UA President Ann Weaver Hart presented the University’s goals and strategies to reach them during the second day of the Arizona Board of Regents meeting on the UA campus.
Hart presented specifics regarding the UA’s strategic planning process and outlined the University’s vision and achievements that relate directly to enterprise goals previously set forth by the regents. These goals are focused on education, research, community impact and productivity.
The UA, Hart said, is pursuing innovative strategies that build upon its already-strong interdisciplinary collaborations. The goal is to improve operations and become increasingly innovative. The UA will do this by adopting a new business model and designing new systems to foster and reward effective innovators.
A top priority, Hart said, is making sure students have access to a quality education. The goal is to provide every student with an innovative engagement experience of scholarship, inquiry and service. Participating is such activities will improve UA student retention and graduation rates and provide a better experience overall for them, she said.
These experiences might take place in research labs or on world-renowned projects such as OSIRIS-REx, a UA-led mission to an asteroid. This year alone, 35 undergraduate and graduate students worked on the mission. Other students might participate in journalism internships or community projects that benefit people in Tucson and beyond.
“Students who are more engaged are more likely to persist,” Hart said. “We want our students to have the opportunity to work in the field as well as in labs.” Students will have opportunities to work on causes that are important to them, such as furthering campus sustainability.
Regarding research excellence, the UA has a rich history of discovery and innovation. The UA uses these strengths to address local, state and worldwide challenges such as food and energy production. The solutions, she said, will cut across disciplines.
The UA will emphasize research in the areas of biomedical science and biotechnology; environmental science, technology and policy; optical and information science and technology; and space sciences, Hart said. “These are areas that have high potential for external grants and contracts,” she said.
External partnerships, she said, will be critical. The UA has new systems in place to improve every aspect of tech transfer – moving UA innovations into the marketplace and enhancing relationships with the private sector across the state and around the world. The UA’s facilities, such as the BIO5 Institute‘s Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building, increasingly will foster collaboration through interdisciplinary research.
The UA’s mission is to share its knowledge, research and creativity, enhancing the quality of life for people in Arizona, the nation and the world. One way it does this locally is through Cooperative Extension, which has grown to include programs in nutrition, financial management, small business development and legal assistance for low-income families. Last year alone, UA faculty and staff served 438,000 Arizonans, up from 334,000 in 2009.
A goal is to increase capacity in high-needs workforce areas such as health care, education and fields based in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Tucson is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country with concentrations of business in solar, bioscience, aerospace and defense, and the UA intends to build on this.
Read the full story by Jennifer Fitzenberger, University Communications here: