Where are They Now – Your Ideas are Alive in the Strategic Plan

Where are They Now – Your Ideas are Alive in the Strategic Plan

By Elliott Cheu and Lisa OrdonezStrategic Planning Committee Co-Chairs
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Dear UA Community,

For the past five months, we have been deeply immersed in the UA strategic planning process. As co-chairs, we have had to balance day-to-day conversations, countless engagement opportunities, fact gathering, connection making, and process refinement, while never losing sight that all of this must be tied to a bold, yet strategic, vision for our future. A vision that refocuses the University to address the worldwide influence of the convergence of the physical, biological, and digital sciences known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Although we have each been at the UA for almost 25 years, we could not have imagined how much we still had to learn about our great university. We knew people here were passionate, but we did not realize how deeply that passion runs. We knew there was vast knowledge in many areas, but we did not know that we have some of the top thinkers in areas as diverse as neuroscience, dance, and anthropology, to name a few. We knew our students were top-notch, but we did not know how committed they are to use their skills and passion to improve the campus and the world. We knew that our staff cares about doing their jobs well, but we did not realize how much they go above and beyond every day to support the UA mission.

We have also heard that sometimes it is the small things that really matter. Like finding ways to more easily sign up for classes, to knowing how much financial aid you will receive, or even more importantly, where to park!

We have been asked how this process is unique from others that have happened at the UA in the past. From our perspective, our objective was to truly engage as many people on campus and the larger community in order to formulate a focused plan poised for success. Additionally, we have a leader in President Robbins who will get this done. And, while we have an incredible university, we need to keep evolving and improving as the world changes around us.

The planning process has five distinct phases.

The Strategic Planning Committee has considered all of the feedback from Phases 1-2. Your early input through town halls, focus groups, surveys, interactive discussions and data sharing enabled us to examine and aggregate your ideas. In smaller group settings, such as themed campus meetups and committee meetings, we have done deeper dives into big ideas and priority areas that emerged. We have begun working toward strategic pillars, refining them with your input during this process. Additionally, 13 design teams were engaged to help craft more specific initiatives for the strategic plan.


We will continue to refine the pillars and initiatives that will underpin the plan as part of Phase 3. Deans and other campus leaders will regularly engage with the process. During Phases 3-5, the strategic planning committee will visit every UA college as well as other units to encourage dialogue about how each uniquely sees itself in developing students and leading research in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Over the summer, we will work toward finalizing the strategy draft and begin preparing for plan implementation.


  • Look for your invitations to attend college visits and participate.
  • When asked to respond to draft pillars and initiatives online via a comment period, do so.
  • When faculty and staff are asked to participate in an organizational health survey, do so. Our goal will be a minimum of 75 percent completion rate.
  • Visit the strategic plan site for updates.

Thank you again for lending your voice and time to this process to help ensure our best future.


Elliott Cheu
Associate Dean, College of Science

Lisa Ordóñez
Vice Dean, Eller College of Management

(This communication first appeared in a May 8 email to campus.)

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