for Southwestern
    • Implemented quarterly email newsletter from President Trombley to Presidents of US News & World Report Top 100 liberal arts colleges
    • Marketing & Communications continues to monitor media placements of our faculty and staff to increase national recognition

    Better define Southwestern’s distinctive identity as an innovative national liberal arts university anchored in the Southwest while being focused on the Paideia principle of connecting students to interdisciplinary knowledge, to each other, and to the world

    Convene a group of stakeholders to clarify, define, and brand Southwestern; work with Center for Career & Professional Development (CCPD), University Relations, and Marketing & Communications to strengthen our connections to Austin as a vibrant cultural and economic location; connect to internationalizing efforts

    • A monthly email communication was developed and sent to all email addresses on record in Williamson County to encourage local residents to attend SU events and activities
    • A web page, The University in your Backyard, was developed to provide local residents with information on how to become engaged with the SU community
    • Held International Women’s Day Luncheon to connect Southwestern to female community leaders in Central Texas.
    • The College Town Committee was reinvigorated to enhance the relationship between Southwestern University and the greater Georgetown community; 27 community partners joined the Committee for the 2022–2023 year
    • The first Employer Recruiting Summit took place; a total of 22 employer representatives attended from Austin, Georgetown, and San Antonio, learning about upcoming opportunities to recruit SU students and to engage in professional development

    Pursue Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation

    Maintain a Hispanic student population of minimum 25%; convene a group of stakeholders tasked with developing necessary programmatic support required to achieve and sustain HSI designation

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Fall 2023 Hispanic population is 28%
    • Joined Excelencia in Education’s Presidents for Latino Student Success (P4LSS) program
    • The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) declared Southwestern University eligible to become a Hispanic Serving Institution on July 1, 2023

    Further internationalize the focus of our students’ experiences

    Review current cost structure for study abroad and study away to increase participation and affordability; at minimum move from 28% to 35% of Southwestern students, with increased participation by first-generation, students of color, and male students

    • Modeling indicates that a home-tuition study abroad model could work, and a pilot program is being developed
    • Of the 2022–2023 graduates, 20% participated in study abroad/away; participation by first-generation students, students of color, and male students increased from 2021–2022 graduates
    • Study abroad scholarships distributed for 2022–2023: $308,876
    • Study abroad scholarships distributed in 2021–2022: $245,345

    Improve and strengthen our student tutoring offerings

    Review and expand current tutoring programs and develop a more comprehensive approach for all student learning styles

    • A new pledge of $300,000 to fund the establishment of a centralized learning commons was received in July 2023
    • Received a gift of $50,000 to support tutoring
    • The Tutoring Development Specialist researched other schools’ tutoring systems and surveyed Southwestern students; their work has resulted in a proposal which was shared with stakeholders in Fall 2022

    Develop more competitive faculty compensation with an annual analysis of salary trend resources, including Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and American Association of University Professors (AAUP)

    Maintain current biannual salary study and overall budgeted salary increases; continue to offer appropriate market rate salaries to recruit assistant professors

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Biannual faculty salary study completed in Summer 2021
    • For fiscal year 2023, faculty starting salaries were increased for each rank ($3,000 for Professors, $6,000 for Associates, and $5,000 for Assistants)
    • Monitor the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) salary report; expect to reach target of salaries above the 60th percentile by fiscal year 2025

    Maintain a strong student-to-faculty ratio by continuing to hire faculty as student enrollment and retention grow

    Maintain the current 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and make progress toward an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Hired eight new faculty in the 2022–2023 academic year
    • Hired six tenure-track faculty for the 2021–2022 academic year

    Encourage faculty retention through cluster hires, particularly for faculty of color

    Implement a cluster hire option in the faculty allocation process

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Awarding lines in English, Political Science, History, and Feminist Studies to the Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice hire in Black and Latinx Studies
    • Thematic hire initiative implemented in Fall 2021

    Institutionalize current model of Paideia

    Future funding will enhance and expand the opportunities for students to engage in various Paideia experiences

