The Strategic Action Plan was developed through a staged process: a campus wide meeting in 2016 to explore the feasibility of an autism initiative; appointment of an internal/external advisory board; identification by board members of key success variables which must be in place; distillation and review of the mission, vision and strategic imperatives of the program.

The Mission of the Autism Program at Ancilla College

The mission of the Autism Program at Ancilla College (APAC) is to support highly capable college students on the autism spectrum and to give faculty and staff the resources for providing a supportive campus community.  It embraces the core values of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ (PHJC) including openness of spirit, community, simplicity, dignity, and respect which flow from joyful service to all, especially the underserved.  APAC will enhance the quality of campus life and increase the potential for successful careers and/or future academic success.

The Vision for the Future and Sustainability of APAC

Vision statements are only useful when those who create them are committed to keeping them in the foreground of the program or organization.  There may be multiple vision statements which underlie the mission and strategic imperatives.  Vision statements reflect what its proponents believe will be the impact of carrying out the strategic imperatives of the initiative/program.  The following are the vision statements to which APAC is committed:

  • Ancilla College will provide a challenging and supportive environment for capable college students with ASD
  • Ancilla College will provide highly trained faculty and staff in support of students in APAC
  • Ancilla College will be a leader in supporting college personnel across the state and nation, providing support and resources to expand support in the higher education community for students with ASD
  • Ancilla College is about fostering a “family” atmosphere and deep bonds among the cohort of students with ASD, future alumni with ASD and the external community

Strategic Imperatives of the APAC program

The Strategic Imperatives of APAC are more than a set of general goals and were developed through a strategic action planning process.  Rather, they express what must be accomplished and sustained in an exemplary manner for the program to be successful. Ultimately, they express what must be accomplished and sustained for students to experience success.  The strategic imperatives are periodically reviewed by the APAC advisory committee and are the basis for conducting all actions of the program.

The Strategic Imperatives for APAC fall into four broad categories: transition to college life; living and learning in the college environment; transition to the baccalaureate degree and/or career; fundraising and financial sustainability.

The following are the strategic imperatives which focus on transition to college life:

  • Ancilla College must provide comprehensive in-depth training on navigating the college environment prior to the first year of college
  • Ancilla College must provide comprehensive preliminary training regarding social engagement tailored to the individual student
  • Ancilla College must identify and communicate high expectations with regard to social interaction and behavior in the classroom, campus life and the community
  • Ancilla College must communicate high expectations with regard to academic performance and with adherence to the standard rules of campus life

The following are the strategic imperatives for living and learning in the college environment:

  • Ancilla College must provide students the opportunity to live in facilities adapted to students on the high end of the spectrum
  • Ancilla College must provide appropriate accommodations with regard to the individual needs of students on the spectrum
  • Ancilla College must provide ongoing faculty/staff support in continuous improvement of the campus environment and application of best practices in the field
  • Ancilla College must provide high quality/qualified comprehensive counseling/other support services
  • Ancilla College must provide a well-structured process for enhancing social engagement, opportunities for internships and preparation for life beyond college

The following are the key strategic imperatives related to the transition to the baccalaureate and/or career:

  • Ancilla College must provide a comprehensive program for transitioning to the baccalaureate/career at the beginning and throughout the first two years
  • Ancilla College must develop a network of corporate and collegiate networks for career and academic placements with parallel early internship opportunities
  • Ancilla College must assist students in developing career portfolios

The following are the strategic imperatives for fundraising and sustainable financial stability:

  • Ancilla College must establish a transparent and multifaceted fee structure for the initiative which is distinctive but complementary to the institution fee structure
  • Ancilla College must implement an ongoing aggressive fundraising campaign focused on endowments, operational support and facilities
  • Ancilla College must establish a long term and stable funding resource/ budget in support of the program

Mission/Vision/Strategic Imperatives as a Framework for All Activities of APAC

As APAC unfolds, the mission, vision, and strategic imperatives must provide a basis for all activities of the initiative.  Advisory Board meetings and correspondence will make ongoing reference to these elements of the Strategic Action Plan.  Specific individuals will be designated as lead coordinators.  Measurable outcome statements will be developed for each strategic imperative with regular written reporting of progress toward those outcomes.  Ultimately, the program will be structured to serve 36-48 students with a possibility of incremental expansion, resources permitting.

In the Fall of 2017, the initial phase of APAC was launched serving 6 students in a house provided by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ on the east side of the Ancilla College campus. An 7th student is a part of the program but chose to live in a campus residence hall and one local student commutes daily. The program was launched at a ceremony keynoted by the Lieutenant Governor of Indiana and other dignitaries.