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Strategic Plan: Pivoting to a New Level of Excellence

The Lenoir-Rhyne University strategic plan was launched in 2019 and is built on four themes:

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Exceptional Experience

Provide a transformational experience for our students by cultivating a culture of engagement and student success. We must create and reimagine campus spaces and programming through a campus-wide focus to attract, engage, retain, and graduate our students. Learn More →

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Academic Excellence

Enhance our commitment to academic excellence and enrich our academic profile to increase the value of a Lenoir-Rhyne degree resulting in an increase in net tuition revenue. This requires enhancing existing programs and investing in new programs that align with our mission. We will use technology in innovative ways to teach our students more effectively and expand our programming to meet the needs for students and employers. Learn More →

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Distinctive Identity

Create a compelling and research-informed value proposition that distinguishes Lenoir-Rhyne University and excites our university stakeholders. Lenoir-Rhyne is positioned well to become a focused, recognized leader in higher education in North Carolina and in our region. Learn More →

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Transformative Future

Create new revenue streams and strong financial modeling to ensure sustainability that will facilitate enhancing our investment in students, employees and programs. Our focus will diversify enrollment pipelines and cultivate new strategic partnerships that will ensure a dynamic and vibrant future. Learn More →

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Download the Strategic Plan

The Lenoir-Rhyne University strategic plan, entitled Pivoting to a New Level of Excellence, is the result of a year-long process that engaged the entire Lenoir-Rhyne community and was enthusiastically endorsed by our board of trustees in March 2019.


Outcomes & Metrics

  • Grow graduate and undergraduate enrollment
  • Significantly improve retention and graduation rates
  • Increase net revenue to invest in infrastructure
  • Implement high impact practices
  • Significantly expand alumni giving †    
  • Enhance market awareness by telling our story
  • Develop robust employment outcomes


Strategic Planning Process

In May 2018, Lenoir-Rhyne President Dr. Fred Whitt invited the LR faculty and staff to engage in a campus community discussion that began the thought process for the University’s next strategic plan. Themes emerged around improving and enhancing multiple areas on campus, including academic excellence, student engagement, retention, brand identity, technology and financial strength.

In an effort to provide a transparent process and leverage maximum participation from all three campuses, the University partnered with Credo Higher Education, a nationally known consulting firm whose focus is working with small private universities. In September 2018, members of the LR leadership team met for a two-day workshop with Credo to begin the strategic planning process.

The workshop consisted of reviewing research and analyzing pillars common to thriving private universities. In addition, the leadership team discussed and identified key themes and goals that would be important to move LR to a higher level of excellence over the next five years.

Four strategic themes emerged from the workshop, and these were presented to the LR community in Hickory, Asheville and Columbia. Faculty, staff and students, as well as members of the board of trustees engaged in additional workshops to continue to develop these themes and identify goals of the plan. A broader group of representatives from the campus community was appointed to both the strategic planning team and to theme teams to further refine and prioritize the goals and initiatives within each of four strategic themes.



Fall 2019
We identified 33 first-year initiatives that will be worked on by strategic initiative teams. Progress on these initiatives is ongoing and updates are provided throughout this website.



Leah Beth Hubbard

Leah Beth Hubbard

Special Assistant for Strategic Initiatives, Office of the President

Strategic Planning Team

  • President Fred Whitt, chair
  • Kelli Barnette, associate vice president for enrollment management and director of undergraduate admission
  • Jeff Delbert, assistant professor of communication
  • Katie Fisher, assistant provost and dean of student life
  • Leah Beth Hubbard, special assistant for strategic initiatives
  • Gary Johnson, vice president for academic affairs and provost
  • Peter Kendall, senior vice president for finance and administration
  • Kelly Knetsche, associate vice president for development
  • Veronica McComb, associate professor of history and director of the Honors Academy
  • Rachel Nichols, vice president for enrollment management
  • Cat Niekro, vice president for institutional advancement
  • Jessica O’Brien, assistant librarian and coordinator of instructional technology
  • Kim Pate, vice president for athletics
  • Josh Ring, associate professor of chemistry
  • Mary Shore, dean and rector of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary
  • Tom Turner, assistant professor of business
  • Julie Voss, associate professor of English and director of general education
  • Amy Wood, dean of the Graduate School