'Transformation Plan' Detailed in Town Hall
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 Arizonaâ€™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 â€œTransformation Plan,â€ 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 â€œworld classâ€ institution while also becoming more efficient, both in relation to business practices and financially, Shelton and Hay said.
â€œThe old way will not suffice,â€ said Hay, adding that the UA will take a broad look at its programs, services and business practices.â€œEverything is on the table.â€
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.
â€œWe are one of the best universities in the country, bar none. If we are going to be one of the worldâ€™s best universities weâ€™re going to have to be bold,â€ she said, later adding those at the University cannot â€œsit on our laurels.â€
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 UAâ€™s high regard in both national and global arenas. Shelton noted that the UA has its â€œchampionsâ€ in government, including some legislators and Gov. Janet Napolitano, but â€œthe reality is that the state of Arizona is in tough times.â€
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.
â€œWe have to make some tough decision on how we deliver our mission and how you and your staff spend your time,â€ Shelton told the full room of University employees Wednesday morning. â€œThis process will not drag on for years and years. We do not have that luxury.â€
Deans and department heads were asked to begin working with their students, faculty and staff, forming groups â€“ even across colleges â€“ 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 Universityâ€™s focus on teaching, service, scholarship, research and creative endeavors. The proposals will need to take into consideration the â€œstrategic needs and priorities of the University.â€
- The proposals will be forwarded to the Faculty Senate by Dec. 15.
Shelton reaffirmed the necessity of the Transformation Plan.
â€œItâ€™s bold, audacious and itâ€™s out there,â€ Shelton said. â€œI know some of you have said, â€˜Iâ€™ve seen this before.â€™ I guarantee that you have not seen this before.â€
Hay added: â€œThe end result is how we at the U of A can come out stronger and better than ever before."