Focus Areas for 2017-18

When we developed the 2016-21 long-range plan, we assumed instability in financial support at the state level. This assumption has unfortunately held true as the state significantly reduced funding to the university in both FY17 and FY18. Evidence suggests that further reductions are likely. Other assumptions in the plan confirm the challenging environment in which we are currently operating—increased competition for students, faculty, staff and resources; influences from demographic changes; and the impact of societal views of higher education as a private commodity rather than a public good.

In the coming year, we must recognize and rise above our environmental challenges and press on toward our mission of educating more students to be global citizen scholars committed to public affairs. We must pursue this mission while remaining true to our values—maintaining a student centered learning environment, developing knowledge through research and creativity, upholding integrity at all times, valuing our people, maintaining responsible stewardship of our resources, and being inclusive, innovative, collaborative and transparent—no matter the level of support received from the state.

As we work to operate the University in an era of declining state support, four principles will influence our fiscal decisions and strategic planning:

  • Becoming more efficient in all areas of operation including our staffing structure
  • Increasing revenue by expanding high-demand programs, adding additional programs based on workforce demand, increasing private giving and grant funding, and partnering with the private sector on new initiatives
  • Reducing costs for students outside of the tuition and fee structure
  • Revising our current tuition, fee and scholarship policies

The following three areas of emphasis are consistent with these principles, the 2016-21 long-range plan, our focus last year and our mission.

Increase the number of graduates while maintaining academic rigor and quality

  • Continue to grow enrollment of domestic students and sustain enrollment of international students
  • Strategically expand traditional and non-traditional academic offerings in fields with high workforce demand and eliminate programs in areas of low interest or demand
  • Improve retention and graduation rates by enhancing student support and strategically incentivizing program completion
  • Develop and implement strategies designed to decrease the average number of hours taken by students at graduation
  • End growth in the student to faculty ratio and initiate long-term strategies to decrease the student-to-faculty ratio

Enhance campus diversity and inclusion

  • Develop and implement a transition support program for at risk students (ACT score less than 24, first-generation and Pell-eligible)
  • Continue cultural consciousness/competency development for faculty, staff, administrators, students and the community to improve campus climate
  • Enhance and expand diverse faculty and staff outreach, recruitment and retention efforts (including faculty mentoring)
  • Implement college and unit level initiatives consistent with the Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan
  • Develop and implement the Bear POWER program, a two-year program for students ages 18 to 26 with intellectual disabilities

Funding

  • Increase efficiency by enhancing the university’s procurement policies and practices, negotiating favorable contractual terms, and evaluating opportunities to centralize and consolidate support staff services
  • Begin to develop a comprehensive campaign to raise private funds and increase the endowment
  • Evaluate and revise the tuition, fee and scholarship policies
  • Evaluate opportunities to enhance campus facilities through public-private partnerships
  • Increase compensation for faculty and staff