January 2014 Friends of UA



Dear Friend of UA,

As 2014 begins, we are at a pivotal moment in the history of the University of Arizona. To continue leading Arizona’s innovation economy the University of Arizona must be a leader among the nation’s super land-grant universities, which create synergy through the interaction of the world class education system established by the Morrill Act, cutting-edge clinical care and education at medical schools, and an extensive research enterprise. To reach this potential, we must embrace change and abandon practices that no longer serve our goals, while preserving our values and fulfilling our land-grant mission.

This is why you’ve heard me say before that the budget cuts of the past several years have not just been challenges, but also opportunities. This disruption created a chance to reshape our goals to meet the challenges of the future. We have taken the first step with our Never Settle Strategic Academic and Business Plan, but the hard part is still in front of us. We must make that plan a reality.

In this edition of Friends of UA, you will learn about some of the ways in which we are already realizing the goals set forth in our Never Settle plan. For example, you will read about how the iPlant Collaborative, which is led by researchers at the UA’s BIO5 Institute, is producing new knowledge that will change what researchers do and how they collaborate by bringing together experts from a vast array of fields.

Equally important is the work done in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, led by Regents’ Professor Hsinchun Chen at the Eller College of Management, which is an example of how one brilliant mind can have an impact across many different fields of research and application. Using insight gained over twenty years of experience in the management and analysis of digital records, Dr. Chen’s work allows law enforcement, medical professionals and many others to harness the power of big data. These efforts and others like them are setting examples for how we can transform the UA’s mission through the dissolution of traditional disciplinary boundaries.

The University of Arizona is building on work like that of Dr. Chen and the researchers at BIO5 with efforts to reshape how departments and divisions work together every day. These changes may be uncomfortable at first, but this discomfort is how we know that we are creating opportunities for further disruptive innovation throughout campus, just as the funding crisis did a few years ago.

Another example of an initiative to advance our goals and mission will be the introduction of the Responsibility Centered Management (RCM) Budget Model. The UA's shift to an RCM model marks a fundamental change in the way the University has traditionally done business. RCM is an incentives-based budget model designed to empower the entrepreneurialism and creativity of campus units and to make them responsible for proactively innovating new ways to succeed in the University’s teaching, research and service missions. This change will make resources available to areas experiencing growth, creating greater flexibility and adaptiveness at the institutional level.

Beyond our campus, we continue to build partnerships that will further our mission across the nation and the world. For instance, this month I am travelling to Dubai and Oman to meet with government officials and higher education leaders to discuss ways that the UA’s strengths in Arid Land Studies, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, and other fields can generate opportunities for strengthened international partnerships. This is new ground we are covering, literally and figuratively, and the partnerships that we form through these and other activities may indeed change the way the University of Arizona does business from how it has in the past.

As we have learned, much of this change is inevitable; by embracing it we can help determine the course that it takes so that our core values and goals remain at the heart of who we are and what we do.


Ann Weaver Hart

University of Arizona

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