As one of the few public institutions in the region, Bridgewater State University is an institution of enormous importance to minority, academically at-risk, and low-income students in southeastern Massachusetts. The University is under increasing pressure to serve a growing population of students, and planning and assessment are needed to ensure that a rising competitiveness for admission does not exclude the students the University is dedicated to serving. Numerous programs have been developed and implemented in recent years to support student success, including a diversity initiative involving needs assessment and resulting in a new office, director, and council; new academic programming and curricula that embrace diversity issues and themes; greater opportunities for students in coursework, research, and creative work in close association with faculty; and improved planning and services in advising and learning assistance. Yet areas of deep concern have arisen about the persistence and academic success of students of color and those identified as academically atrisk.
This is an opportune time for Bridgewater to engage in a planning process marshalling the resources and energy from all campus sectors to engage with the challenges we face as an institution.
Founded in 1840 as one of the first state normal schools, Bridgewater State University (BSU) is a comprehensive public institution of higher education (Master’s I). Bridgewater is the largest institution in the State university system and the fourth largest of 29 public universities and colleges in the state (including UMass and the community colleges). Total enrollment for 2008-09 is 10,269 students, with 8119.92 FTE’s. Ninety-four percent of our students are from Massachusetts; 97% of undergraduates are from New England.
The mission of BSU, revised and adopted in 1999, is “to educate the residents of Southeastern Massachusetts and the commonwealth, and to use its intellectual, scientific and technological resources to support and advance the economic and cultural life of the region and the state.” The University is strongly committed to serving the region’s needs and is most committed to students who lack the educational and cultural opportunities available to their wealthier counterparts. With a rising applicant pool, the competitiveness of a BSU education is increasing, but the college is committed publicly, strategically, and financially to its tradition of access and affordability – making a college education available to all our region’s students who seek it.
Bridgewater offers 100 degree programs spanning three schools: Arts and Sciences, Education, and Business. The University is known for the preparation and in-service education of teachers, but the largest school is Arts and Sciences. Professionally-oriented programs in accounting, management, public administration, social work, organizational psychology, and communication disorders provide professional capacity for our region. At the graduate level, Bridgewater delivers accredited master’s degree programs in high-need areas including education, counseling, criminal justice, and public administration. BSC, located in the center of southeastern Massachusetts, serves the area’s 51 cities and towns and approximately 1.5 million residents. Southeastern Massachusetts is the fastest growing region in the Commonwealth: the Census Bureau predicts the population in the region to grow by 8.8% between 2000 and 2020.