Strategic Plan 2018 - 2021

Divine Word College: Strategic Plan for 2018-2021

May 11, 2018


Divine Word College, a Roman Catholic seminary in the tradition of the Society of the Divine Word, educates men and women for missionary service as priests, brothers, sisters and laypersons. For this purpose, we offer an education that combines spiritual formation, a liberal arts curriculum, language learning and mission preparation within an environment that teaches and honors the rich cultural diversity of the world. This spiritual, academic, and experiential preparation serves the particular learning needs of our students, promotes their development as whole and responsible persons, and fosters a lifelong commitment to serving God’s people.


Institute and implement new academic programs to increase student enrollment, to address student learning needs, and to improve student learning outcomes.

[Rationale: In the previous DWC Strategic Plan for 2014-2017, the main focus was on enhancing faculty members’ teaching through encouraging active professional engagement, implementing an annual faculty evaluation process, introducing new instructional methodologies and technologies. In 2018-2021, the main focus will be on enhancing students’ learning through increased student classroom enrollment, accessing existing and potential student markets, and improving student learning outcomes in deficient areas.]

Objective 1: Institute a new Certificate Program in Pre-Theology.

[Rationale: The new Certificate Program in Pre-Theology would be in accordance with the USCCB and PPF-5 requirements in philosophy and theology requisite for priesthood. The existing market for this certificate is SVD associate candidates and the potential market is candidates from other men's religious orders. When successful, the certificate will lead to an increase in undergraduate enrollment and an increase in actual tuition revenue. Most, if not all, of the potentially required courses are already taught at DWC. No additional faculty hires are anticipated beyond the current staffing levels, except perhaps for one adjunct instructor.]

Action Step 1.1: Assess the market for seminarians from the SVD and other
men’s religious orders. (Fall 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 1.2: Define the curriculum utilizing PPF-5 requirements and existing Pre-Theology certificate programs. (Fall 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 1.3: Secure requisite approvals from BOA, BOT, and HLC. (Spring 2019; cost: $925 HLC substantive change fee)

Action Step 1.4: Market to the SVD and select men’s religious orders. (Spring 2019; cost: $2,000 promotional costs)

Action Step 1.5: Implement in Fall 2019. (Fall 2019; cost: $6,000 for one adjunct instructor annually)

Objective 2: Institute a new Certificate Program in Orientation for Intercultural Ministry.

[Rationale: The new Certificate Program in Orientation for Intercultural Ministry would be marketed to new SVD and SSpS missionaries to the US, and to new extern clergy in regional US dioceses. There is already an existing market for this certificate program among new SVD and SSpS missionaries to the US; a pilot program is running among current students. When successful, the certificate will lead to an increase in undergraduate enrollment and an increase in actual tuition revenue. Several new courses may need to be created, requiring the hire of one full-time or two adjunct instructors.]

Action Step 2.1: Assess the existing and potential markets from the SVD, SSpS, other men and women religious orders, and regional diocese. (Fall 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 2.2: Define the curriculum according to the assessed market needs and SVD charism. (Fall 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 2.3: Secure requisite approvals from BOA, BOT, and HLC. (Spring 2020; cost: $925 HLC substantive change fee)

Action Step 2.4: Market to the SVD, SSpS, select men and women religious orders, and select regional diocese. (Spring 2020; cost: $1,500 promotional costs)

Action Step 2.5: Implement in Fall 2020. (Fall 2020; cost: $71,000 for one full-time or $12,000 for two adjunct instructors annually)

Objective 3: Implement the new ESL 8-level curriculum and 8-week format.

[Rationale: The new ESL 8-level curriculum and 8-week format will be promoted in existing domestic and international markets of SVD & SSpS candidates, other men and women religious, and among diocesan clergy. New potential markets include off-campus international students in the Tri-State area and internationally, with the creation of a local host family network. When successful, the new format will lead to an increase in IELI enrollment, an increase in actual tuition revenue, and measurable improvement in student learning through a clearly-articulated curriculum and program of assessment. The new 8-level format and 20 contact hour faculty load will require the hiring of one full-time instructor, one adjunct instructor, and one part-time administrative assistant. The standardization of curricula will significantly reduce faculty prep time, and increase consistency in SLO achievement across all levels. After two years’ analysis of data and adjustments, IELI will formally initiate pursuit of the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). The application and approval process for CEA accreditation averages about two and a half years.]

