U of U Strategic Plan
Commitment to Excellence:
Framework for academic planning at the University of Utah
- Provide an affordable, quality education
- Conduct cutting-edge research and creative scholarship
- Serve the local, state, and wider communities
The University of Utah is dedicated to excellence in accordance with our shared core values:
- Emphasis on Learning
- Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Works
- Diversity and Inclusiveness
- Entrepreneurial Spirit
- Independent Inquiry
- Importance of our Communities
- Respect for Resources
- Support the growth of prioritized interdisciplinary teaching and research programs, as defined by faculty and student interests, through targeted funding and special incentives.
- Invest discretionary resources (1) to further programs with demonstrated strength and long-term viability and (2) to enhance areas with the greatest potential to dramatically benefit our students and our various communities.
- Increase the quality of the student body by progressively increasing admission standards and encouraging prospective students to meet these standards. Hold the size of the entering freshman class to approximately 3,000 annually while increasing the size of the student body at the upper-division and graduate level in concert with the state’s ability to fund the additional students.
- Ensure that every University of Utah graduate has received an “enhanced education” during which the student’s classroom instruction is enriched by a structured, in-depth engagement experience with a faculty member.
- Ensure that students, whether they enter as first-time or transfer undergraduates or in a graduate program, earn their degrees expeditiously, so as to optimize the use of their time and money as well as that of others who help pay for higher education.
- Translate the University’s recognition of diversity as a core value into effective strategies (1) for the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body, staff, faculty, and administration and their inclusion in the university community, and (2) for the integration of the value of diversity into the academic content of its programs.
- Recognize that the University’s future is tied to the future success of the state and expand our impact by partnering with state and local entities to foster economic growth, prosperity and improvement of life for our citizens.
- Maintain national recognition for service learning education while continuing to provide relevant continuing education programs to our local communities. Continue to nurture and promote community-based research and scholarship.
- Provide access to (1) reliable, secure, high capacity networks, (2) increasingly powerful computers, data storage centers, and library information resources, and (3) skilled technical support staff so that our faculty, students, and staff can use electronic media to achieve their teaching/learning, research, and community service goals.
- Recognize the importance of the learning and work environment by aggressively seeking funding from state, private, federal, and internal sources to upgrade our most important older buildings and classrooms while also moving forward with critical new construction demanded by growing student populations and research opportunities.
- Improve the structure, climate, and procedures for assessment across the campus so that assessment is more coherent, more heavily focused on outcomes, and more explicitly embedded in feedback loops and decision-making processes.
- Protect and build the University’s financial strength by integrating long-term financial considerations into all strategic and major tactical decisions in an effort to achieve year-over-year financial stability, good standing in the financial markets, and adequate reserves to address unforeseen problems, short-term economic downturns, and new opportunities.
The University of Utah is a community of students, staff, and scholars, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through innovative research; the education of future citizens, professionals, and leaders; and scholarly and creative pursuits that preserve and enlarge our understanding of the human condition. This is accomplished in an open environment that invites active participation from and interaction among all voices in a tradition of civilized discourse. In support of this, the University of Utah has embarked on a strategic planning effort to define our aspirations and guide our efforts to elevate the University to greater national and international prominence.
The University of Utah is a complex institution that serves the people of Utah in numerous ways while also conducting fundamental research and scholarship of international importance. As a premier research university, the University is committed to building world-class research programs and attracting and retaining the best faculty from across the nation and throughout the world. A strong graduate program across the many disciplines represented at the University is an essential ingredient of our research mission. We are equally committed to delivering outstanding undergraduate and professional education that prepares our students for leadership roles in Utah and beyond. Finally, our partnership with the state is reflected in a deep commitment to provide education for Utah citizens and service in our local and regional communities.
Over the past months, representatives of the University community have identified several institution-wide issues that provide the opportunity to make strategic choices that will shape the University in the future. These issues are:
- Student Engagement
- Interdisciplinary Research, Education, and Service
- Areas of Investment in Research and Teaching
- Balancing Growth, Quality, and Accessibility
- Community Involvement and Research
- Information Technology
- Physical Infrastructure
- Self Assessment
- Financial Strength
Some of these issues are most appropriately dealt with at a central level, while others can be best addressed at college and department levels. The decisions made now regarding these issues will have long-term impact on the future of the University.
Academic planning is not a process of wishful thinking that produces an unrealistic list of actions, activities, and initiatives. It must be based on an assessment of our current environment and a realistic analysis of future trends that will impact the needs of student and faculty as well as the University’s ability to maintain current programs and fund new activities. Three key issues impacting planning include projections for state (and other) funding, anticipated demand for enrollment, and support for research.
