“We are on the move. Inherent in Focus 2011 are the ideals of raising the bar for ourselves. Past
strategic plans have centered on growth. This one is about quality. This is a dynamic time in our
history and growth will be measured in the enhancement of quality across the board,” said Chancellor
John Bowen ’77 in fall 2008, two years into Johnson & Wales University’s fourth strategic plan.
Over the past two decades, JWU has plotted its development in five-year plans. During the years
between the first plan and the launch of FOCUS 2011 in 2006, enrollment had grown from 7,752 to
16,561; the university’s annual budget increased from $72 million to $249 million and its endowment
grew from $9 million to $201 million. While successive planning efforts resulted in a large and fiscally
strong university, it became increasingly clear that the trajectory aimed at expansion and growth could not
be sustained. The university faced several interrelated strategic challenges to ensure a secure institutional
future while enhancing the student experience inside and outside the classroom.
When the university was formalizing FOCUS 2011, enrollment was still growing. But by 2006, student
debt had increased 25 percent over the previous four years while retention remained stagnant at 67.3
percent. Administrators were noticing that students were leaving without a degree in hand, most often due
to affordability, but sometimes because they were unprepared for the rigors of college. While the institution
was successful in many respects, major changes were needed to remain competitive going forward.
Through FOCUS 2011, JWU made a commitment to provide the university’s students with a high
quality, industry relevant education and an outstanding experience that they could afford. “FOCUS 2011
was a plan that united faculty, staff and students in the pursuit of excellence,” Bowen says as the plan
comes to its close, taking measure of goals set and surpassed.