ABOR to Consider UA's Comprehensive Campus Plan and Strategic Plan

ABOR to Consider UA's Comprehensive Campus Plan and Strategic Plan

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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The Arizona Board of Regents will be asked to approve the University of Arizona's Comprehensive Campus Plan and five-year strategic plan during its two-day meeting on the UA campus, which begins Thursday.

The UA's strategic plan outlines the University's institutional goals; the campus plan provides guidelines for the physical development of campus.

Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and ABOR itself also will present their strategic plans for approval. All three state universities have been asked to adapt their plans to incorporate goals of the Arizona University System's "2020 Vision" long-term strategic plan approved in March. That plan calls, in part, for a 20 percent increase in enrollment and a 28 percent increase in the number of bachelor's degrees awarded by the three state universities by the year 2020.

The UA's 2011-2015 strategic plan names three priority areas for the University – academic excellence, access and success, and quality of life and societal impact – and identifies the following as strategic directions:

Expanding Access and Enhancing Educational Excellence
The plan, drafted by the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee, states that the UA will work to expand enrollment and financial aid opportunities, to strengthen Arizona schools by preparing more teachers, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math fields, and to increase access to UA education through the Outreach College for those who don't have access to the main campus, among other things.

Increasing Achievements in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Expression
The plan says the University will work to strengthen research and outreach in nine areas critical to Arizona's future:

  • Climate, environmental, water, and energy sustainability
  • Southwest, Native American, borderlands, and Latin American studies
  • Biosciences and biotechnology
  • Optics
  • Space exploration and observation
  • Creative arts, languages and language acquisition
  • Law, public policy and entrepreneurship
  • Biomedical and behavioral health
  • Youth development programs

Expanding Community Engagement and Workforce Impact
The plan notes the UA's leadership in the development of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus to expand the facility's clinical services.

Improving Productivity and Increasing Efficiency
The plan says the University will continue to work collaboratively to improve its operations and productivity in line with the ongoing campuswide Transformation Plan.

While the strategic plan lays out strategies for advancement, it also contains the following caveat, related to economic challenges facing the state university system:

"Progress on the initiatives outlined in this plan will depend in part on the ability of the state to provide adequate resources for student growth while maintaining program quality and breadth. In developing our plans, future tuition rates for resident undergraduates are expected to increase in accordance with ABOR policy. Also, as provided by board policy, the University may pursue differential tuition and/or special program fees." 

The complete text of the strategic plan can be read online.

In addition to approving the three universities' strategic plans, the regents will be asked to approve the UA's Comprehensive Campus Plan for physical development, originally drafted in 2003. ABOR requires the document be updated about every five years and the UA began the process in 2008, working with the consultant Ayers Saint Gross and holding workshops for campus and Tucson community members to help determine priorities for the University's physical development.

The plan, which takes into account both the goals of the UA's strategic plan and the vision of the Transformation Plan, also references the state's financial woes:

"A constrained state fiscal environment has restricted the University's capital improvement planning program. This has limited the University's ability to implement many of the goals, objectives, plans and projects outlined in the campus plan. This environment has encouraged more creative approaches to realizing projects, including a rise in public-private development partnerships," it states.

The campus plan identifies three key themes:

Sustainability
The plan recommends the UA draft and adopt campus sustainability policies to support sustainability goals, suggests all existing campus buildings be evaluated for reuse potential before demolition and advises the continued "greening" of campus utilities and infrastructure.

Campus and Community
The plan recommends landscaping improvements at the perimeter of campus and encourages active community engagement in planning and design processes for projects along that boundary.

Opportunities for Collaboration
The plan suggests the UA take advantage of Tucson's Modern Streetcar route, which, when operational, will connect the UA to downtown. It states: "There is strong support for the University of Arizona to have a meaningful and demonstrable presence in downtown Tucson. To pursue opportunities for collaboration and engagement, the University should identify programs appropriate to a downtown location which could benefit from downtown resources, as well as new opportunities downtown or along the Modern Streetcar line which might spur new University programs and uses."

The plan also addresses commonly talked-about campus development issues, such as housing and parking.

As housing demand continues to exceed the number of beds on campus, the plan advises, in part, replacing one- and two-story residence halls, adding housing to the north campus and developing mixed-use housing projects at the edges of campus in partnership with the private sector. 

When it comes to parking, the plan suggests it may be more economical and sustainable to focus on reducing parking demand rather than adding spaces.

The full Comprehensive Campus Plan can be read online.

The complete agenda for the ABOR meeting is also available online.

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