It is projected that the state’s economy will grow slowly over the short term (2-3 years); therefore, there will be little new state money for higher education. Our highest priorities for future state funding are faculty/staff salaries, unfunded enrollment growth, and ever-increasing fuel/power expenses. Significant new resources for academic programs are not expected before 2006. If and when it arrives, additional growth funding from the state will be directed at priorities as defined by the academic plan.
In spite of relatively large tuition increases during the past three years, the University remains approximately $1,000 below national average tuition levels. In subsequent years, overall tuition increases will be required to keep faculty/staff salaries in line with national averages. Over the next five years, discussion on alternatives for new program funding will include:
- Differential tuition charges (undergraduate) for high-demand/high-pay majors.
- Private fund-raising as part of a new University campaign.
- Internal reallocation to focus resources on high potential projects.
- Limited general tuition increases targeted to support specific initiatives.
Student demand for undergraduate admissions are likely to remain flat or decline slightly over the next five years, based on the number of Utah high school graduates. Beyond 2010 major increases in demand are likely, again based on the number of high school graduates. Ethnic minorities comprise virtually all of the growth in those numbers, however, which adds an element of uncertainty to the eventual impact on higher education enrollments. Current projections indicate that by 2014 the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) will need to accommodate 30,000 more students. While those projections are central to the Regents’ planning for the USHE, the increased participation rates that underlie the projections may be over optimistic. For the next few years at least the University will continue to limit both new and transfer admissions based on academic qualifications. Beyond that, the University will have to make important decisions about the size and makeup of the undergraduate student body and the long-term role and scope of (off-campus) modes of course delivery.
Nationally, student demand for graduate admissions will likely increase from domestic sources. The total number of students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in the United States is expected to increase, and a graduate degree is increasingly being seen as important to success in the job market. Within the USHE, the gradual growth in the number of undergraduates means that the University must either increase enrollment at the graduate level or gradually surrender its current, preeminent role in graduate education. A big unknown factor is student demand from other countries, given our nation’s approach to the terrorist threat, the increasing stature of universities in Asia, and increased competition from Europe and elsewhere for the best and brightest students.
Support for Research
The federal government’s commitment to research should continue to be strong, although with a slower rate of growth in funding than in recent years. Long-term federal budget deficits could threaten federal support for research. The University has been relatively successful in garnering research funding from the private sector. We expect this success to continue while recognizing that the health of the economy will be a factor. Interdisciplinary projects are likely to attract an increasing share of future research funding.
A Vision of the Future
This document reflects the University of Utah’s aspiration of raising the quality of its academic programs while developing national leadership in many research and educational programs. Correct decisions now will produce a University of Utah in 2015 that has achieved the following specific goals:
- Is an AAU member with nationally recognized graduate and professional programs that embody a strong interdisciplinary component
- Is composed of 1,500 full-time, diverse and academically outstanding regular faculty committed to excellence in their individual and collective endeavors and compensated at competitive levels, and an equal number of committed individuals who focus primarily on one aspect of the broad scope of faculty responsibilities (either teaching, research, or clinical activities).
- Has recruited a diverse, academically well-prepared undergraduate student body of 25,000 students primarily from Utah, and each year admits:
- 2,500 of the state’s most highly qualified high school graduates into vigorous undergraduate programs, along with a modest number of excellent students from other locales, totaling about 3,000 per year
- 4,500 well-prepared transfer students who benefit from a well-articulated, seamless process of integrating diverse curricula.
- Enrolls 6,500 well-supported graduate students in nationally ranked professional programs or in master’s and doctoral programs that enhance our local economy, positively impact important societal problems, and enrich the artistic and cultural climate in Utah.
- Offers a strategic selection of engaging fields of study focused in areas of strong student interest and coordinated with the educational needs of the state.
- Has an annual research budget in excess of $500 million per year supported by federal agencies and private sources across a wide variety of disciplines.
- Continues to be nationally recognized as a university where service learning, community outreach, and community-based research are major institutional strengths and valued parts of the mission.
- Provides a major economic stimulus to the state economy through overall annual spending in excess of $2.5 billion and introduces new technology through at least thirty patents and, where appropriate, technology licenses, and three new business start-ups each year.
Schedule for Overall Strategic Plan Development
This plan summarizes the results of campus-wide planning process at the University level. Summaries of individual college plans, developed in part in response to the campus-wide plan, are attached. At the present time, the University-level plan does not address the full range of issues that are related to the provision of health care services in our hospitals and clinics.
