While the University of Dallas is in better shape than ever, we operate in an increasingly challenging financial environment — one that is imperiling comparable, and even larger, universities. Because of this and to guard our institution from a similar fate, we have been working diligently to identify new programs that are consistent with our mission and that have the potential to generate revenue, grow enrollment and add to the university’s reputation and recognition.
One such proposal the university is considering is the addition of an adult degree completion program, which would enable us to expand our mission to an underserved population – adult learners seeking to complete their undergraduate education — while strengthening our financial future.
As you read through the following questions and answers, keep in mind that this proposal is still in the discovery phase. The decision to move forward or not will be based on exhaustive research, which will ultimately help determine the program’s viability.
As currently envisioned, the proposed program would offer adult learners who are at least 25 years old an opportunity to complete undergraduate degrees at the University of Dallas. Graduates of the proposed new adult degree completion program would earn either a Bachelor of Liberal Studies or a Bachelor of Business Studies degree.
New curricula developed for the proposed program would incorporate the spirit of the liberal arts and the Catholic intellectual tradition that is the heart of our Core curriculum.
There would be absolutely no changes to the Core or the curriculum of Constantin College as a result of this proposed new program.
While a number of new programs have been and are being considered, it is this new adult degree completion program that preliminarily appears to offer the greatest promise and meet the largest demand. It will enable us to expand our mission to a local population of significant size — adult learners seeking to complete their undergraduate education.
In addition, recent conversations with local and national corporations brought to light the challenges that many companies face attracting and retaining employees in an increasingly competitive environment. More than 10 Fortune 500 companies have expressed interest in a flexible adult degree-completion program such as the one being proposed in direct conversation with the university this year.
The proposed new program will not move forward unless there is absolute confidence that there will be no damage to the university’s academic integrity. Many other highly regarded institutions, including Ivy League schools, offer similar programs that have not negatively affected their reputations.
The proposed adult degree completion program would be a genuine outgrowth of the university’s mission and its “institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life” (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 13).
In addition, this proposal is consistent with Pope St. John Paul II’s reminder that “every Catholic university feels responsible to contribute concretely to the progress of the society within which it works: for example, it will be capable of searching for ways to make university education accessible to all those who are able to benefit from it, especially the poor or members of minority groups who customarily have been deprived of it” (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 34).
Institutional strategy component 5.05 beginning on page 21 of “University of Dallas Strategic Plan: A Guide for Growth through 2020” directs the university to “improve sustainability of the university through extending its reach to new and growing populations. ... Accordingly, the university shall research and propose a plan directly targeted to attract, matriculate and retain transfer students and adult degree completion students that is in concert with the university’s mission, strengths and resources.”
While there is still much data to be collected on the viability of the proposed adult degree completion program, preliminary research indicates that the market for such a program is quite large. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 1.3 million people in Dallas/Fort Worth who are 25 and older and either have some college with no degree or an associate degree.
In addition, a recent survey conducted by the university of a representative sample of that demographic group found:
Two degree programs have been proposed, a bachelor's degree in liberal studies (BLS) and a bachelor's degree in professional studies (BPS). The sample curricula are built upon courses students will have completed while earning an associate degree like those offered by Northlake College. The five foundations courses, for example FND 3304, The American Story, are intended as bridge courses that build upon what students have learned in courses taken at other colleges and lead them into the liberal arts approach of the University of Dallas.
Given the demographics of the ideal prospective student — working professionals — we fully expect that most adult degree completion students will opt for evening, weekend and online classes, which best fit their busy personal and professional schedules. There is a possibility that some adults will take courses offered by Constantin College. This will most likely be courses required for both curricula. For example, the sample curricula include ENG-1301 Literary Tradition I, which will be offered by both programs. Constantin students under the age of 25 will not be able to take courses offered by the adult completion program.
The university is not going to eliminate or even alter in any way one of the very things that distinguishes us and that embodies our dedication to the pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue as the proper and primary ends of education.