August 2014 Friends of UA
Dear Friend of UA,
The U.S. system of higher education faces many challenges to continuing its important role in the nation’s future. Faculty, staff and university leadership – and most importantly our students – each have a part to play in the flexible, improvisational university that will succeed in the 21st century.
But the linchpin in this model, and the key to its success, is faculty.
Faculty leaders bind an institution together, creating a community of learning where teaching, research and community engagement work together and respond to the challenges facing our world. Creating a culture that encourages innovative faculty leadership maximizes the impact of the university, and creates the social, economic, scientific, artistic and other benefits that we all expect from our nation’s great universities.
At the UA, one of the main ways that faculty drive our mission is through the rich tradition of interdisciplinary research and teaching that has been the foundation for many successes. Continuing and expanding this tradition is at the heart of the UA’s Never Settle strategic academic and business plan.
The priorities of Never Settle already are at work, driving innovation at the Confluence Center for Creative Inquiry, as well as new approaches to pedagogy for our introductory chemistry courses – both of which are discussed in more detail in the brief articles that follow this letter. The new Defense and Security Research Institute, Tech Launch Arizona, the BIO5 Institute and other research centers also offer examples of innovation led by our faculty.
Even with the success that we have had at the UA, much more remains to be done. The underlying reality of our world is change, and universities must be able to adapt and lead that change. If faculty members are going to be the driving force behind these changes, they must be empowered as leaders and collaborators.
The UA has sought to institutionalize this kind of culture through its Academic Leadership Institute, which helps to ensure that faculty members become the kind of leaders we need. Formed in 2010, the Institute provides a yearlong professional development experience for 25 campus members – current leaders and those with the potential and desire to assume leadership roles. Four years later, alumni of the program are now among a core group of faculty members and staff who are creating the future of this institution by working together to put their dedication, expertise and talent to use for the good of the institution, our students and the communities we serve.
The many interdisciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students across the UA are working in ways that redefine how we organize human knowledge. They also emphasize the translation of that knowledge into real-world benefits – benefits that impact the everyday lives of Arizonans, help drive our state’s economy and ensure the long-term relevance of and reliance on the UA as Arizona’s great land-grant university.
I recently posted a blog on this topic, and I encourage you to read it to find out more about the ways that the UA is creating a culture of faculty leadership.
Ann Weaver Hart
University of Arizona