During the summer and fall of 2003, an interdisciplinary committee composed of faculty, staff, students and administrators drafted the main campus plan, which was then widely distributed for review and comment. During the Spring Semester 2004, departments and colleges engaged in discussion directed at developing/updating their own individual plans. Formal planning documents were prepared by each college on the main campus as well as those in the health sciences and submitted during the fall semester of the 2004-05 Academic year. This combined document was subsequently assembled and given to the new president as the basis for his ongoing work with faculty, staff, and students to further elaborate University plans and strategies for the coming years.
Mission and Values
At the University of Utah, we are dedicated to preparing future citizens, professionals, and leaders by involving them in innovative curricular activities, the generation of new knowledge and technologies through exciting research, and scholarly and creative pursuits that preserve and enlarge our understanding of human thought and the human condition. To accomplish these goals, the University provides an open environment that seeks active participation and interaction from a student, faculty, and staff population whose diversity broadly reflects that of our state and nation. As an institution we are committed to extending our influence in the local, national, and international communities through service, outreach education, cultural and artistic endeavors, scientific prominence, and technology transfer.
In the development of this planning outline, significant effort has gone into revisiting the fundamental purposes of the University. The statement below highlights those elements of the University’s mission that are particularly salient at this point in our history, with the exception of certain elements of our health care services. The values that follow further characterize the institution that we strive to be.
The mission of the University of Utah is to create a learning environment that fosters discovery, refinement, and wide dissemination of knowledge. By integrating outstanding teaching, cutting-edge research, creative scholarship, and community involvement, the University investigates significant issues impacting and advancing the human condition, while preparing its students for important roles within a diverse and ever-changing society.
The University of Utah is committed to a diverse and inclusive environment where student citizens are provided the opportunity to develop the vision, perspective, skills, and integrity to become influential leaders and professionals. The University aims to achieve a nationally renowned scholarly and collegial environment for the generation of ideas, interdisciplinary research, and creative works that will contribute to the betterment of Utah and the world.
The University of Utah is dedicated to excellence, in accordance with our shared values:
Learning: The University values a welcoming and engaging learning environment that combines creative and innovative classroom instruction with opportunities for individual student/faculty experiences in research, writing, performance, and service.
Excellence in research, scholarship and creative works: The University values the results of the faculty’s scholarly activities and recognizes the importance of these pursuits to the individual, the institution and the state.
Diversity and inclusiveness: The University values the benefits that derive from interactions among individuals with different traditions, cultures, preferences, religious beliefs, economic backgrounds, and racial/ethnic origins to our students, the University community, and society as a whole.
Entrepreneurial spirit: The University values faculty innovation and the benefits that result from investments in creative people. Such benefits accrue not only to the University but also to the community through the generation of new concepts and technologies that strengthen Utah’s economic engine and improve the life of its people.
Independent inquiry: The University values independent inquiry and the innovation and discovery achieved through unrestricted questioning and examination.
Collegiality: The University values a learning atmosphere that encourages respect for differing viewpoints and fosters open communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
Community: The University values the involvement of faculty and students in activities within the campus community, in multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary endeavors and in our local and state communities.
Respect for resources: The University values the wise and efficient use of its resources. These resources include: the time of our students, faculty, and staff; information technologies; sources of financial support; facilities and equipment; energy; and our high-quality natural environment. Careful utilization of these resources will result in long-term financial strength as evidenced by year-over-year financial stability, good standing in the financial markets, and adequate reserves to address unforeseen problems and new opportunities.
The University recognizes that to ensure that these core values remain an integral part of the institutional fabric, it must regularly conduct a careful and thorough assessment of our campus environment, program effectiveness, and goal achievement.
Over the past months, the university community has been engaged in discussion to identify important strategic issues to be addressed in planning. Each of these issues, along with an overview and primary strategic objective, is presented below. This is followed by a preliminary set of goals and actions that should be considered by all units and, where appropriate, incorporated into strategic plans. The list of goals and actions is not meant to be all-inclusive, and continued discussion at all levels is welcomed and encouraged.
Interdisciplinary Research and Education
Many important academic advances are occurring near the boundaries of traditional disciplines. The University of Utah recognizes that strong multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and teaching activities are an essential component to building vital programs. There are some specific features of our environment that make pursuing interdisciplinary activities attractive:
- In a resource-constrained environment, successfully executed multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary programs allow the University to “play big” relative to available resources.
- The University is highly collegial in its campus culture, facilitating the development of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs.
