Francis Marion University is a four-year public institution established by the state of South Carolina. It is located in the northeastern part of the state near the city of Florence and has nearly 4,000 students. Its purpose is threefold: to provide students with an excellent education, stimulate inquiry and research, and serve the Pee Dee region and the state of South Carolina.
Francis Marion University adheres to the primary purpose of its establishment as a college in 1970: to make available excellent educational programs for the people of the region and the state. The University offers bachelor’s degrees in a wide range of liberal arts disciplines, as well as in the health sciences, education, and business. The University also offers professional degrees at the baccalaureate, master’s, and specialist levels and a professional doctorate. While maintaining high standards, we serve students with a broad range of preparation and ability. We seek a wide variety of students, primarily from the Pee Dee region, but also from the entire state, other states, and foreign countries. We believe that a student body diverse in age, racial and ethnic background, and country of origin enriches the education of all students. To achieve its educational goals, the University has outstanding faculty members distinguished by high achievement and diverse academic backgrounds. We provide traditional and, when appropriate, non-traditional instruction, access to an excellent library as well as electronic resources, and staff members committed to student learning and success. A low student-faculty ratio and faculty concern for the individual student help us to achieve our goals. The University recognizes the importance of the out-of-the-classroom experience and offers opportunities for students to engage in activities that promote personal growth. In addition, the University provides students with special learning opportunities, such as an honors program, internships, study abroad destinations, and cooperative degree programs.
Since our highest priority is excellence in teaching and learning, we believe that intellectual inquiry and analysis by students and faculty members are essential. We encourage all scholarly pursuits, including student research for courses and faculty research for presentation and publication and for use in the classroom. The University provides faculty members with support for professional development through resources for innovative teaching, scholarship, and service. Our goal of an academic experience built on inquiry and research as well as the transmission of information allows students to develop their ability to think and communicate, to gain knowledge and skills, to pursue a career or further study, to appreciate the creativeness of the human mind, to be aware of the human and natural environment of the world, and to have the capacity to pursue a life of learning and understanding.
The University also serves the needs of Florence and the surrounding area in ways beyond formal education. Numerous artistic and cultural activities, athletic programs, health initiatives, and outreach efforts benefit not only our students, but also the community. To foster the economic development of the region, we offer consulting services to business, industry, and government. Academic and practical assistance to area schools is basic to our endeavors. Faculty and staff members participate in and contribute to a wide range of community activities.
Francis Marion emphasizes liberal arts education while offering new academic programs and innovative technology. It is small enough to provide attention to each student, but large enough to offer a variety of academic and cultural resources. It thus combines the advantages of a liberal arts college with the resources and programs of a public university.
Assumptions, Objectives, and Strategies
1. Academic Focus
Francis Marion University is a comprehensive public institution offering students an advanced education in academic disciplines and professions based on a strong liberal arts foundation.
2. Student Body
While maintaining its commitment to educating students from the Pee Dee region, Francis Marion University must incrementally increase its enrollment from other areas of South Carolina, as well as nationally and internationally.
Appreciable resource growth for Francis Marion University will be dependent on (1) increasing student enrollment and retention, and (2) increasing financial support from the private sector.
Francis Marion University must develop and implement an institution-wide technology plan that addresses the future technology needs of students, faculty, staff and administrative personnel, and maintain the efficacy of existing technology systems.
Francis Marion University must represent itself to others as an institution that provides quality educational opportunities for its constituencies and is committed to academic rigor through excellence in teaching, research, and service.
Francis Marion University’s athletic programs must garner greater community and campus interest while increasing reliance upon community resources. Francis Marion will maintain competitive athletic programs to benefit the student athlete.
Francis Marion University must ensure the diversity of its students and achieve greater diversity in the hiring and promotion of faculty and staff.
8. Faculty, Staff and Administrative Development
Recognizing that Francis Marion University’s faculty and staff are its most important and enduring assets, the University must cultivate the career growth and development of its employees.
9. Physical Campus and Campus Safety
Francis Marion University must maintain and expand its physical facilities to preserve their beauty and to enhance the viability and environmental sustainability of the campus. Francis Marion will continue to invest in campus safety and security improvements in both the academic, student service, and student residence.
10. Community Relations
Francis Marion University must strive to identify, understand and accommodate the community and foster collaboration to achieve University and community growth.
11. Campus Governance
Francis Marion University’s future success depends upon the cooperation and cohesion of the faculty, staff, administration and students in collectively addressing needs and supporting its mission.
12. Student Development
Francis Marion University will maintain and expand a variety of student support services, as well as provide opportunities for students to develop interpersonal and leadership skills.
13. Arts and Culture
Francis Marion University will enrich the artistic and cultural experiences of its students and the surrounding community.
Maintain and expand quality academic programs and maintain academic accreditations as indicators of program quality. 1., 5., 10., 11.
- Continue the University Accreditation Committee’s supervision of accreditation efforts.
- Regularly evaluate the University’s general education program.
- Study the feasibility of additional programs.
- Familiarize faculty with accreditation standards and procedures.
- Continue to improve self-study reporting and documentation.
Improve student academic success rates. 1., 2., 5., 12.
