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President Hart Outlines UA Goals, Strategies to ABOR
UA President Ann Weaver Hart presented the University's goals and strategies to reach them during the second day of the Arizona Board of Regents meeting on the UA campus.
The University of Arizona will work to exceed its goals for developing cross-cutting innovations, educational excellence and access, research excellence and community impact, President Ann Weaver Hart told the Arizona Board of Regents on Dec. 7.
Hart presented specifics regarding the UA's strategic planning process and outlined the University's vision and achievements that relate directly to enterprise goals previously set forth by the regents. These goals are focused on education, research, community impact and productivity.
The UA, Hart said, is pursuing innovative strategies that build upon its already-strong interdisciplinary collaborations. The goal is to improve operations and become increasingly innovative. The UA will do this by adopting a new business model and designing new systems to foster and reward effective innovators.
A top priority, Hart said, is making sure students have access to a quality education. The goal is to provide every student with an innovative engagement experience of scholarship, inquiry and service. Participating is such activities will improve UA student retention and graduation rates and provide a better experience overall for them, she said.
These experiences might take place in research labs or on world-renowned projects such as OSIRIS-REx, a UA-led mission to an asteroid. This year alone, 35 undergraduate and graduate students worked on the mission. Other students might participate in journalism internships or community projects that benefit people in Tucson and beyond.
"Students who are more engaged are more likely to persist," Hart said. "We want our students to have the opportunity to work in the field as well as in labs." Students will have opportunities to work on causes that are important to them, such as furthering campus sustainability.
Regarding research excellence, the UA has a rich history of discovery and innovation. The UA uses these strengths to address local, state and worldwide challenges such as food and energy production. The solutions, she said, will cut across disciplines.
The UA will emphasize research in the areas of biomedical science and biotechnology; environmental science, technology and policy; optical and information science and technology; and space sciences, Hart said. "These are areas that have high potential for external grants and contracts," she said.
External partnerships, she said, will be critical. The UA has new systems in place to improve every aspect of tech transfer – moving UA innovations into the marketplace and enhancing relationships with the private sector across the state and around the world. The UA's facilities, such as the BIO5 Institute's Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building, increasingly will foster collaboration through interdisciplinary research.
The UA's mission is to share its knowledge, research and creativity, enhancing the quality of life for people in Arizona, the nation and the world. One way it does this locally is through Cooperative Extension, which has grown to include programs in nutrition, financial management, small business development and legal assistance for low-income families. Last year alone, UA faculty and staff served 438,000 Arizonans, up from 334,000 in 2009.
A goal is to increase capacity in high-needs workforce areas such as health care, education and fields based in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Tucson is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country with concentrations of business in solar, bioscience, aerospace and defense, and the UA intends to build on this.
Hart also discussed educational excellence and access, research excellence and the UA's financial outlook.
Strategies to increase degree production include getting more students in the pipeline, streamlining processes for students to transfer to the UA from community colleges, better efficiency and cost control by maximizing off-campus opportunities, keeping students in the system and providing them tools for success, and keeping the UA affordable and accessible.
Hundreds of UA programs work with local educators and families to strengthen the UA’s educational pipeline. For example, Early Academic Outreach offers programs for parents and students, to get them ready for the rigors of college. The University engages students in middle school and high school by offering summer camps and lab training. Engineering 102 gets high school students across the state active in college-level engineering.
Expanding transfer opportunities is a priority, Hart said. The UA has agreements with community colleges throughout the state, including Maricopa Community Colleges, Pima Community College, Cochise College and Arizona Western College, among others.
Building on the UA's strength as a land-grant institution, the UA is providing educational programs that are unique to communities in Sierra Vista, Phoenix, Yuma and other parts of the state. Currently, the UA has 194 students at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus with plans to increase that number, and 1,068 students who are enrolled completely online.
During fall 2012, 9,152 undergrads were enrolled in at least one fully online class. That's 29 percent of all undergrads, up from 19 percent in fall 2011, reflecting the UA's effort to increase online options.
Freshman retention is a priority, as well as offering services and programs to help students stay connected and achieve success. Also, helping students earn their degrees quicker is a goal, and toward that the UA now offers Degree Tracker, so students can keep close tabs on their academic progress.
Research excellence will remain a priority. The UA is currently ranked No. 19 among public universities in size of research enterprise, No. 2 in physical sciences and No. 1 in astronomy. The goal to double research volume to $1.2 billion by 2020. To do this, the UA will streamline to find efficiencies, wherever possible, leverage its current strengths, recruit new faculty members, provide top-notch research facilities and instruments and continue to involve students in all levels of research.
The UA's business model, she said, is evolving. In the new business model, the publicly funded labs will partner with private enterprise as co-equals within an integrated translational process that will both provide new revenue streams for research universities and a faster way to deliver products, medicines and other solutions to the marketplace. Tech Launch Arizona, Hart said, exists to help do this.