I. Summary Mission Statement
Towson University, as the State’s Metropolitan University, focuses on providing highly developed educational experiences and community service through a broad range of intellectual opportunities to a diverse student body at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The academic programs and services offered through the university provide a core quality environment for students to acquire the intellectual and social preparation to achieve their potential as contributing leaders and citizens of the workforce and a complex global society. Faculty, students, and staff serve the region through research and professional outreach that specifically responds to the state’s socioeconomic and cultural needs and aspirations.
II. Institutional Identity
Towson University began as The Maryland State Normal School and was founded in Baltimore City in 1866. In 1915 it moved to its current location in Towson and became the Maryland State Teachers College at Towson in 1935, offering a Bachelor of Science degree in education. The institution’s mission was expanded in 1946 with the introduction of a variety of degree programs in the arts and sciences, and this programmatic development led to its becoming Towson State College in 1963. The move to a more diverse academic portfolio including health professions, business, technology were interwoven into the transition to Towson State University in 1976 and Towson University in 1997. It is Maryland’s largest comprehensive university. The quality of its programs, its educational value, and its focus on student achievement and civic engagement has brought it national recognition as a premier metropolitan institution. With strong baccalaureate programs in the arts and sciences, the fine arts and communication, health and nursing, education, business, information and computer science, and interdisciplinary studies to serve as the foundation, it similarly provides high quality graduate programs in a variety of areas of professional practice and applied fields. Through its programs, staff, and faculty, it seeks to respond to the needs of the region and greater metropolitan area, serve as an engine of change in the academic and socioeconomics environments of the state, and create a productive future for our students, our region, and enrich the lives and opportunities for all members of its community.
The University’s longstanding commitment to creating a multicultural campus is advanced by policies and practices that assure the recruitment and retention of a diversified student body, staff, and faculty who accurately reflect local, regional, national, and global diversity. This commitment is sustained through a focus on community service, democratic principles, and globalization as it relates to the curriculum, services, activities, and partnerships on and off the campus. Through its international education program, it enrolls students from as many as 100 nations. Diversity initiatives provide a direction that mirrors the face of the population in the region and the state, which foster and model a respectful and inclusive environment and serve to prepare all members of the institution to appreciate differences and to live comfortably within an increasingly multicultural society.
The undergraduate curriculum promotes the intellectual skills essential for effective communication, gathering and evaluating information, critical thinking, meaningful use of technology, appreciating diversity, and making informed choices. These skills are grounded through the University’s long-standing commitment to a strong liberal arts core that emphasizes an understanding of the arts and sciences and how their branches of knowledge gather, evaluate, and apply information to reach valid conclusions. The liberal arts core, combined with a commitment to students’ co-curricular experience, also serves to develop intellectual and social skills that will guide students as contributing members of the workforce and of a democratic society.
As a complex comprehensive learning community, the University currently emphasizes the systematic addition of strong undergraduate and graduate programs that represent emerging disciplines, address economic and workforce needs, and serve the metropolitan region. To date, master’s degree programs in the health professions, applied information technology, education, homeland security, business, and a variety of interdisciplinary or applied fields have been developed in response to pressing regional needs and extensive student demands. The four applied doctoral programs build on the foundation and strengths of the University and are in areas that are fundamental to the development and vigor of the institution: Audiology, Occupational Science, Instructional Technology, and Applied Information Technology.
The certification and professional development of educators has been and will remain central to Towson University's future. It is the largest single provider of certified teachers in Maryland and plays a leadership role in the continuing professional development of the state’s educators. The College of Education’s strategies for improving the quality of undergraduate teacher preparation serve as regional and national models, as do its highly regarded Professional Development School Network and the professional development programs of its different centers and projects. To meet the critical needs for more and better teachers in Maryland and the nation, the University has expanded programming in teacher education with plans to add specialized master’s and doctoral programs responding to market demands and the Maryland State Plan.
Towson University is committed to a student-centered learning environment that uses a variety of formats to provide innovative access to information. Towson University’s faculty and staff work actively to develop students as citizens and leaders of the community by combining classroom learning with out-of-class experiences (internships, practica, service-learning, and related experiential opportunities). Through academic partnerships and collaborative programs, it advances the statewide goal of attaining a cost effective and accountable system for delivering high quality post-secondary education. It is an active participant in four regional higher education centers and has expanded its current certificate and baccalaureate programming through formal 2+2 partnerships with community colleges in the state. It works closely with profit and non-profit organizations to provide educational opportunities, including baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate programs meeting the organizations’ specific needs. It has created a technology infrastructure for providing improved access to degree programs for a greater numbers of Maryland residents. In so doing, Towson strengthens Maryland’s role as a national leader in the use of technology to enhance its economy and to improve learning and life-long access to learning for all of its citizens.