Action Step 3.1: Implement the new ESL 8-level format in Fall 2018. (Fall 2018; cost: $100,000 for one full-time instructor plus one adjunct instructor and/or part-time administrative assistant)

Action Step 3.2: Market the new ESL 8-level format in existing domestic and international markets of SVD & SSpS candidates, other men and women religious, among diocesan clergy, and off-campus international students. (Fall 2018; cost: $1,500 promotional costs)

Action Step 3.3: Evaluate and publish reports on curricula, assessment, and student performance annually in January. (January 2019; January 2020; January 2021; cost: negligible)

Action Step 3.4: Commence pursuit of the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). (Fall 2020; cost: $3,300 initial costs; additional $6,850 upon actual site visit)


Objective 4: Increase student scores in critical thinking, academic writing, and oralPresentation.

[Rationale: Three acute areas of student outcomes identified for improvement are critical thinking skills, academic writing ability, and oral performance effectiveness. Student performance in these three areas must demonstrate significant and immediate development, as measured by increased scores on standardized tests, written assignments, and oral presentations. The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) is the current standardized assessment tool used to test freshmen and seniors. The DWC Common Student Writing Rubric is currently utilized for grading writing assignments in undergraduate courses. There is no existing rubric for assessment of oral presentations.]

Action Step 4.1: Implement strategies to improve academic writing in all undergraduate courses. (Spring 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 4.2: Incorporate two andragogy instructional methods that encourage critical thinking skill development into 300 and 400-level course syllabi. (Fall 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 4.3: Incorporate at least one oral presentation assignment into 300 and 400-level course syllabi. (Fall 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 4.4: Assess student scores in critical thinking, academic writing, and oral presentation skills utilizing standardized testing and rubrics. (Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021; cost: negligible)



Maintain a critical mass of SVD Candidates and a total enrollment sufficient for quality educational programming.

[Rationale: Previous HLC input required a “critical mass” of students, as defined by the institution, for quality effective education in the classroom. In order to have a sufficient number of SVD candidates going to the novitiate, Divine Word College must have a  “critical mass” of students in formation at DWC.]

Objective 5:  Attain and maintain an enrollment of 50 SVD Candidates committed to SVD Charism and DWC’s mission.

[Rationale: Divine Word College has averaged 47 SVD candidates per semester for the last 18 semesters and has averaged sending 6.4 candidates to each novitiate class in the last ten years.  A goal of 50 allows for just above an 8% increase in SVD candidates and will continue to provide sufficient numbers that go to the novitiate). (January 2019:         45; January 2020: 47; January 2021: 50]

Action Step 5.1:  Ensure Tri-Province commitment of personnel for the Vocation  office team.

  • Confirm commitment by the three provincials to appoint a representative on the Trustee Recruitment Committee. (Dec. 2018; cost: negligible)
  • Attendance of representatives at scheduled meetings. (Oct. 2019; annual cost:  $2,000)

Action Step 5.2:  Increase SVD candidate referrals by SVDs 10% to 20 referrals per year.  (May 2020; annual cost: $5,000)

Action Step 5.3:  Engage five current DWC students to assist in religious vocation promotion in the greater Epworth area and their hometown. (May 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 5.4:  Collaborate with young confreres already in vows to produce three videos for use on the Vocation Office website and Facebook Page. (May 2020; cost: negligible)

Action Step 5.5:   Host a collaborative workshop for vocation promoters and Admissions Committee members to work towards implementing a consistent and predictable assessment and admission process.  (Dec. 2019; total cost: $4,000 )

Action Step 6.6:  Re-engage in search engine marketing (SEM) to identify 15 candidates (5 per year) sourced from SEM. (May 2021; annual cost:  $20,000)


Objective 6:   Attain and maintain an enrollment of 125 full-time equivalent students.