- The University has unique competencies in biological, environmental, physical, social, and health sciences, humanities, and the arts that provide an excellent base for the development of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs.
- Utah’s physical isolation (relative to other major research universities) works to encourage internal collaboration across traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Support the growth of interdisciplinary teaching and research programs, as defined by faculty and student interests, through targeted funding and special incentives.
Goals and Actions:
- The University will create additional funding mechanisms and consider alternative management structures to support faculty efforts to continue or begin interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs of research and teaching.
- The University community will work together to define programmatic and entrepreneurial opportunities based on current faculty expertise and cutting across departmental and college boundaries.
- The University will include interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs that have demonstrated initial success as funding targets in the next University capital campaign. The University will highlight interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs in its marketing literature and in its efforts to recruit uniquely qualified students of great potential to the University of Utah.
- Departments and colleges will examine Retention, Promotion, and Tenure criteria to ensure that multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and teaching activities are rewarded in consideration of promotion and tenure.
- The administration, working with deans, will explore the feasibility of cluster hiring of faculty across disciplines with related interdisciplinary teaching and research interests.
- In areas of exemplary success and promise, the University will build centers and institutes organized on an interdisciplinary basis and support interdisciplinary research and educational programs that cut across college boundaries.
- Nurturing Promise and Promoting Success Through Targeted Investment in Areas of Distinction
Beyond the investment required to maintain the high standards expected across all academic disciplines, the University will direct its limited discretionary resources to areas that have demonstrated potential or that hold great promise to achieve distinction on a national and international level, as well as areas that are seen to have significant local and regional impact.
- National distinction in even a few areas benefits the overall reputation of the University and can positively impact all programs, but limited resources will prohibit us from achieving national distinction in all areas of research and education.
- In targeting areas for new and continued investment, the University acknowledges its limited resources, and will encourage and frame planning discussions in colleges and departments.
- As a vital research community, the University must not only reward past success but also identify and nurture areas where rising energy, commitment, and vision promise to provide high returns on investment.
- Targeted investments, whether in established or promising areas of distinction, begin with self-evaluation. Where do we have the talent, energy, and will to be especially strong? To succeed it will be necessary to design a faculty-centric process that will take us from self-evaluation to resource allocation decisions.
Invest precious discretionary resources (1) to further programs with demonstrated strength and long-term viability and (2) to enhance areas with the greatest potential to benefit our students and society.
Goals and Actions:
The University administration does not intend to a priori name particular scholarly or creative research areas and target them for favorable resource allocation. Rather, it is the faculty in the research and creative community who will define and build top programs.
Such a process will ensure a vibrant mix of research and creative activity that best reflects the talents and interest of our faculty and students.
As new resources become available, their distribution will be directed to build prominence and distinction in areas of local and international importance where individuals and groups demonstrate continuing energy, enthusiasm, productivity, and promise.
These may include critical areas of science and technology, leadership in the arts and cultural endeavors, excellence in undergraduate research or service learning, and professions and issues critical to the region.
- In order to remain responsive to changing academic, social, political, and economic realities locally and internationally, the University will consider making new investments in demonstrably promising new areas.
- In developing and revising their academic plans, departments and colleges should assess and take inventory of their strengths and, where appropriate, should work to build areas that will provide distinction among peers.
- The University will develop mechanisms for the fair distribution of resources to respond to individuals and groups demonstrating exceptional energy and potential for success.
Balancing Quality, Growth, and Accessibility
Student demand for undergraduate admissions should remain flat or decline slightly over the next five years. Beyond 2010 major increases in demand are expected. However, enrollment growth at the University need not be in proportion to growth in demand.
Growth in demand will provide opportunities for the University to gradually increase both the number of its undergraduates and their average level of preparedness. Off-campus instruction will also impact enrollment and accessibility. Off-campus instruction is currently provided at four off-campus instruction sites and through television and Internet delivery mechanisms.
- Increased demand will allow more selectivity in admission standards.
- Selectivity must be balanced with opportunities for a small number of undergraduates who are underprepared academically but who bring other desirable skills, capabilities, and characteristics to the University community.
- Total enrollment will be constrained by the state’s ability to fund growth.
- The University has a fundamental obligation to remain accessible to economically diverse segments of the state’s population.
- Off-site instruction is important to expand accessibility and ensure appropriate levels of political support across the state.
Increase the quality of the student body by progressively increasing admission standards. Hold the size of the entering class of first-time students to approximately 3,000 annually while increasing the size of the student body at the upper-division and graduate levels in concert with the state’s ability to fund additional students.
