LQP Special Report


Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: A Sound Approach to Business and Finance

Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: A Sound Approach to Business and Finance

By James Hyatt, Interim Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, and Chief Financial Officer
November 19, 2013
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As we continue our Special Report on the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan, James Hyatt discusses the approach the UA will take in business and financial planning in an era of declining state support and increasing fiscal need.


Photo of James Hyatt

By James Hyatt
Interim Senior Vice President, Business Affairs,
and Chief Financial Officer
November 18, 2013

The fiscal pressures on higher education that began before and continued during the Great Recession will impact public universities for some time to come. In order to achieve the ambitious goals outlined in the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan, the UA will need a sound business and finance approach.

During the period of FY 2002 to FY 2012, there were major changes in the ways in which the UA was funded:

  • Funding from state appropriations declined;
  • Funding from tuition and fees increased, in part to offset the reduction in state support;
  • Sponsored research funding increased; and
  • Gift funding gained importance as a major funding source.

To achieve the aggressive goals we’ve set forth in Never Settle, we’ve created a strategic business plan that is grounded in four key areas:

  • Growing both traditional and online enrollments that meet and exceed ABOR metrics.
  • Significantly increasing extramural research funding.
  • Growing private giving and launching the public phase of a capital campaign.
  • Seeking state investment in operating and capital support.

The UA's total enrollment has been increasing. At the peak of the recession in 2009, our total headcount was 38,767. Last year, it was 40,223. To meet 2020 enrollment goals set by the Arizona Board of Regents, we will increase our headcount by 9,000 students over the next six years. As discussed by my colleagues in previous editions of this special report, we will strive to achieve this goal through differentiated academic programming, research expansion and growth in alternative pathways to a degree, particularly in the online and community college transfer arenas. With the projected increase in online enrollments, total enrollment at the University is projected to increase to 54,543 students by fall 2020.

In the area of faculty research productivity, the UA ranks high. Compared with our peers nationally, the UA ranks No. 7. To achieve the research productivity goals set forth in the Never Settle plan, the UA will need to double research expenditures by 2023. As noted in an earlier report by Dr. Jennifer Barton, our FY 2013 research expenditures were $632 million. Growth is predicted to occur in seven focused areas of interdisciplinary research that have the potential to double our research expenditures. Those areas, as Dr. Barton noted, are population health/health outcomes, health care disparities, precision medicine, neuroscience, defense and security, space systems, and water and the arid environment.

Efforts around private support will accelerate with a goal of raising annual gifts over a four- to five-year period. This funding will be allocated to support students, faculty and campus-wide programs. As part of this effort, the University is preparing for a major capital campaign to be launched in the spring of 2014.

We also seek to enhance our research infrastructure. Through a $1 billion bond package the Arizona Board of Regents will ask the state Legislature to authorize, the UA would receive $450 million for the construction of new research facilities and the renovation of existing buildings. If approved, the work would begin in 2016.

To learn more about the UA's efforts toward A Sound Approach to Business and Finance, please plan to join President Hart, other senior leaders and me this Friday, Nov. 22, when we present the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan to the Arizona Board of Regents. Details about the presentation can be found in this recent campus memo.

Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: Expanding Our Research Enterprise

Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: Expanding Our Research Enterprise

By Jennifer Barton, Interim Vice President for Research
November 18, 2013
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As we continue our Special Report series on the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan, Dr. Barton shares the strategy for expanding our research enterprise to create an environment that will attract even more top research talent and funding.


Jennifer Barton

By Jennifer Barton
Interim Vice President for Research
November 15, 2013


Why do we conduct research? It's a question we must ask ourselves as the state’s top research institution, and as part of our mission as Arizona's only land-grant university.

We conduct research to push the frontiers of knowledge, to improve humanity's well-being, to train the next generation, and to further Arizona's economic development. A strong and growing UA research enterprise that fulfills this fourfold mission is crucial to maintaining our standing in the top ranks of universities nationally, and to helping Arizona survive and thrive in the global economy.

As many of you have felt firsthand, research programs are under stress from the flagging economy and the federal sequester, leading to budget cuts in existing research programs and difficulty obtaining new awards. Additionally, years of state budget cuts have eroded our research infrastructure, while at the same time we are faced with competition from peer institutions in states that have invested strongly in research. It will be a significant challenge to meet the ABOR goal of doubling research expenditures.