[Rationale: Divine Word College has averaged 108 students per semester for the last 18 semesters, with a high of 127 students and a low of 93 full-time students.  A goal of 125 students represents about a 16% increase, which is quite possible given the new programs identified in this strategic plan for the next three years. (January 2019: 115; January 2020: 120; January 2021: 125)]

Action Step 6.1:  Explore the feasibility of dual enrolled courses for high school students and decide or not to pursue the possibility. (May 2020: cost: negligible)

Action Step 6.2:  Implement and advertise a scholarship program for local, lay students to enroll at DWC from within a 5-7 county radius to earn an AA   Degree.  (May 2019; annual cost: $1,000 - two scholarships per year can   be offered with no incremental costs to DWC)

Action Step 6.3:  Complete a written marketing plan to advertise new pre-theology program in collaboration with the VP for Academic Affairs. (May 2019; total cost:  $2,000)

Action Step 6.4:  Develop a written recruitment plan to enroll 15 commuter students into the IELI. (Aug. 2020; annual cost: $500)

Action Step 6.5:  Develop a written marketing plan to enroll more local students in the greater Epworth area into undergraduate classes, especially theology classes.  (July 2019; annual cost: $500)


Objective 7:  Integrate all Admission Office functions (recruitment, financial aid and international student advising) into one effective department.

[Rationale:  With the addition of the Financial Aid Coordinator and the International Student Advisor being included under the Admissions Office, there is opportunity for more integration of all admission functions into a cohesive team. This will help to maintain current staff budget levels and reduce audit concerns related to financial aid concerns. (August 2019)]

Action Step 7.1:  Provide appropriate professional development as needed to all personnel in order to cross-train team members.  (May 2019: annual cost: $2,500)

Action Step 7.2:  Restructure budgeting procedure to collaborate with the DWC business office.  (August 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 7.3:  Evaluate co-locating all Admissions Office functions into one office location.  (August 2018; cost: negligible)



Enhance and Innovate the Religious Formation Program.

 [Rationale:  Divine Word College (DWC) is a seminary and as with all the Catholic seminaries in the United States, DWC must adhere to the Program of Priestly Formation (PPF) developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and at the same  time preserve the charism of the SVD. Guided by the PPF and influenced by the charism of the SVD, the Religious Formation Program (RFP) was developed at DWC. Our goal for the next three years will be the same as the previous strategic plan; however, the emphasis will be on Intercultural Community Formation.  Intercultural Community Formation is the hallmark of the RFP; hence, the Formation Committee wants to continue to improve our program of Intercultural Formation.]

Objective 8: Culturally diversify the SVD personnel in the Formation Committee.

[Rationale: When I arrived at DWC in 2011 all the Formation Directors were SVD Vietnamese. We are getting better but we can continue to diversify the FC.  DWC is a Tri-Province endeavor and so we would like to see the presence of qualified SVDs from  the other two provinces (USS and USW) serve in the FC as well.  he Tri-Province Formation Commission is the umbrella in which the formation program at DWC falls under. It is in this commission that we propose/request future formation directors.]

Action Step 8. 1: Work with the three Provincials and request the other two US                                              provinces (USS and USW) to provide at least one qualified confrere for formation ministry. (Spring 2019)

                  Action Step 8.2:  Have this objective as priority in the Tri-Province Formation  Commission.  (Fall 2018)


Objective 9:  Deepen Intercultural Community Formation.

[Rationale:  DWC is giving a very strong and positive witness to the people in the surrounding areas thanks to its Intercultural Community.  There is, of course, still a lot  of room for improvement and we want to start with the cultural celebrations at DWC. We really want to emphasize the “inter” in the “intercultural” in these celebrations especially at the level of planning, organizing and performing. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, DWC is able to give full scholarship to many religious congregations and dioceses.  Working closely with the Scholarship Committee, we want to give priority to religious congregations in Africa and South America to diversify the residents at Megan Hall.]

Action Step 9.1:  Invite and encourage members of AHA, ACSA and VSA to  be actively involved in each others’ celebrations, i.e. Our Lady of Guadalupe, St.Josephine Bakhita and Lunar New Year. (every December and January)

Action Step 9.2: Continue to diversify the student population, especially in Megan Hall. (Two to three new Sisters from Africa or South America for every  academic year)


Objective 10:  Revise and update the Student Handbook.

[The current Student Handbook dates back to 2010; there have been two revisions and many updates. Since then there have been many changes and some committees no longer exist. The Board of Administration is also in the process of updating, revising and  combining DWC’s administrative and employee handbooks into one.  In that spirit, it is time that we update and revise the Student Handbook.]