Goals and Actions:
The University of Utah must account for future demand and maintain accessibility while preserving quality within a resource-constrained environment. Tuition increases alone will not sustain the University in the long run, and large, sustained tuition increases will create unacceptable barriers to access. The University must also acknowledge that the educational policies for secondary schools are connected to its own educational objectives. To address these issues the University must accomplish the following:
- Develop an enrollment management system to meet quality and diversity objectives while maintaining access for all qualified Utah students.
- Continue recent efforts to increase the academic preparedness of first-time and transfer students.
- Gradually increase the size of the undergraduate student body, particularly at the upper-division level, if and only if the state can provide its portion of the funding.
- Look for opportunities to increase enrollment in selected areas that meet state and national needs.
- Maintain an avenue for a small number of underprepared but otherwise highly desirable undergraduates to be admitted each year.
- Be responsive to state needs and regent goals consistent with available resources.
- Nurture our relationships with our Utah feeder schools as the importance of transfer students continues to grow.
- Develop and maintain close, influential working relationships with the secondary school systems, both public and private, while creating a strong focus on overall student preparedness and on recruiting the best students.
- Develop and plan for the extended University of Utah campus (scope, locations, delivery modes, emphases, etc.).
- Make funding for scholarships a major part of the University’s next fundraising campaign to help offset the tuition increases that will be necessary until the state is once again able to support its share of the cost of education.
Engagement and personalization are essential components of a good education. As a premier research university, the University should offer an enhanced learning environment that distinguishes our learning experience from what is offered at the state’s teaching campuses. Students should be actively engaged in their own education as it occurs in the classroom, in research, in living-learning communities, and in student organizations.
- Students engaged in their education will be better prepared for professional and leadership roles in society because they understand not only the underlying theory but also the practical applications.
- Students engaged in their education are more likely to complete their programs, particularly at the graduate level.
- The close interactions with faculty resulting from personalization of education can lead to new opportunities for students and can broaden the perspective of faculty.
- An engaged student body is one that is more informed, understanding, and respectful of its social and natural environment.
- An engaged education within a large, research-oriented institution is one way the University can distinguish itself from other institutions.
Ensure that every University graduate receives, in addition to a quality classroom instruction, an enhanced education as evidenced by participation in at least one in-depth engagement experience with the faculty.
Goals and Actions:
Enhancing the personalization of education and the engagement of students is a responsibility of all faculty, staff, and administrators as well as the students themselves. Engagement activities can take many forms, including undergraduate research, service learning, involvement in an artistic performance or exhibition, athletics, or leadership in a student organization, among others.
- Departments, divisions, programs, and colleges as well as Undergraduate Studies and the Graduate School should develop and implement plans to ensure that each of their students is involved in at least one engagement experience within their home department prior to graduation.
- Departments must ensure that all students have access to timely and appropriate academic advising by qualified faculty or staff as they progress through their programs, including annual review of all graduate students.
- The University should seek to expand developmental advising that integrates students into the university experience, while also addressing issues concerning academic requirements.
- The University should continue to distinguish itself by providing and encouraging opportunities to participate in undergraduate research and service learning experiences.
- By graduation, each student should know at least three faculty or staff members well enough that he or she will be able to request and receive credible letters of reference for graduate school, a professional position, or other career-related goals.
- Graduate programs will structure an environment that is supportive and encourages all graduate students to be active in professional organizations and activities appropriate to their field of study.
For a variety of reasons, very few of our undergraduates are able to graduate from the University within the standard four years. These reasons include the necessity for many of our students to work long hours in order to pay for their education, the participation of a number of them in church missions, one or more changes in the their major, difficulties some of them experience in transferring credits from another institution or in being able to register for required courses in a timely manner, and the content requirements of some disciplines. While the University cannot address all of these issues, we are responsible for providing good advising, curricular offerings as needed, and removing unnecessary impediments where they exist. While much of the focus in the popular press is on the undergraduate experience, the University also needs to pay attention to graduate students. They too need to move through the institution in an efficient fashion.
Ensure that students, whether they enter as first-time or transfer undergraduates or in a graduate program, earn their degrees expeditiously, so as to optimize the use of their time and money as well as that of others who help pay for higher education.
Goals and Actions:
- Develop and implement plans to move toward the national norm of one full-time professional advisor per 300 students.
- Provide a continuous cycle of opportunities for professional development and training for advisors to ensure high quality advising.
- Develop and implement continuous evaluation and assessment of advising to ensure that we meet all students’ academic advising needs.
- Maintain up-to-date articulation guides (print and on-line) to ensure that prospective transfer students receive correct information.
