Poughkeepsie Journal op-ed

Marist in the Hudson Valley: The Next Five Years

A New Year and the View Ahead: Marist in the Hudson Valley

Marist in the Hudson Valley 2018-2023


Marist College is at an exciting point in its history. The first students have begun their studies in our new Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, and this spring our Physician Assistant Program will graduate its first class. Our student body is stronger academically and more diverse than ever, and the College is poised for continued growth in our academic programs and degree offerings. Like any organization, we need to periodically look inward to define and redefine who we are and how we fit into our home in the Hudson Valley and around the world.  In this spirit, we recently developed a new five-year strategic plan to guide our way forward.

The new plan focuses on three key areas: student success, innovation, and advancing the social good. While this plan is very much about the College, its students, faculty, and staff, it is also a guiding light for how Marist fits into the community. Our location is central to who we are; Marist students interact with the community through internships and volunteer work, our employees live here, and we play a vital role in the intellectual and economic life of the Hudson Valley.

I believe that student success is measured by more than grades or salary in a first job. At Marist, we help our students fully develop their intellect, character, and skills. The College also has a firm belief in the power of experiential education: extending learning beyond the classroom is key to intellectual development and critical thinking. Working with organizations in Poughkeepsie and the greater Hudson Valley gives our students real world experiences that prepare them for successful careers. Marist also emphasizes the importance of international study, with more than half of our students taking part in a study abroad experience. Through our campus in Florence, Italy, and the scores of study abroad programs we offer, students leave Poughkeepsie with a more expansive view of the world and their place in it.

Marist has long enjoyed a reputation as an innovative college. We were working with IBM before such partnerships were common, and we’ve never stopped innovating. In the last year, we launched our first doctoral program, a minor in cybersecurity, and opened a Center for Social Media. Moving ahead, we’re developing a Center for Innovation to facilitate experimentation, problem-solving, and collaboration. We’ve just recently launched an exciting new program to offer a Master’s Degree in accounting with four years plus one summer of study, setting graduates on a direct path to earning their CPA credentials.

Social good has always been at the heart of Marist’s mission. To further increase diversity among our student body we’ve joined a national group spearheaded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the American Talent Initiative (ATI). ATI is comprised of a dedicated group of colleges working collaboratively to expand access and opportunity to high achieving low-income students. We are committed to attracting those students to Marist.

Imprinted into the College’s institutional DNA by the Marist Brothers is a historic commitment to service and ethics to foster meaningful community engagement. Our Tarver Interns spend each summer working with local non-profits, our students and faculty partner with local public schools and other organizations, and our employees serve on numerous local boards. We believe that by engaging directly with our local community, particularly to help the less fortunate, we can help foster peace, justice, and prosperity. Another aspect of the plan is a commitment to environmental sustainability in both our operations and academic programs. That’s why we are thrilled to expand our community presence via the beloved local institution, Sprout Creek Farm, which recently transferred control of its operations to the College. Marist is pleased to bring its resources to bear in keeping this organization working as a farm, an educational resource, a camp, and a place for intellectual inquiry. We look forward to developing new connections between the Farm and Marist’s academic programs.

Our new strategic plan seeks to enhance our commitment to the community in key ways at various levels—regionally, nationally, and internationally. We’ll be increasing opportunities for student volunteer activities in the Hudson Valley and engaging more broadly on issues of social responsibility in order to develop Marist graduates who are truly citizens of the world.

I’m excited about the next five years, and I look forward to embarking on the College’s next phase with our Hudson Valley neighbors.


David Yellen is President of Marist College