Action Step 10.1:  Form groups of three with the members of the FC; each  group will be assigned a section of the Student Handbook to update and revise. (Spring 2019)

Action Step 10.2: Correct and approve each section at the Formation Committee meeting.  (Fall 2020; $4,000 – review by Cottingham & Butler)



Advance and protect the physical and financial well-being of Divine Word College through long-term planning and continuous improvement.

[Rationale:  Divine Word College must maintain high standards for buildings and facilities to meet the needs of the community.This can be accomplished through well-designed planning and outcome-oriented budgeting.]

Objective 11:   Develop 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to guide facility improvements and budgeting requests.

[Rationale:  Long-term planning to maintain and improve DWC buildings and grounds will be critical to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff and SVD’s.]

Action Step 11.1:  Coordinate with Trustee representative(s) and staff to evaluate condition of DWC buildings and grounds. (Oct. 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 11.2:  Survey the DWC community regarding issues and concerns with the current building and grounds. (Dec. 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 11.3:  Develop a policy and procedure to integrate the CIP with the annual budget. (May 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 11.4:  Seek-out and secure various sources of funding to assist with the cost of building and maintenance improvements. (Ongoing; cost:negligible)

Action Step 11.5:  Create a centralized archive area and reduce the amount of  stored materials that do not add value to DWC operations. (June 2019; cost: $10,000)

Objective 12:  Maintain and improve DWC computer Information Systems and infrastructure for students, faculty and staff. 

[Rationale:  Electronic information systems (IS) are vital to modern college operations and for students to realize their maximum achievement potential.

Action Step 12.1:  Survey the DWC community to determine current and future needs pertaining to information systems. (Dec. 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 12.2:   Review current state of information systems with Information Systems Director and BOA.  (Dec. 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 12.3:  Create a 5-year Capital Improvement Plan for the IS department in collaboration with the DWC community. (Jan. 2019; cost:   negligible)

Action Step 12.4:  Develop a budget process that integrates the IS plans into the annual budget.  (Jan. 2019; cost: negligible)

Objective 13:   DWC will develop an inclusive and transparent budget process.

[Rationale: The annual budget is a vital document that guides our efforts and resources.]

Action Step 13.1:   Collaborate with the Board of Trustee’s Finance Committee,and Board of Administration to develop a budget timeline, policy and procedure. (Sept. 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 13.2:  Streamline and codify department processes and procedures related to budget development.  (Mar 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 13.3:  Work collaboratively with staff and faculty to develop an annual budget submission that meets the needs of the entire community.(Mar 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 13.4:  Review budget policies and procedures on an annual basis to reduce waste and streamline processes. (Annual; Cost: negligible)



[Rationale: As Divine Word College prepares missionaries for the future, it also plays a role today as a "good citizen" and a missionary presence, in our neighborhood and around the world.]

Objective 14: Reorganize and strengthen Divine Word Alumni Association.

[Rationale:  Since DWC opened at Epworth in 1964, more than 1500 students have studied here; 672 have earned undergraduate degrees. Thousands more Divine Word alumni have studied at other SVD schools through the years. We have contact with only a fraction of alumni. The three SVD provinces of North America ask that DWC become the organizational center of a reorganized alumni association.]

Action Step 14.1: Update and further develop an alumni database to include alumni from all SVD educational institutions in North America. The  database will be housed within the Development department at DWC.  (beginning in Summer 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 14.2: Hire an Alumni Director to work closely with the DWC  development office. (by Dec 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 14.3: Reach out to all alumni (not only SVDs) to recognize their ongoing missionary commitment and to share their stories. (Spring 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 14.4:  Prepare our current students for future participation in the Alumni Association. (Spring 2019)

Action Step 14.5:  Develop a Distinguished Alumni Award to recognize the achievements of vowed and/or lay alumni as they continue to live missionary ideals in their daily life. (September 2020)

Action Step 14.6: Host another general reunion of alumni at Divine Word  College. (September 2020)


Objective 15: Prepare all members of the DWC Community to confidently share the mission of DWC with others.

[Rationale: DWC is known as the place with the flags... enable community members to offer more information about our mission. They are the best "marketers"; they know the   story and live it.]