- Analyze the curriculum for choke points or other impediments to orderly progression, and deliver these analyses to the appropriate bodies (particularly the Undergraduate and the Graduate Council).
- Develop the analytical tools (student flow models) that enable ongoing assessment of progress made, or not made, by various categories of students, and make sure that the results of these assessments are given to those individuals and offices that can take corrective action if needed.
The University of Utah recognizes that diversity and inclusiveness are important in fulfilling its missions of discovery and providing a relevant and quality education. A focus on diversity:
- Enriches the educational experience for all students and faculty by providing a variety of interactions and perspectives within a diverse environment.
- Builds understanding between diverse groups that promotes personal growth, strengthens communities and the workplace, and helps foster a healthy society.
- Enhances scholarship and creativity, which contributes to new perspectives essential to discovery.
Translate the University’s recognition of diversity as a core value into effective strategies (1) for the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body, staff, faculty, and administration and their inclusion in the University community, and (2) for the integration of diversity issues into the academic content of its programs.
Goals and Actions:
- The administration, working with chairs, deans, and Human Resources, will collaborate to ensure inclusive applicant pools for staff, faculty, and administrative hiring. Departments and colleges should develop diversity recruiting plans for faculty and students.
- All student-recruiting programs on campus should review recruiting materials for their sensitivity and their potential to encourage a diverse applicant pool.
- The Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs must ensure consistent and increased support to fund essential diversity-based programs at the University of Utah.
- The University will foster partnerships with the community and foster relationships with marginalized students in the Utah public school system.
- The Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs must continue to provide new funds so that the Associate Vice President for Diversity can help departments and colleges support the hiring of underrepresented minorities and women.
- The University should put mechanisms in place and assign responsibility to identify and seek external funds to support diversity activities.
- Diversity-focused programs such as the Summer Research Opportunities for Undergraduates and the Utah Opportunity Scholars must remain a priority. Renewed efforts are needed to increase involvement in other diversity-based programs such as the McNair’s Scholar Program.
- Programs such as Ethnic Studies and Gender Studies will be encouraged to develop as their faculty interests and academic mission evolve.
- The administration, departments, and colleges should encourage students to have meaningful experiences with students from different backgrounds and perspectives.
Community Involvement and Research
As the state’s flagship institution, the University of Utah recognizes its central relationship to the state of Utah and the fundamental responsibility of the University to state and local communities. The University’s location in the capital city, within the largest metropolitan area, ensures that the fates of the University and the state are inexorably intertwined. If the University is to prosper, it must help the state prosper and enhance the quality of life for all of its citizens.
- The University is currently recognized as one of the top 10 schools in the nation (U.S. News & World Report) for service learning education.
- Partnering with the community provides valuable educational and research opportunities for our students and prepares them for important roles in society through first-hand experience with important social issues.
- Partnering with the community, as exemplified by our Neighborhood Partners program, provides faculty valuable opportunities for community-based research and scholarship.
- Continuing education programs provide an engaging and necessary link between the citizens of the state and the University.
- Strong ties between the University and local communities improve the lives of our citizens through economic development via new start-up companies, a wide variety of cultural and arts offerings throughout the year, and the infusion of more than a quarter of a billion dollars annually into the local economy in the form of external research funding received by the University.
Maintain national recognition for service learning education while continuing to provide relevant continuing education programs to local communities and promoting community-based research and scholarship.
Goals and Actions:
- The University will proactively encourage and sustain relationships between departments and colleges and various state and local entities and organizations aimed at improving the lives of our citizens.
- Service learning programs should be maintained and expanded to insure their continued local and national success.
- Continuing education programs should be maintained. Such programs should be responsive to community needs and interests as they change over time and can benefit from the latest interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary academic trends that offer innovative and collaborative educational methods.
- The University should continue providing core support for the Neighborhood Partners program, and assist in its gradual expansion.
- The inventory of community service activities across campus should be regularly updated with a goal to maximize impact and encourage collaboration.
- As part of an inventory of community service activities, the University will put mechanisms in place to help identify and seek out external funding to support community-based scholarship and research.
- Where appropriate, faculty involved in community-based activities should translate these activities into viable scholarly/research agendas.
- RPT guidelines and processes should encourage and support faculty who excel in community-based research and/or service learning.
Recognize that the University’s future is tied to the state’s economic success and expand our impact by partnering with state and local entities to foster economic growth, prosperity and improvement of life for our citizens.
Goals and Actions:
- Continue efforts to build a strong and successful technology transfer program.