- Collaborate with state technical colleges and engage in articulation agreements to ensure that transfer courses, which meet FMU general education requirements, are comparable to FMU courses.
- Coordinate the existing efforts of academic areas to work with local schools.
- Involve academic disciplines in enhancement of school instruction
- Encourage qualified liberal arts students to pursue secondary education careers
- Participate in statewide efforts to align high school and university curriculums.
- Establish formal systems designed to improve graduation rates
- Raise overall admission standards while continuing to ensure educational access for students in the Pee Dee.
- Expand tutoring and mentoring services.
- Expand services which promote academic success.
- Engage in practices that support high acceptance rates into professional schools and graduate programs.
- Provide for the needs of international students.
Continue to build an excellent faculty and staff. 8., 5., 7., 11.
- Continue to recruit faculty with excellent teaching skills and scholarly potential.
- Strive to recruit faculty from underrepresented populations.
- Encourage FMU students from underrepresented populations to return to Francis Marion in a teaching capacity.
- Continue the support/mentor system for new faculty.
- Continue to provide adequate professional development funding for faculty research and development.
- Raise faculty salaries.
- Continue to address salary compression and discrepancies in compensation.
- Encourage FMU faculty to participate in leadership-building initiatives.
- Continue to cultivate professional development opportunities for staff.
Increase opportunities for all students and faculty to become aware of multicultural and global issues and to have international educational opportunities. 1., 2., 8., 12.
- Develop educational opportunities in other countries.
- Enhance curriculum that deals with international issues.
- Promote and expand international exchange programs.
- Increase interaction between U.S. and international students.
Develop the technology on campus to address future needs of students, faculty, staff and administrators. 4., 8., 12.
- Provide students with more opportunities to develop technological skills for a global economy.
- Develop and support the technology resources of the campus.
- Develop infrastructure for planning and developing online and hybrid courses.
Maintain investments in information resources and educational support services. 4., 12.
- Continue adequate funding for and updating of library resources.
- Continue adequate funding for and updating of support units on campus such as the Media Center, Writing Center, Tutoring Center, etc.
Increase student enrollment and retention 1,, 2., 3., 10., 12., 13.
- Work with Pee Dee area high schools to ensure that graduates are prepared for higher education.
- Swamp Fox Writing Project and Course Alignment projects make specific curricular connections between area teachers and FMU professors.
- Center of Excellence programs for teachers of children of poverty enhance understanding of student performances
- Expand curricular offerings to non-traditional students and retirees and consider alternative delivery systems that might be more attractive to these groups.
- Ensure affordability of tuition and fees in order to maintain the University’s focus on access and equity.
- Provide a vibrant campus life through a variety of artistic, cultural and recreational events.
- Identify at-risk students and provide strategies for their increased success.
- Increase number of University Life offerings and other support programs such as GearUp in order to improve students’ academic success.
- Offer community outreach opportunities that will benefit area residents such as FMU’s ARCH projects and Fred R. Sheheen Non-Profit Leadership Initiative.
- Continue to develop our marketing efforts to include our web presence.
- Continue on-campus scholarship interviews with faculty and staff members.
Increase external funding. 1., 3., 6., 8., 13.
- Expand scholarship opportunities for top academic students.
- Explore external funding opportunities for faculty research and development.
- Enhance a proactive Grants Office.
- Coordinate new funding efforts and initiatives across disciplines,
- Increase funding for the Francis Marion University Foundation.
- Solicit more support and assistance from alumni while strengthening their ties to the University.
Increase opportunities for student involvement within business, governmental, and public organizations. 10., 12., 13.
- Support efforts by faculty who plan, arrange, and supervise internships and other non-traditional educational opportunities.
- Explore cooperative work-study programs within the community.
Emphasize career development and job placement services for all students of the University. 2., 10., 12.
- Improve effectiveness of current programs.
- Develop formal job placement relationships with local business, governmental and public organizations.
- Work with the Alumni Office and academic departments to develop a systematic alumni tracking system.
Raise the quality, variety, and visibility of athletic, artistic, cultural, and other community-supported programs. 5., 6., 7., 10., 13.
- Increase the attendance at home sports events, as well as at artistic and cultural events in the FMU Performing Arts Center and on campus.
- Continue to explore opportunities for recruiting coaches from underrepresented populations.
- Maintain and publicize high academic performance by students involved in these activities.
- Provide support for artistic and cultural endeavors.
Develop the physical facilities, natural resources and infrastructure of the campus. 9.
- Maintain attractive on-campus housing.
- Continue to develop and enhance the campus in a manner that will increase student involvement in campus life.
- Engage in renovation, construction and modification of campus facilities including Founders Hall and Cauthen Educational Media Center.
- Encourage environmental sustainability.
Enhance the University’s image through an aggressive, focused marketing campaign. 2., 5., 10., 11., 13
- Maintain and improve national status in terms of accreditation, success of graduates and faculty achievement.
- Publicize the advantages of liberal arts, business, education, and professional degrees.
- Increase publicity of the successes of the University’s students, alumni and faculty.
- Cooperate with industrial, business, healthcare and community non-profit organizations to understand and respond to their needs and concerns.
- Continue to plan and market campus activities so as to attract the public to the University’s campus.
- Continue to plan and market off-campus events to attract interest in FMU.