Action Step 15.1: Develop a monthly series of short "Did you know..."  statements about DWC and place them in both external and internal communication vehicles.  (Initiate in Aug 2018; cost:  negligible)

Action Step 15.2: Develop a fact card that faculty, staff, students and others can carry with them that contains current data regarding Divine Word College.  (Fall 2018; cost: $250/yr.)

Action Step 15.3: Invite faculty and staff members to bring their social groups to  DWC for Mass, tour and possibly a meal. Groups such as, book clubs, mothers group, prayer groups, etc. could also hold meetings at the college (Fall 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 15.4:  Develop an on-going educational plan to equip DWC  community members with factual responses to the questions often asked  by those unfamiliar with our mission. (Topics may include: How do international students find out about and eventually enroll at DWC? What do students do after they graduate and where do they go? How many  "American students" attend DWC?) (Fall 2019; cost: $1,000 yr.)

Objective 16: Cultivate DWC partners in our own neighborhood.

[Rationale: We have a large number of volunteers and donors from our area, but we do not have a systematic way to address them and recognize their service.]

Action Step 16.1: Include a “Call to Action” in all liturgy aids that suggests ways for people to become partners in mission. (Fall 2018; cost: negligible)

Action Step 16.2: Organize a group of "DWC Friends" including FAN Club members, volunteer tutors, Trustees, Donaghey Award recipients,  Matthew 25 recipients, local benefactors, etc., and develop a systematic  way of  recognizing their efforts and encouraging them to continue playing  an active role in the DWC Mission. (2019; cost: $2,000/yr.)

Action Step 16.3:  Identify and help prepare qualified presenters from within the  DWC Community. Each presenter can be expected to do at least one  presentation per year. Actively seek speaking opportunities at meetings of local organizations through the Dubuque Speakers Bureau and elsewhere (e.g. Optimist Club, Knights of Columbus groups, etc.). (Fall 2019; cost: negligible)

Action Step 16.4:  Invite Serra Club, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Order of Foresters, DBQ Chamber of Commerce and other such organizations to visit for prayer and/or meetings.  (Fall 2019; cost:  negligible)

Objective 17:  Increase the number of General Outreach benefactors for DWC

[Rationale: In the past five years the number of General Outreach benefactors has dropped by 637, while the number of Vietnamese benefactors has increased by 1767.]

Action Step 17.1: Send 50 DWC World newsletters w/reply envelopes, to each  SVD parish in US and Canada, two times a year, the June and February  newsletters. There are 79 SVD parishes in US and Canada. (Beginning in June 2018; cost: approx. $3,500 annually).\

Action Step 17.2: Place a donation button on the DWC Facebook page and share student/alumni stories there and on website. (As soon as possible in conjunction with launch of new website; cost: transaction fees)

Action Step 17.3: Increase specific appeal letters to donors who are lapsed up to 10 years, asking them to renew their support. (On going; cost: approx. $1,000 annually based on 2000 additional letters.)

Action Step 17.4: When receiving memorial gifts, add names to database and  include in newsletter mailings. If they send additional gifts, then send  Annual Fund appeal. (Immediate; cost: negligible)

Objective 18: Fully integrate the DWC development office into the newly-organized  Development Committee of the Chicago Province.

Action Step 18.1: Strengthen our personnel resources by contributing to the  salary of the Executive Director of the Province Development Committee and having an additional SVD staff member. (Summer 2018; cost: $40,000 for the Exec. Dir.; negligible -  contributed services of SVD)

Action Step 18.2: Seek help from the Province Development Committee Executive Director to improve the number of major gifts. (Summer 2018)

Action Step 18.3: Develop and maintain a centralized supply of stories, photos and videos that can be used by anyone as they promote the mission of Divine Word College and the SVD.  Our stories are our "product."  This collection can be built through collaboration with the DWC Admissions, PR and Development Offices, and with the Province Development  Committee. (Spring 2019)

Action Step 18.4: Minimize duplicates of benefactors’ information. (Fall 2019;  cost: negligible)

Action Step 18.5: Request the sharing of names of possible benefactors from  trustees, alumni, DWC partners, employees, students, and SVD parishes. (Fall 2019; cost: negligible)

Approved:  May 5, 2018, Board of Trustees

Approved:  May 11, 2018 Board of Administration 


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