- Grow the various business-like components of the University as a source of financial resources that can be used to enhancing our research infrastructure.
- Focus reimbursed research overhead funds on growing the research enterprise.
- Work with the State and the private sector to find creative ways to build and channel their support for research and development activities at the University.
- Work collaboratively with Utah State University on garnering support for new research initiatives particularly suited to serving the economic interests of the State.
In the current University environment, information technology (IT) networks, systems, and services are core strategic functions. A large portion of University services in academic, research, business, and outreach are now delivered through IT. Never before have we experienced technologies that are evolving so rapidly, are so significantly altering our space-time constraints, and reshaping the way we communicate, learn, think, and conduct research.
- IT has become crucial to all aspects of the University’s operations. It is no longer acceptable for the campus network to operate with less than 24/7 reliability.
- IT improves our access to information, increases operational efficiency, and enables research collaboration and dissemination.
- IT can improve classroom learning and facilitate communication among students, faculty, administrators, and the public.
- There are University functions that cannot and should not be replaced by IT. These include, but are not limited to, face-to-face student-faculty interactions and many forms of research. However, in almost every case, electronic communications can enhance the abilities of faculty, staff, and students to conduct their day-to-day lives efficiently and effectively.
- IT has the potential to significantly change how the employees of the University work, creating options for flexible working arrangements and service-delivery opportunities that can significantly enhance how and when services are available to students.
- Students from backgrounds that did not provide access to IT are at a significant disadvantage when they enter the University of Utah.
Provide access to (1) reliable, secure, high-capacity networks, (2) increasingly powerful computers, data storage centers, and library information resources, and (3) skilled technical support staff so that our faculty, students, and staff can use electronic media to achieve their teaching/learning, research, and community service goals.
Goals and Actions
- Faculty, students, and staff will receive technology orientation and ongoing instruction to empower them to create new knowledge and to extend intellectual resources to a diverse constituency without regard to time or place.
- The University will provide efficient electronic means to conduct University business by providing customized, online services with the goal of saving time and University resources.
- Online learning tools, collaborative resources and electronic course content have become essential elements in the way that we teach courses at the University. The goal of Information Technology is to provide hardware and software infrastructure that supports teaching and learning using electronic tools throughout the spectrum of courses that ranges from regular classroom meetings to fully online.
- Before implementation, new information technology projects, resources, and services should be reviewed for their relevancy to student and faculty needs and their impact on the efficiency, access, and quality of the academic experience.
- The University will maintain a leadership position in information technology, especially in support of research and academics. The University will act responsibly in the adoption of new technology for its enterprise-wide systems by building on the experiences of our colleagues and peer institutions and by partnering with financially sound businesses with proven products. The University will also favor equipment, software and systems that support open standards and source code where possible and feasible.
- IT governance will reflect the culture of the University. Governance will be collegial, consensual, and based on the principle of central coordination and local control. Consensually determined standards and best practices focused on end-user ease of use will be advanced and supported.
The University of Utah is blessed with a spectacular setting at the edge of Salt Lake City and the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. Considerable care has been given to the creation of a campus with large, attractive pedestrian malls and carefully located buildings. We are also unusually fortunate, especially for an urban campus, to have a large strategic land reserve (campus golf course) in the middle of the campus and significant potential expansion space in our research park.
However, financial conditions within the state have prohibited the proper maintenance and modernization of many campus buildings and, unfortunately, this trend appears likely to continue. Deferred maintenance is now estimated to exceed $300 million for the entire campus. Many buildings present seismic risks, some severe, and nearly all older buildings are in need of major electrical and HVAC upgrades.
In order to provide the best possible learning and work environment, the University will aggressively seek funding from state, private, federal, and internal sources to upgrade our most important older buildings and classrooms while also moving forward with critical new construction demanded by growing student populations and research opportunities.
Goals and Actions
- Complete the renovation of all large, heavily used lecture halls and primary teaching rooms to provide modern digital-projection equipment, online connectivity, and multimedia options.
- Continue to renovate existing older buildings to provide safe, high technology-equipped teaching spaces and modern facilities for research and creative work.
- Assemble state, private, federal, and internal funding to build the new facilities critically needed to manage the growing graduate and undergraduate student bodies and to facilitate the bulging demands for research space.
- Address critical infrastructure needs in the areas of hot and chilled water delivery, spiraling energy costs, demand for water conservation, waste recycling and electrical transmission.
- Continue to expand on-campus student housing with special attention to the renovation of our married student housing complexes.
