Fall Semester Updates

TO:            Campus Community
FROM:        President Ann Weaver Hart 
DATE:         October 25, 2013
SUBJECT:    Fall Semester Updates
I hope the first few months of the academic year have been as invigorating for all of you as they have for me. It is wonderful to have our students on campus again after the summer!
As many of you know, we are in the midst of executing our academic strategic plan, Never Settle. The plan came together last year through a process led by the Faculty Senate’s Strategic Planning and Budget Committee (SPBAC). Over the year SPBAC and other University leaders met with almost 4,000 members of the UA community to gather feedback. Our central goals and values were drawn together with ABOR strategic priorities and your collective wisdom into the Never Settle plan.  A distinct but parallel effort of work on our UA brand is ongoing, and I will keep you apprised in future communications.
With the Never Settle academic strategic plan, the UA is calling upon its distinguished history as a land-grant university, one that grew from a single building in 1885 to the major research university we know today. The plan proclaims our intention to redefine the land-grant mission for the future and prioritizes four major activities that we undertake every day:
            Engaging our students
            Innovating new knowledge and ways of conducting creative inquiry
            Partnering with our local and global communities
            Creating synergy between these activities to build an infrastructure for change that cuts across all elements of our mission and all aspects of our plan.
I would like to thank you for your role in crafting the Never Settle plan and for the many candid conversations about the future of this university. I also want to begin sharing periodic updates on our work in the hopes of maintaining the spirit of partnership and engagement that is at the plan’s core.
Perhaps most importantly, I and other members of the University’s leadership have been presenting the Never Settle academic plan to groups across campus and across the state. Our goal is to spread the message of the plan far and wide and to engage Arizona’s leaders, communities and businesses in the important work of implementing our strategic priorities, with a particular focus on external audiences. I’ve spoken with groups from campus, including the Faculty Senate and Appointed Professionals Advisory Council, and with community partners at the Breakfast Club, the Alumni Association’s Wildcat for Life Leadership Council, the UA Foundation Board, and the Board of Trustees for the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.
We are also working to showcase the world-class teaching, research and community engagement that you already do every day. My new blog is one way that I am spreading the word about the model of 21st century higher education that the University of Arizona is creating. I encourage you to read it athttp://president.arizona.edu/communications/blog.
In addition to the blog, I recently had the pleasure to take part in a discussion with Michael Crow, President of ASU, about the economic future of Arizona and the role that our two great universities will play in its formation.
Earlier this month, I travelled to the east coast to spread the word about the UA. In New York City I met with key members of national publications, and in Boston I went to the first meeting of the advisory board for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education, which will develop recommendations to promote the ongoing strength and diversity of higher education in the U.S. I also spent two days in Washington, D.C., where I participated in a series of conversations about the future of higher education at a meeting of the Association of American Universities and met with economic advisors and other university presidents at the White House to discuss the need for broad access to the opportunities provided by the nation’s universities and colleges.
In the meantime our communications team, led by our new Senior Vice President of University Relations, Teri Lucie Thompson, is leading the University’s brand strengthening effort and working diligently to share our stories throughout Arizona and across our region, the nation and world. While the Never Settle academic strategic plan will drive how we advance the University’s strategic goals in coordination with ABOR’s enterprise plan, the rebranding effort will define and help to illustrate the UA spirit of innovation, ingenuity and excellence. This work will ensure that we tell a compelling story about the UA’s quality and prominence, and that we give our partners a clear reason to believe in the future of the UA and an urgent motivation to support it. Thanks to those of you who have participated in discussions and focus groups, sharing your insights about our great institution.
Finally, less than a month is left until the November ABOR meeting, which will take place on our campus and at which University leadership will showcase details of the Never Settle academic plan and corresponding business and financial plans.
Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our students, the University and the communities of which we are all a part.