Despite the challenges, the UA holds a position of strength. Our research expenditures in FY13 continued to grow, to $632 million, due to the outstanding and broad-based strength of our faculty, programs and facilities. We have some of the most innovative faculty and programs in the world, including 49 National Academy and Institute of Medicine members, three MacArthur Fellows, and 11 top-10 ranked graduate programs. We have facilities that exist nowhere else in the world, including the Landscape Evolution Observatory, the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory and the High Temperature Materials Laboratory.

To move our research enterprise forward, we must create an environment that encourages and facilitates the efforts of faculty and investigators to be successful in research, with a particular emphasis on leveraging our broad-based strengths into the team proposals that are increasingly favored by funding agencies. We are developing enhanced central research development resources, including people and tools to facilitate large or complex team-based proposal preparation, access to services for finding grants and collaborators, and a new website that will consolidate "idea-to-closure" information for research grants and contracts. These resources will become available over the next year.

Additionally, we are developing a list of focused initiatives in areas where we have existing or emerging strengths, and where there exists an opportunity to dramatically increase research expenditures. These areas are interdisciplinary; each involves many colleges and units across the campus, and they are aligned with our broader strategic research areas. Initiatives with potential to double research expenditures include: population health/health outcomes, health care disparities, precision medicine, neuroscience, defense and security, space systems, and water and the arid environment.

By emphasizing our celebrated strengths, and focusing our efforts, we believe we can expand and enhance the success of our world-class research enterprise, and position it to positively impact Arizona's economy and the lives of Arizonans.

To learn more about the UA's efforts toward "Expanding Our Research Enterprise," plan to join President Hart, other senior leaders and me on Nov. 22 when we present the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan to the Arizona Board of Regents. Details about the presentation can be found in this recent campus memo.

Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: Driving to Cutting-Edge Academic Programs

Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: Driving to Cutting-Edge Academic Programs

By Andrew Comrie, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost
November 15, 2013
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As we continue our Special Report on the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan, Provost Comrie discusses how we are changing our academic structures to help us effectively prepare our students and lead in the changing world of scholarship.


Andrew Comrie

By Andrew Comrie
​Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost
November 14, 2013


The UA recently was recognized by the Global Employability Survey as one of the top universities in the world for producing employable graduates. It's a prestigious distinction, and one the UA will strive to maintain as we educate students and prepare them for life in the global economy.

In yesterday's Special Report, Dr. Melissa Vito discussed emerging efforts to evolve our recruitment and retention activities to ensure we're meeting the needs of changing student demographics by providing multiple pathways to college degree attainment.

Today we look at what we need to do organizationally to meet these and the other goals we have set for ourselves with our Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan.

Our continued excellence in graduate education and as a research university relies on cutting-edge scholarship by our faculty. We have ambitious goals to grow our overall enrollment to 54,000 (including online learners) while raising our national profile. Our Never Settle plan lays out a number of valuable strategic actions that are enabling us to adjust and expand our academic programs to deliver on our goal of academic excellence through the "Engaging" pillar of the plan.

We have undertaken considerable steps in recent years to redesign and consolidate academic units into exciting new configurations. This change continues, and increasingly we are moving to the broader "school" model rather than limiting ourselves to narrower disciplinary and departmental structures. Academic units are beginning to view themselves as integrated and interdisciplinary teams of teaching and research specialists, allowing us to expand select areas of study that are ripe for growth.

We've already put this strategy into practice. Consider the School of Mind, Brain and Behavior – a synergistic partnership between the Neuroscience; Psychology; Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences; and Cognitive Science programs – which started a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. In just three years, the number of students with this major has grown to 394. Forty percent of those students say they came to the UA specifically for this program. Also of note are the exciting and newsworthy developments in the School of Middle Eastern & North African Studies, which has won prestigious Flagship status and funding for its Arabic language program from the U.S. Department of Defense.

We know that research and teaching are a powerful combination for the student experience, as evidenced by the programs I've just discussed. This duo has fostered many creative interdisciplinary endeavors that have led to new pathways for learning and significant educational accomplishment. It's not going unnoticed – U.S. News & World Report recently recognized 14 UA programs among the top graduate programs in the nation.

