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Powering educational innovation

Since 1901, the University of Rochester has provided degree programs for teachers, educational leaders, counselors, and human development professionals, educating more than 11,000 students. Our faculty have set the standard for professional practice in the Rochester area and made impactful contributions to research in their fields. Yet today, the Warner School of Education and Human Development is at a crossroads. We are facing an enrollment market saturated with education programs, while interest in teaching as a profession is at its lowest in 50 years. Moreover, the amount of funding available for research is declining, with competition from around the country for limited dollars. Our newfound reality requires the Warner School to plot a new trajectory, one that is driven by innovation, creativity, and academic excellence in alignment with our mission and with the changing world we serve.  

As we chart our path forward, we must differentiate ourselves from the sea of sameness among education schools. Our strategic plan is designed to clarify our path to sustained excellence in a manner that allows our academic and research portfolios to be responsive to those we serve and to meet our fiscal and strategic objectives. At the same time, it is a blueprint for a differentiated focus and narrative for the school’s future. 

The Future of Warner


Our faculty and students are passionate about broadening our understanding of the world through innovative research. Together, they generate and disseminate knowledge leading to new understandings of education and human development across the lifespan, on which more effective educational, social, and equitable policies and practices can be grounded.

Yet the impact of research is even greater when considered in the context of our reputation, the ability to recruit students and faculty, and the potential to bolster the school’s fiscal strength. Research and scholarly impact provide a powerful platform to amplify our reputation among peers in critical rankings, as well as with prospective students or faculty when they are considering the Warner School as a place to study or work. With our budget being heavily reliant on tuition dollars, research grants and contracts can provide the opportunity to broaden our reach and impact. As such, we must be agile and focused on research contributions to the financial pipeline. 

Intensifying research and discovery will not only strengthen our graduate programs but also bring the Warner School more in alignment with the University goal to become an eminent global research institution. Warner research efforts will include transdisciplinary efforts focused on areas of distinction and consequence, including efforts to improve equity, inclusion and justice through research and practice, and in conjunction with entrepreneurs seeking to partner with the University. 

Our educational programs prepare and support both new and experienced practitioners and researchers who are empirically knowledgeable, reflective, skilled, and equity minded. Our students learn to work as caring educators, counselors, and human development professionals who can bridge research, theory, and practice, and serve as leaders of systemic change efforts.

The success of our students is proof of the fulfillment of Warner’s mission. To continue to meet our mission, Warner will reconceptualize the student experience, putting the student at the center of all that we do. We will also enhance recruitment and retention strategies. Additionally, we will pivot in what we teach and how we teach so that our alumni are prepared to thrive. Student success, fully online degrees, and expanded degree offerings in new fields will ensure Warner can provide the academic and co-curricular experiences that prepare our practitioners for the future. 

Access is rooted in opportunity. And opportunity occurs by tapping into the power of external support and its ability to open doors for others to experience the benefits of education. By expanding learning programs for new audiences and increasing financial support for traditional Warner students, Warner can increase access and opportunity for more learners.

Our educational programs and partnerships engage individuals and organizations in learning and professional practice. We believe new opportunities exist for organizations, alumni, and individuals to benefit from what the Warner School has to offer. Access and opportunity will be increased through establishment of the Warner School as the hub of the University for professional learning opportunities in educational institutions, businesses, and nonprofit organizations, as well as for individuals seeking non-degree options. 

Warner will be an innovative learning organization that enables the growth and development of our faculty, staff, and students through our culture and climate. This is defined by school- and university-wide policies, procedures, and processes that shape and impact who we are and what we accomplish as an organization, and how we prepare our alumni practitioners to create inclusive learning and healing environments. Warner is dedicated to fostering and living as an anti-oppressive learning community in which all stakeholders are seen, can be present in their authentic selves, and our community amplifies all voices. 

Our strategic plan is critical to our future, and it cannot be implemented successfully without a strong culture. Warner will be driven by an inclusive culture that supports the wellbeing of students, staff, faculty, and practitioners. Our efforts will seek to create a learning and working environment that supports growth, professional development, wellbeing, trust, collaboration, and restorative practice. Rooted in our mission and core belief in the power of diversity, equity and inclusion, Warner will also strengthen its anti-oppression efforts through the Council for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, which will champion our DEI efforts across internal and external programs, initiatives, and processes. 

Strategic Impact Initiatives

This strategic plan will come to life through the impact of strategic initiatives that are supported by our four pillars. We have identified new initiatives that will start immediately as well as clarified existing work that aligns with the plan. In addition, we have identified future initiatives that would align with both our strategic pillars and the University strategic plan. The sum of these strategic impact initiatives represents the opportunities for Warner to drive meaningful change.

Research Hubs for Impact

Focus resources, efforts to support expansion of impactful, differentiating research areas of focus that elevate our portfolio and align our research efforts with university aspirations, while creating the infrastructure to support success.

Institute for Learning & Innovation

Create a university-wide Institute for Learning and Innovation that expands our community and global impact through learning, consulting, and partnerships to educational organizations, as well as non-profits, businesses, and individuals.

Strategic Enrollment Management, Including Warner Online

Develop a data-informed strategic framework to align our fiscal, academic, co-curricular and enrollment resources with our changing environment, including launching Warner Online learning.

Student Success: Preparing Our Scholars for the Future

Establish an Office of Student Success to coordinate school-wide approaches to student services and engagement, while addressing gaps in retention and timely completion.

Collaborative initiatives with UR Boundless Possibilities

The Rochester Equity Accelerator 

Create a university incubator for research/innovation to fast-track exponential change related to equity through research and professional practice. Partner with entrepreneurs and outside groups to drive change, fund initiatives. 

UR EdTech Collaborative

Capitalize on EdTech explosion to solve problems in education, meet needs of learners and create educational systems that support growth. Partner with industry and transdisciplinary University experts to advance the field. 

Ever forward

Warner’s strategic plan commences from a place of strength and builds on the efforts of those who work at Warner and bring its mission to life every day. While we must acknowledge the challenges before us and the work that lies ahead, the possibilities are boundless! For 121 years, we’ve left our mark on the University of Rochester and the world. The University of Rochester’s continued strength requires a stronger school of education. To ensure we continue with our collective impact, Warner’s strategic plan will guide us on the next part of our journey.

Student sitting at desk writing on paper

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