UI adopts new strategies

By Christine Kim

After almost a year of assessing and planning, the first and second phase of the University strategic plan is now complete.

The strategic plan, which presents the main challenges of the University and ways to overcome them, was divided into three stages of development: overall framework of all three Universities, which was finished Aug. 8; campus-related organization plans, which was finished Jan. 31; and school, college and major administrative unit plans, which is scheduled for June 30.

The plan sets a path for the University to follow for the next five years. Although minor plans have been made before, a strategic plan of the three campuses to each college in each university has never been made to this extent.

“There hasn’t been a comprehensive strategic plan ever in place at the University,” said Daniel Layzell, assistant vice president of strategic planning and policy analysis. “It’s a major new initiative, and simply getting many different people onto the same page about what we need to do and how we’re going to do it is all work that needs to get done.”

Upon taking office Jan. 31 last year, University President B. Joseph White said he would work to enhance the institution’s quality and reputation. White wrote on the strategic plan Web site that the creation of an elaborate strategic plan is essential.

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The plan aims to revamp student recruitment and use of merit aid, expand international partnerships, redevelop Orchard Downs and continue development of the Research Park, create a new position of Vice Chancellor of Development and Advancement and a separate office of Corporate Relations and improve research programs. Officials plan to reduce campus enrollment by 1,000-2,000 students during the next five years to maintain instructional quality.

“I think students will benefit from having a number of targeted initiatives in areas that are based on campus strengths,” said Melanie Loots, associate vice chancellor for research.

“The goal is to understand what’s going on in terms of competition and then carefully assess what you do well and what you’re not as good at and put together a set of plans,” Layzell said.

The plan will require an estimated $268 million dollars over five years. The plan will obtain the funds through a shared agreement between contributors and the University.

There are five groups involved in the compact: the state General Assembly and the state tax payers, the students and families who contribute through tuition, the faculty, private benefactors and the University leaders.

According to the UI strategic plan, tuition could increase by at least 60 percent during the next five years, if rival universities increase their tuition or if the University’s quality changes. The tuition would increase 10 percent a year, increasing tuition by roughly $4,300 in five years.

“A big part of the reason for why tuition increased (in the past) is due to the state’s budget difficulties and the fact that a few years ago there were significant reductions in state funding provided to higher education,” Layzell said. “Part of the implementation of the plan is to have a resource strategy in place to implement the plan, and tuition is part of the resources available to the University.”

Although competitive analyses has been done before, the plan specifically called for campuses to include an individualized analysis in their strategy development to improve the University’s current standing.

“This is an ongoing process, and it continues to evolve and will evolve over the next several months,” said Douglas Vinzant, associate vice president. “And that’s the exciting thing about the planning process.”