We must continue to build upon this type of success and increase interdisciplinary opportunities that will set us apart from our peers and attract the top students and faculty who are looking for creative structures and programs to solve complex problems.

And speaking of faculty, there is incredible opportunity for us to build upon an already outstanding force for innovation and creativity. Part of our academic success story will rely on how we shape the faculty and our related institutional structures. We must grow the faculty so we can reach our teaching and research goals.

We also need to increase and capitalize on our diversity at all levels, with accountability. We have made national news with reforms to our promotion and tenure guidelines and we will continue to innovate in this area; it's imperative that our post-tenure review system be as effective as possible.

To learn more about the UA's efforts toward "Driving to Cutting-Edge Academic Programs," plan to join President Hart, other senior leaders and me on Nov. 22 when we present the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan to the Arizona Board of Regents. Details about the presentation can be found in this recent campus memo.

Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: Recruit to Retain to Graduate

Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan: Recruit to Retain to Graduate

By Melissa Vito, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment and Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success
November 13, 2013

Through a series of four special reports, we will provide you with a "sneak peek" of President Ann Weaver Hart's Nov. 22 presentation of the Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan to the Arizona Board of Regents. In this report, Dr. Vito discusses emerging efforts to evolve our recruitment and retention activities to ensure we’re meeting the needs of changing student demographics by providing multiple pathways to college degree attainment.

 

By Melissa Vito
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment
Vice Provost, Academic Initiatives and Student Success
November 13, 2013


We need to graduate more college students.

While workforce trends indicate the need for a more college-educated population, we know that geographic, monetary and cultural barriers keep many qualified students from finding their way to, or through, the doors of higher education. Today, only 52 percent of Arizona's high school graduates pursue any form of higher education after graduating, and only 17 percent have a bachelor's degree six years after graduating high school.

To help us meet the goals of producing a more educated population, we will expand our current focus of enrolling outstanding undergraduate and graduate students from around the globe while targeting our efforts in two areas: Arizona community college transfers and online degrees.

Transfer growth will require strong partnership and creative programming with our community college colleagues across Arizona. To foster this synergy, we have established a Transfer Enrollment Team and integrated the Transfer Student Center within that team. This team, in partnership with UA South, will lead an effort to complete UA Bridge agreements with every community college in the state, with a special focus on the highest opportunity programs – those programs that will attract the most students, transfer easily, and provide the types of education most needed in the state.

Growing our online presence will also be key to our success, especially for non-traditional students who will need creative alternatives to achieve their degrees. Our goal is to have 7,500 students enrolled in online programs by 2020. In the past, the UA approach to online program education has been single courses or smaller graduate programs driven by faculty interest in online teaching, resulting in just over 300 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students enrolled in online programs in 2013. To maximize the impact of online education on our enrollment, retention and graduation, we must be strategic in building future online program and degree offerings. Among the activities we'll pursue to expand our online presence will be to:

  • Capitalize on signature programs that have the highest opportunity and interest.
  • Leverage online learning as a way for students to complete unfinished degrees and shorten overall time to degree.
  • Explicitly integrate online learning into overall enrollment goals.
  • Expand online offerings supporting increased transfer enrollment.

The "Real World in Real Time" is what 100% Engagement is all about. The UA goal for this initiative is to graduate future leaders who have the skills to apply their knowledge and solve the world's grand challenges. We will provide a learning experience tailored to individual students' needs and with the experience to integrate and apply knowledge through real-world experiential learning. We know that a successful college experience for both parents and students is marked by the ability to get a good job upon graduation and it is through real-world experiences that students will be able to translate formal academic experiences into applied settings. This opportunity will be available to all undergraduate students in the forms of internships, service learning and study abroad, to name a few. It is equally important that our online students have the same high quality engaged learning opportunities as well. Eventually the engagement experience will be a graduation requirement and all employers and graduate schools will know that UA graduates are real-world ready. In the meantime, all students will have a notation on their transcript that notes their completion of 100% Engagement.

To learn more about the UA's efforts to "Recruit to Retain to Graduate," plan to join President Hart, other senior leaders and me on Nov. 22 when we present the Never Settle Strategic Academic and Business Plan to the Arizona Board of Regents. Details about the presentation can be found in this recent campus memo.

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