Since the resignation of former President Donald Taylor, the Cabrini community has been concerned about the university’s future. Some of the worries were confirmed on Oct. 28 when Cabrini announced its troubling financial status and plan to combat subsequent problems.
Cabrini students received an email from Interim President Helen Drinan about a three-year comprehensive plan aiming to reduce costs and increase profit. The communication assured that continuous decisions will be made to benefit everyone at the university.
Amy Lambert, chair of the board of trustees, said, “It is important to know that in all of our discussions, in all of our thoughts about the plan, our first and foremost focus is always around mission and students. We use those as our guidepost.”
Faculty and staff received extensive information about employment losses and department reorganizations in a separate email. Faculty members looking to discuss the material were invited to a town hall meeting on Nov. 2, or to speak with Drinan directly.
Drinan said, “I can’t be transparent when it has to do with someone’s personal information but short of that, I have to draw a line only with regard to Cabrini’s true safety and security … I think you need to be overtly transparent before you’re going to see any increase of trust. Over time, as the transparency seems authentic then people will trust more.”
Drinan has been honest about Cabrini’s financial problems, and she continues to voice ideas of partnerships and a brand relaunch as potential solutions.
Creating a fruitful graduate program
A frequent term thrown around since the Cabrini announcement is “merger.” The School of Education has merged with the School of Business and Professional Studies, but what scares the community most is that Cabrini may have to merge with another university.
Drinan said, “What we’re looking to do is more of a partnership. In a partnership, we would try to maintain our independence, our name and legacy, our strengths, our athletics program, and all the things that define Cabrini. But we would do it so that we could reduce the overall cost of operation by sharing resources with another institution.”
The collaboration is focused on improving Cabrini’s graduate school.
According to Patricia Bradley, director of institutional communications and web strategy, a mere 300 students are enrolled in the graduate program. A prime example is the Educational Leadership Doctorate program, which was launched in August 2022. The program garners a meager 20 students.
Cabrini currently offers a master of accounting, master of arts in criminology and criminal justice, global master of business administration, master of education, master of science in data science, master of science in leadership, a doctorate in education leadership (100% online or hybrid), and a doctorate in organization development and change. These programs may be altered with developments in the graduate program.
Through discussions with Drinan, a partnership may allow for shared services at the graduate level while marketing the undergraduate program to new audiences.
Drinan said, “I think Cabrini has some very solid graduate programs but they are very small in terms of enrollments … It’s expensive to run a small graduate program with so few students, and frankly, I don’t think the student experience is as good when there are too few students in a program.”
The Cabrini brand
Cabrini University does not have a national brand, as the university is not known on a large scale. Drinan hopes to strengthen the Cabrini brand with the help of an outside company, Stream. At the town hall, Drinan announced David Regn, board of trustees member and co-founder of Stream Companies, will provide Stream services pro bono.
However, the president’s office said, “We are at a very early stage with David Regn and his company, Stream Companies, and have not yet finalized or confirmed the engagement or scope of work that will be undertaken.”
The marketing strategy will include a website overhaul, and a determination of the University’s target audience and market.
Amy Persichetti, chair of writing and narrative arts, said, “The market in higher education right now is highly complex and rapidly changing … This is going to be a transitional period, and those are no fun, but as students, your main concern should continue to be getting your educations, playing on your teams, and having fun with your friends discovering who you are. This is what you are here to do. We will take care of the rest.”
Cabrini is starting the process of focus group research, interviews, and meeting with different constituencies to find the best approach for their rebranding.
Bradley said, “For branding, we are looking at first quarter 2023. So, I would say that we will go through the branding process by the end of March.”