There are two reasons why the University needs to strengthen and deepen its assessment activities. The most important reason is that we owe it to ourselves to know whether we are living up to our own rhetoric, whether we are delivering on the promises we make to those we serve, most especially our students. As a university, we are first and foremost in the knowledge business. We ought to know ourselves, not just the world around us. The second reason is more pragmatic. Those who work with us, provide our funding, and depend on us, are increasingly inclined to hold us accountable, to ask that we demonstrate that we are delivering on our promises and meeting our objectives.
- We are not starting from step one. We have assessment processes of long standing in place, that can be improved upon with modest effort. We also have extensive databases in place and growing capabilities to perform cost-efficient student surveys. We have groups on campus that can serve as appropriate venues to consider and then act upon assessment results.
- We do need to focus more extensively on outcomes, and we need to broaden our assessment activities.
- We do need to do better at integrating our assessment activities, both with one another and with decision making across campus.
Improve the structure, climate, and procedures for assessment across the campus so that assessment is more extensive, more coherent, more heavily focused on outcomes, and more explicitly embedded in feedback loops and decision-making processes.
Goals and Actions:
We need to continue efforts to enhance assessment on several fronts. The timing is propitious with the coming together of new presidential leadership, a renewal of strategic planning, a renewed emphasis on performance indicators at the state level, and re-accreditation near at hand.
- Shift the focus of assessment to outcomes. Only a modest portion of current assessment activities can be said to be about outcomes.
- Close the feedback loops. Find appropriate venues for discussion ofBand action uponBassessment results.
- Refine the assessment processes already in place, particularly the program reviews conducted under the sponsorship of the Graduate School.
- Further refine the databases useful for assessment and increase access to those resources. Centrally developed databases can help make assessment more effective and efficient.
- Widen the participation of units and individuals involved in assessment. Ensure that all academic units are involved to some reasonable extent.
Strengthening the University’s Finances
The University has always operated within an environment of financial constraints, but the future looks particularly daunting. The list of threats to our financial well being is long, including but not limited to rising energy costs, pressures from other agencies for state support, the cost of keeping up with technological advances, and the ongoing struggle to recruit and retain high quality faculty in a highly competitive world. To thrive in this environment the University will need to be smart and diligent in handling its financial resources.
- The University must do a superior job in managing money itself. Investment and spending policies for the endowment and other financial assets must protect purchasing power over time while contributing a consistent and significant source of income for current operations.
- The funding for projects and new initiatives, be they capital construction, new academic programs, new student services, new software programs, and so on, must be subject to careful scrutiny from a long-run viability perspective.
- We need to be efficient in all that we do. We are already efficient overall when compared to like universities elsewhere. We need to maintain that good standing while finding additional ways to save.
Protect and build the University’s underlying financial structure by integrating long-term financial considerations into all strategic and major tactical decisions in an effort to achieve year-over-year financial stability, good standing in the financial markets, and adequate reserves to address unforeseen problems and economic downturns, as well as opportunities, as they arise.
Goals and Actions:
The University has three broad avenues along which to pursue the objective of enhancing its long-term financial viability. One is to manage financial assets in optimum ways. Optimization is a complex target, as we try to simultaneously maintain the purchasing power of those assets, grow those assets when the opportunity arises, and provide a consistent, adequate source of income for current operations as well as occasional support for capital construction projects. Another avenue is careful assessment and planning with respect to the finances of any new projects or initiatives. The third avenue is constant attention to efficiency in all that we do.
- Maintain quarterly surveillance of auxiliary units where financial risks are high because of the nature of their activities, such as athletics, theaters, museums, and student housing, and adjust long-term funding strategies accordingly.
- For major building projects, ensure that a fully approved financing plan is in place before proceeding beyond the programming phase, and ensure that a reliable source of funding for ongoing operations and maintenance costs is identified before the start of construction.
- For major information technology projects, ensure that purchase commitments are not made until funding is identified for implementation and ongoing maintenance.
- In the next capital campaign, put appropriate emphasis on increasing the University’s endowments.
- Raise the student building fee in order to strengthen the Auxiliary and Campus Facilities bond system.
- Continue to seek ways to optimize the return on our endowments. This includes working with state government and others to revise the Money Management Act which spells out state rules and regulations governing our investment activities.
- Periodically review investment allocations and investment spending policies.
- Continue to work with the Legislature, the Regents, and other USHE institutions to devise improved funding models for higher education.
- Conserve energy and water with savings equal to $1 million per year by fiscal 2007.
- Promote changes in procedures, culture, and technology to realize opportunities to reduce costs.
2005, Associate Vice President for Budget & Planning