Towson 's faculty members actively pursue scholarship and creativity that complement disciplinary knowledge and superior teaching. The University values and rewards equally the scholarships of discovery, teaching, integration, and application. Faculty members also engage in a wide range of activities, which support the University's institutional outreach programs to government, health care organizations, nonprofit groups, education, business, and the fine arts in its region. Its research and consulting centers, such as the Regional Economic Studies Institute, the Center for Geographic Information Sciences, the Center for Applied Information Technology, and the Center for Educational Leadership continue to link faculty expertise with community needs and interests. Partnerships with corporations engage the University both as learners and as teachers. The Maryland Arts Festival, the Children's Dance Division, and numerous faculty and student performances and exhibits throughout the year contribute to the cultural life of the community. The Wellness Center and the Speech and Hearing Clinic provide clinical sites for faculty members and students and serve the well being of members of the community. The Institute for Teaching and Research On Women and The National Center for Curriculum Transformation Resources On Women provide international as well as national services for a full variety of disciplines and agencies.
Towson University’s chief role in responding to Maryland’s workforce needs rests in its ability to respond quickly to changing circumstances and emerging needs by revising or introducing high quality undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and certificate programs. Program development readily can be targeted to support economic and social development as identified by national, state, and regional government agencies. Its plans for expanding its graduate programming, increasing the number of both students and degrees offered, will lead to an increase in the number of teaching and research opportunities available to the graduate student body and will allow the institution to export valuable expertise to regional and state agencies and organizations. This design gives Towson a strong presence in the educational growth of employees from local school districts, health care fields, the arts, government agencies, and technology and service industries, including e-Business.
III. Institutional Capabilities
By Carnegie Classification, Towson University is a Masters (Comprehensive) University I. It has achieved national prominence as a premier metropolitan comprehensive university by offering a wide-range of excellent graduate and undergraduate degree programs and by increasing its regional and national reputation through its focus on student learning, innovative programs and pedagogies, faculty creativity and scholarship, applied and sponsored research, community service, and cultural outreach to business, education, and health care organizations and professions. Its commitments to the active facilitation of learning through a variety of modes as its faculty members’ primary role, and to developing and retaining a diverse student population will sustain its record for high retention and overall six-year graduation rates.
The University has a strong commitment to study in the liberal arts, both as it serves as a general intellectual resource for more specialized disciplinary work and as it enriches students’ cultural and social awareness. A highly regarded general education program provides undergraduates with multiple ways of knowing and specific skills that equip them to reason in and respond to a wide range of work and life settings. Active initiatives to recruit African-Americans, other American minorities, women, and a range of international faculty, staff, and students advance its commitment to diversity and support strong multicultural and international studies programming. It further augments and enriches students’ academic programs through an expanding Honors College experience, extensive practice of faculty-student and student-student mentoring, a model first year experience program, undergraduate research projects, internships, practica, career services, clinical placements, departmental honors, colloquia, forums, and performance and lecture series.
Faculty members value excellent teaching and give it high priority. Their active engagement in scholarship and service generates sustained originality and outstanding performance throughout their academic careers. Their frequent participation in more than one academic unit or department sustains the unusually high number of innovative multi-disciplinary programs offered by the University. Their large number of refereed publications and presentations are noted for their quality and innovation, and the richness and diversity of their research and interests provide a wide array of learning and research opportunities for students, who often engage in collaborative research and creative projects with their instructors.
The University capitalizes on it urban/suburban location by providing varied and distinctive opportunities for students and faculty learning, teaching, and research. It recognizes its obligation to serve at the local, regional, and state levels through its academic programs and professional services. It uses its metropolitan context as the environment for basic and applied research, as a teaching laboratory for the curriculum, and to strengthen its program and course offerings from the baccalaureate to the doctoral level. These strengths also support the ability to draw on national and international candidacy pools for faculty and administrative positions. As part of its pursuit to meet societal needs in a more comprehensive manner, Towson University will move eventually to the Carnegie Classification to the Doctoral/Research Universities – Intensive level. This means the University will maintain a wide range of baccalaureate programs along with further development of graduate education through the doctorate, and it will focus more copiously on applied research.
The University, while designated as a growth institution, maintains its commitment to student-centered, small class engagement. This value is reflected in the Master Plan that calls for substantial modification to and growth of the academic precinct over the next ten years. The plan includes a focus on designing new academic and academic support spaces that emphasize the values of interactive learning, informal teaching and learning communication, and individual student attention.
IV. Institutional Objectives and Outcomes
In keeping with the Towson University 2010 Strategic Plan, the University System of Maryland Strategic Plan, and the Maryland State Plan for Higher Education, the University will pursue the following directions:
Goal 1: Enrollment Management, Growth, and Mix
Goal 2: Student Experience and Success
Goal 3: Partnerships Philosophy
Goal 4: Resources for Success
Convey Towson’s message to the external community/Improve campus inter- and intra communication.
Make the arts and athletics key components of campus life and use both as links to the external community. Solicit feedback from our graduates and their employees to measure our success.
Draft developed, Provost’s Office, 9/20/05
1 st Draft sent to USM Office, 9/20/05
On-campus revisions (PC), 10/10/05
On campus revisions (President’s Council), 10/22/05
Final revisions 11/18/05
Final Draft sent to USM Office, 11/21/05
Approved MHEC Education Policy Committee, 1/11/06
Senate Review and one revision, 2/6/06
Approved MHEC 2/15/06