    • Awarded $100,000 in Paideia study abroad scholarships
    • Developing a proposal for a Mellon grant to increase funding for HIEs and interdisciplinary Paideia minors
    • Three Paideia Seminars were offered across the 2022–2023 academic year, with a further three planned for each subsequent year



    Create more spaces of belonging on campus for student groups

    Prioritize creation of these spaces in existing buildings as available and include them in the Campus Master Plan

    • Expansion of the JEDI Center’s space planned for 2024–2025
    • The Bishop’s Lounge has been renovated with new furniture to be more welcoming for student relaxation, gathering, and studying
    • The Counseling Center hosts support groups for students of color and students who identify as trans or gender non-conforming
    • The Office of Diversity and Education and the Cross-Cultural Center merged into the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Center in the McCombs Campus Center

    Expand the options in food services to be more intentional and inclusive of diverse food cultures, more sustainable, higher quality, and more welcoming to all students

    Survey students, staff, and faculty in Spring 2021; initiate request for proposals for food service operator Fall 2021; complete food service contract process by Summer 2022

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • Campus community surveyed on what they would like to see when it comes to food on campus in Spring 2021
    • Contracted with Aramark as new dining services provider on July 1, 2022
    • Food contract consultant hired June 2021

    Develop DIBE professional development programs for staff and faculty

    Currently participating in the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA); we will include staff and faculty in programming and develop stronger support for DIBE in hiring and training policies and procedures

    • Diversity training was provided to faculty search committees
    • Initiated training for staff search committees with general recruitment information, including labor and employment regulations and diversity
    • The Title IX Coordinator is working with HR to introduce mandatory annual sexual violence prevention training for all employees, as well as diversity and inclusion education into employee on-boarding and annual training
    • Three-year membership in LACRELA

    Ensure that all staffing requests and hiring decisions for the next five years focus on achieving the Tactical Plan’s two most central targeted priorities: DIBE and Retention

    Establish hiring policies and procedures throughout the University that prioritize DIBE and retention objectives as part of candidates’ qualifications in addition to expertise and credentials

    • Faculty and staff advertisements will have language focused on DIBE; in addition, search committees will take diversity and anti-discrimination training as a part of the overall training about how to conduct a successful search
    • HR designed and implemented a tool within Interfolio to capture applicants’ demographic data; this tool enables the evaluation of diversity across different stages of the selection process, including application, initial interview, and final interview

    Develop more competitive exempt staff compensation metrics

    Maintain annual salary increases for exempt employees; determine benchmarks and do an internal salary study to ensure that staff compensation is competitive

    • *Complete/Maintaining*
    • HR completed a compensation analysis that identified positions’ salary ranges; 93% of positions are within 90% of their target
    • HR is identifying additional sources of data to provide more depth to the salary analysis, such as EduComp
    • The first phase of the Exempt Salary Study allocations was completed July 1, 2022 and phase two was completed July 1, 2023; the salary study data was updated prior to July 1, 2023

    Ensure that campus buildings and grounds are in good repair and accessible, and for new construction consider accommodations beyond compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

    Include accessibility audit and repairs into annual maintenance budgets and practices; prioritize accessibility in Campus Master Plan for renovations and new building projects

    • ADA accessibility projects that are in progress are listed on the SU Construction Projects webpage
    • All new construction and renovation projects will meet or exceed ADA/TAS standards
    • Planned hiring of Texas Accessibility Standards consultant to audit the University for current status and make recommendations to maintain and improve accessibility across the campus

    Increase alumni involvement and alumni inclusion efforts

    University Relations will work with Alumni Council and local chapters to better integrate alumni into the University community

    • A new local chapter event menu was introduced to alumni officers to increase events in these regions
    • Developed and published an inventory of career-related volunteer opportunities for alumni
    • The Alumni Council has expanded to 30 members plus two student representatives. Three committees will be formed to focus on alumni to alumni, alumni to university, and alumni to student connections.