'Transformation Plan' Detailed in Town Hall

'Transformation Plan' Detailed in Town Hall

By La Monica Everett-HaynesUniversity Communications
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UA President Robert N. Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay listen to a question during last week's town hall on the University's "Transformation Plan."
UA President Robert N. Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay listen to a question during last week's town hall on the University's "Transformation Plan."
The town hall drew a room full of deans, department heads and other University employees from across campus.
The town hall drew a room full of deans, department heads and other University employees from across campus.

Top administrators have asked deans and department heads to begin forming study groups to evaluate staffing and programming shifts in order to suggest changes for The University of Arizona’s reorganization plan.

UA President Robert N. Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay held a town hall last week to discuss what is being called the “Transformation Plan,” which calls for an 18-month positioning process that should bring long-term benefits.

The need for the plan is twofold: the UA must work to maintain its status as a high ranking and “world class” institution while also becoming more efficient, both in relation to business practices and financially, Shelton and Hay said.

“The old way will not suffice,” said Hay, adding that the UA will take a broad look at its programs, services and business practices.“Everything is on the table.”

That includes looking at how tuition dollars are spent, how class credit units are distributed, which programs will remain on campus and the organizational structure of colleges and departments.

“We are one of the best universities in the country, bar none. If we are going to be one of the world’s best universities we’re going to have to be bold,” she said, later adding those at the University cannot “sit on our laurels.”

Explaining the need for the Transformation Plan, Shelton and Hay pointed to the volatile nature of higher education funding, already evident examples of accelerated population growth in the state of Arizona and the need to protect the UA’s high regard in both national and global arenas. Shelton noted that the UA has its “champions” in government, including some legislators and Gov. Janet Napolitano, but “the reality is that the state of Arizona is in tough times.”

The road ahead will be difficult, but it is necessary, said Shelton, who has repeatedly said he would like the UA to reach top 10 status and grow its endowment fund, among other things.

“We have to make some tough decision on how we deliver our mission and how you and your staff spend your time,” Shelton told the full room of University employees Wednesday morning. “This process will not drag on for years and years. We do not have that luxury.”

Deans and department heads were asked to begin working with their students, faculty and staff, forming groups – even across colleges – to figure out where the strengths and weaknesses are across campus.

The administration also provided a timeline:

  • Shelton initiated the Proposal Development Phase with his Sept. 3 memo. At that time, working groups had already been created to begin evaluating a plan and Hay asked a number of groups to develop initial proposals for department and program mergers.
  • A department heads retreat was to scheduled for today to discuss ways programs and departments can become stronger through consolidation and collaboration, benefits of centralizing information and pooling of campus resources, among other things. Hay also will hold a discussion to allow attendees to talk about concerns and solutions.
  • The Deliberations Upon White Paper Proposals will be held in October. The Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee and leadership groups formed across campus will begin developing proposals. The Transformation Coordinating Committee, which Hay formed, will provide feedback on the effects of change in five areas: on students, faculty, staff, business practices and external relations.
  • During the month of November, formal proposals from the various groups must be submitted to Hay and should cover issues related to needs, suggested changes, expected outcomes, financial savings that are expected as a result of changes and details about how consolidating units will strengthen the University’s focus on teaching, service, scholarship, research and creative endeavors. The proposals will need to take into consideration the “strategic needs and priorities of the University.”
  • The proposals will be forwarded to the Faculty Senate by Dec. 15.

Shelton reaffirmed the necessity of the Transformation Plan.

“It’s bold, audacious and it’s out there,” Shelton said. “I know some of you have said, ‘I’ve seen this before.’ I guarantee that you have not seen this before.”

Hay added: “The end result is how we at the U of A can come out stronger and better than ever before."

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