In her inaugural address, UA President Ann Weaver Hart charged members of the campus and community to think and act in more progressive and unconventional ways to aid in the success of the University.
Hart emphasized the need for cross-cutting innovation, educational excellence for all, expanding the University’s local and global impact and the acceleration of research, knowledge acquisition and creativity.
Speaking to hundreds in attendance on Nov. 30 at the UA’s Centennial Hall, Hart acknowledged that despite the ever expanding need for higher education, public financial support has been declining.
“Universities in the United States and around the world today are experiencing an unprecedented challenge to the formula for success, which has driven us since the second World War,” said Hart, the UA’s 21st president.
“We will never return to the funding models of the 20th century,” Hart said. “The revenue sources for great universities will be different. I will ask you to explore, develop and expand these opportunities.”
Hart has a vision for advancing the UA, shaping it into a “new university for the 21st century American West,” but with an eye toward the next century.
“Since WWII, we have benefited from a model of the great American land-grant research university that served our national needs splendidly,” she said. “But 2008 changed all that, and we now know, looking back, that the signs were there for a long time.”
It is now time to redefine the UA’s land-grant mission “through partner relationships with communities and industry and via innovative programs,” Hart said.
“These programs will mimic the impact of the agricultural experiment station in designing processes that lead to the discovery of new knowledge in all human endeavors,” she said, “and they will disseminate our work through multiple means that mimic the role of the extension service in the integration and application of that knowledge.”
Such forms of engagement will revolutionize the future, Hart said.
Toward a new future for the UA, students, faculty, staff, alumni, community neighbors, the Arizona Board of Regents, business partners and others must actively work to drastically shift outdated policies and practices, Hart affirmed.
“I also find no utility in adherence to rules and regulations that have persisted long past their useful lives,” Hart said.
“We will remove these barriers, eliminating dysfunctional rules that no longer serve the purposes for which they are enacted and which may have become an end to themselves,” Hart said, to which the audience applauded.
In addition to members of the campus community, legislators, the Tucson and Phoenix mayors, members of the Arizona Board of Regents, university presidents and other education and industry leaders from across the state attended the ceremony.
Hart noted that the process would be challenging. “I promise it will make you and me uncomfortable, and we may need very different laws and structures to make this possible, but this will be our future, or there will be no future.”
It is time to rethink investments, governance structures, partnerships as well as internal incentive and rewards structures to, among other things, increase the UA’s competitive nature and endowment while also ensuring the continued improvement of the UA’s educational and research endeavors, Hart said.
Also, the University must more readily engage in work that is both interdisciplinary and diverse, Hart said, pointing to the BIO5 Institute and Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry as examples. She added that, where necessary, parts of the institution should be redesigned to encourage the diverse exchange of knowledge, culture, art and work.
Moving in that direction, Hart initiated early in her arrival as UA president a steadfast effort to develop a comprehensive strategic plan through the Academic Strategic Planning Committee.
Co-chaired by Andrew Comrie, UA senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, and J.C. Mutchler, an associate research historian and associate research professor with the Southwest Center, the committee is developing a plan that integrates the campus and financial plans.
Hart also said her charges for action are especially necessary now given the need for improved educational achievement, research, creativity and support of local and global communities.
Also, the current fiscal reality is pressing the need for change.
“Out of that turbulence, we can and will become a 21st century university that not only attracts the best and brightest students, faculty, staff and partners, but also attracts visitors from around the world to see how we are doing it,” Hart said.
“And part of this success will be modeling change by disrupting the stolid past, as an ongoing process of creating the 22nd century university,” Hart continued.
Hart also presented ideas.
Among them, she suggested that to aid in reducing the shortage of physicians in Arizona – a shortage the UA College of Medicine has invested in alleviating – the University could partner with sister institutions located in states facing a similar challenge.
Regarding the institutional impact, Hart said the campus community might consider a heavier reliance upon external community-based reviews rather than strictly internal or disciplinary-based suggestions. “This process would yield a very different view of ourselves from the outside-in rather than the inside-out,” she said.
Interdisciplinary collaborations, particularity those that draw on the institution’s multiple forms of diversity, is another area for consideration, Hart said. “We are a community of multiple communities, and our commitment to knowledge must be equally diverse and complex,” she said.
In referencing the need to make serious adjustments to the rewards system, Hart said translational scholarship, engaged application and creative work could be more readily considered in tenure and promotions processes.
“The University of Arizona has the cultural, physical and virtual infrastructure that will advance innovations in education, research and community and global impact,” Hart said.
“The University of Arizona will continue to lead our region and the community of public, land-grant research universities in its comprehensive engagement with the full spectrum of human endeavor,” she said. “I call upon all of you to commit yourselves to the University of Arizona in new ways, for you may never know just how far the gift of your influence will reach.”
Source: UA NEWS