U of A strategic plan - looking 25 years into the future

Plans to go global - U of A outlines plans for the future

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arizona Board of Regents accepted the 2018 Strategic Plan following a four-hour presentation from the U of A President Dr. Robert Robbins.

The plan outlines the goals of the university into 2025 and beyond.

Dr. Robbins says the university is planning for the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is already underway.

"It's happening right now," he said. "And it's happening very quickly."

He said most people would believe we are in the digital age but he believes we are already past that, an age which began with computerization in 1969.

Robotics, artificial intelligence and biological and space sciences have moved the world forward in ways not before seen.

Drones which can fly over fields of crops and measure whether there's an infestation of insects and then select the proper sprays to eliminate them, devices which can measure whether a mole on your arm is malignant, mining operations in space are in use or soon will be he said.

Space technologies such as being developed at Vector in Tucson, which the U of A is part of, will advance the state and the university into the future.

He also sees satellite campuses throughout the world, with ties to the U of A, which will make the university truly world wide in scope.

“There’s a big need for spots for Chinese students to get a U.S. education, there’s spots for students from India, from Korea, the gulf states in the Middle East, South America,” he said.

But the University needs to look south to unleash a big part of its potential.

"The main place we need to be focused on is Mexico," he said. "Because we have a common border, we are in many ways one people."

Still a sore point for the University is its relationship with the Arizona State Legislature, which has cut the higher education budget significantly in recent years.

"We are right at the bottom in terms of per capita expenditures and investment in higher education in the state of Arizona," he said. "We would love to see the state invest more."

The following is a release from the University on the 2018 Strategic Plan:

The Arizona Board of Regents unanimously accepted the new strategic plan for the University of Arizona following a detailed presentation by UA President Robert C. Robbins.

Photos and video from Friday’s presentation are available here: https://arizona.box.com/v/strategicplan

The plan capitalizes on the research and discovery strengths of the university in tackling global grand challenges, while ensuring students are prepared to be innovative, adaptive learners in an ever-evolving world. It also embraces the UA’s original mission as a land-grant university – to serve the diverse population of our state in ways that meet the unique needs of Arizonans.

“Over the past year, more than 10,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, elected officials and supporters shared their time and talents in collaborative dialogue about our future as an institution,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins. “I am incredibly grateful for the collective insight that has led to a bold, distinctive and differentiated vision for the UA.”

“This is really an inflection point for this university and southern Arizona,” said Arizona Board of Regents Chair Ron Shoopman. “The University of Arizona means everything to Tucson and southern Arizona. You have so much influence on our future, so we’re counting on you to do the things that are necessary to make this plan a reality.”

The plan is built on preparing students to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – a time of augmented intelligence and the fusion of the digital, physical and biological worlds. As a leading research institution, the University of Arizona will invest in programs and people in signature research areas while also providing transformative learning experiences for students.

The University of Arizona Promise:

  • Develop  innovative, adaptive learners and disruptive problem solvers who are  prepared to lead meaningful lives and improve society in the Fourth  Industrial Revolution economy. 
  • Invest  in the discovery, research and creative endeavors that address the world’s  grand challenges. 
  • Leverage  the UA's unique assets and diversity as competitive advantages, and be an  integral and collaborative member with the local and global communities. 

The student-centric plan has five distinct pillars with more than 90 initiatives in total:

The Wildcat Journey - Driving Student Success for a Rapidly Changing World

The University of Arizona is educating a diverse generation of high-potential learners who will reinvent their careers several times over their lifetimes. The plan is built on providing students with an environment and support system to develop the skills and mindset to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Grand Challenges - Tackling Critical Problems at the Edges of Human Endeavor

The UA will continue to advance its heritage as a pre-eminent research institution that fully leverages the Fourth Industrial Revolution advancements to lead in the university’s distinctive areas of expertise: space; natural and built environments; health; humans, society and intelligent systems; and data, computing and network sciences.

The Arizona Advantage - Serving Arizona by Advancing Our Land-Grant Mission by Driving Social, Cultural and Economic Impact

The University of Arizona will advance its land-grant mission to serve the state of Arizona in order to drive social, cultural and economic impact throughout the state and country. Plans include growing the Arizona economy by becoming one of the top five research institutions for key commercialization metrics, such as invention disclosures, licenses and startups. The UA will expand its arts infrastructure to establish the university as an arts destination with ever-increasing regional and national awareness.

“The arts need to permeate everything we do across the curriculum, across the culture of the university,” Robbins said. “We need to invest in the arts. This place has a soul to it and part of it is the creativity that helps our students become better at what they’re going to do as they go out in the world.”

UA Global - Setting the Standard for a Global University in the Digital Age

The UA will set a new standard for a global university in the digital age. The university is reconceptualizing micro-campuses, the study abroad program and also the global experience on campus, in addition to preparing students and scholars to thrive in a global world.

Institutional Excellence - Ensuring the UA Lives its Values and Innovative Culture

The UA will commit to living its unique values and innovative culture to enable an efficient, high-performing academic and administrative enterprise. The UA will be a dynamic educational and research institution that operates as a best-in-class place to learn, conduct research and work.

Highlights of the stated goals for 2025 include:

  • Grow  student retention rates to 91 percent 
  • Attain  90 percent employment or enrollment in an advanced-degree program for all  UA graduates within six months of commencement 
  • Grow  research and development expenditures from $622 million to $800 million,  placing the UA in the top 25 for research and development activities 
  • Create  a College of Data, Computing and Network Science, which integrates five  areas of excellence for UA 
  • Develop  the university as a leading Hispanic-Serving Institution and American  Indian Alaska Native-Serving Institution 
  • Launch  the UA as an arts and humanities destination that focuses on partnerships  to fuel social impact, cultural development and economic growth 
  • Establish  20 micro-campuses with up to 10,000 students and become a top-10 national  research university for study abroad students 
  • Engage  40 percent of faculty in active-learning teaching 
  • Implement  large-scale renewable-energy projects 

Among its strengths, the University of Arizona is a leader in space, optical and environmental sciences with internationally known researchers and facilities. The first U.S. mission to return a sample from an asteroid to the Earth is led by UA. The world’s largest mirrors are built and managed by the UA and Biosphere 2 is a one-of-a kind, living laboratory for environmental research. The university also has a unique partnership with Banner Health, one of the country’s largest health care systems. This partnership provides medical research opportunities to tackle pressing health challenges in our communities.

“We will have to every day, step-by-step, do the hard work of recruiting those students and getting them here and helping them be successful – and the long hours of writing grants and of winning grants to advance our research,” Robbins said. “There’s no magic bullet. It’s just a lot of hard work.”

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