Strategic Plan

The strategic plan was built through a campus-wide, collaborative process that established a set of eight guiding priorities and measurable goals that, together, form the roadmap for the University of Arkansas’ future. With the mission of the U of A as a public land-grant institution of teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement at its core, the strategic planning process included input from all departments, many interdisciplinary programs and center, students, faculty and staff.

While the goals and actions included in the strategic plan are big picture, university-level items, every unit across the university will play a key role in implementing the actions aimed at reaching these overarching university goals and moving the overall university metrics presented in the plan. A metrics dashboard of university-level and other more distinct measures allows for tracking the progress of the plan while ensuring alignment with the university’s mission.

Mission and Vision

The strategic plan puts into action the university’s mission and vision to establish a foundation from which to advance the university in all aspects, from student success to research, including its mission as a land-grant and flagship institution.

Guiding Priorities

Advancing Student Success

Maximizing the success of students is our highest priority starting with their recruitment and ending with their transition to careers or further education. We will work to maximize the success of our students, with special attention to first-generation college-going Arkansans, by increasing financial assistance for those who need it, easing the transition into the university, improving retention and graduation rates, and providing career planning and career transition assistance.

Goal

Increase retention and graduation rates, post-graduation employment and graduate education enrollment rates.

Actions

  • Complete planning for Student Success Center.
  • Conduct fundraising to support the creation of the Student Success Center.
  • Build a comprehensive (360) advising capacity to include peer mentoring and coaching.
  • Reduce withdrawal and failure rates in key gateway courses in Math and Chemistry through changes in instructional design and pedagogy.
  • Complete five-year enrollment plan centered around deliberate and strategic growth.
  • Optimize the onboarding experience for new freshmen by exploring integration opportunities between onboarding events.

Goal

Significantly increase recruitment and graduation rates of Arkansans, first-generation students and underserved student populations.

Actions

  • Raise funds and increase recipients of Advance Arkansas Scholarship.
  • Evolve scholarship programs to align with student needs, including the establishment of the REACH Housing Scholarship an emergency scholarship fund.

Achievements from 2017-18 Actions

  • Academic leadership in the Provost’s Office restructured for student success.
  • STEP pilot program launched, with increases in retention by those receiving grants.
  • New 2 + 2 transfer agreement reached with University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
  • Improved student access to health and wellness programs.
  • Changes made in academic designation from "undeclared" to "exploratory,” allowing for further discovery of academic fields by undecided students.

Metrics for Advancing Student Success

  • Freshman retention rate.
  • Four and six year graduation rate – both absolute and expected.
  • Job and graduate school placement upon graduation.
  • Out-of-pocket costs for students.

Building a Collaborative and Innovative Campus

The University of Arkansas is a comprehensive, top-tier research university with many individual units and disciplines that contribute to teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement. As higher education becomes increasingly more interdisciplinary and collaborative, reflecting the world around us, we will foster a university environment that embraces collaboration and interdisciplinary pursuits to stimulate innovation in our approaches to teaching and learning.

Goal

Improve efficiency and productivity in all aspects of the university’s mission.

Actions

  • Review policies and processes to ensure they do not inhibit collaborative teaching and curricular development.
  • Continue to assess business processes and redesign those needed to improve efficiency and productivity to free up resources for allocation to other priorities.
  • Support the development of collaborative curricula and courses.
  • Launch plan for signature research areas.
  • Explore partnership with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Achievements from 2017-18 Actions

  • Dashboard created to track interdisciplinary work across campus.
  • New signature research areas identified as cross-disciplinary areas for investment.
  • Chancellor’s Fund award options expanded.

Metrics for Building a Collaborative and Innovative Campus

  • Number of cross-college and cross-department academic programs.
  • Number of research grants with primary investigators from multiple departments or colleges.
  • COACHE survey data improvement on collaborative culture.
  • Number of collaborative publications and books in top journals and presses
  • Number of faculty participating in institutionally targeted collaborative research areas.
  • Total dollars awarded from external sponsors or donors arising from Chancellor’s Fund awards.

Enhancing our Research and Discovery Mission

The creation of new knowledge and creative activities is a defining feature of a research university. We will work to increase and enhance our research activity across the broad spectrum of areas that make up this comprehensive university and define signature areas where we can excel as an institution.

Goal

Strengthen research infrastructure to increase the impact of the university’s scholarly, research and creative activities.

Actions

  • Examine structures, policies and processes of research centers.
  • Finalize planning for interdisciplinary research facilities.
  • Assess recovery and allocation of research infrastructure costs to optimize use of funds recovered from facility and administrative costs.
  • Align future academic planning with academic space through development of improved processes.
  • Update policies regarding intellectual property and research compliance infrastructure (IRB, IBC, Export Control, and Animal Welfare).

Goal

Foster new research collaborations that result in sustainable initiatives to increase research funding and expenditures, and other scholarly and creative activities.

Action

  • Expand resources available to researches to continue to support faculty research activities.
  • Expand participation in the Chancellor’s three funds – the Innovation and Collaboration Fund, Commercialization Fund and Gap Fund.
  • Complete reorganization of Commercialization Office and begin implementation of programs to increase intellectual property development.

Goal

Leverage institutional strengths to create a distinct research identity for the university.

Actions

  • Launch plan for signature research areas.
  • Hire first ARA scholar and new faculty for signature research areas.

Achievements from 2017-18 Actions

  • Research expenditures reached a historical high of 175 million.
  • Research proposal support staff increased.
  • Structural and procedural assessment of interdisciplinary research centers completed along with assessment on research space needs.
  • Renovation of arts facilities currently underway; collaboration among arts faculty growing through private funding.

Metrics for Enhancing our Research and Discovery Mission

  • Externally sponsored funds for research, including recovery of facilities and administrative costs.
  • Scholarly productivity, indices/program ranking.
  • Patents and licenses.
  • Nationally recognized awards for research, scholarly and creative activities.
  • Proportion of faculty with external funding for research, scholarly and creative activities. 

Enriching Campus Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity should permeate the very fabric of the University of Arkansas to create an inclusive environment. We will therefore work to diversify along many dimensions our faculty, staff and students and at the same time continue to foster a culture that is welcoming to all.

Goal

Improve the culture and climate of inclusivity at the university and diversify campus demographics to more closely mirror those of the state.  

Actions

  • Diversify campus demographics through recruitment and retention of underserved student populations in Arkansas.
  • Implement and complete the diversity planning process for all university departments.
  • Improve recruitment and retention of diverse faculty by strategic allocation of resources.

Goal

Conduct outreach to integrate diversity and inclusion practices at entities across the state.

Actions

  • Create IDEALS Institute to provide leadership in research, development and delivery of educational and training services and outreach and engagement efforts to entities statewide.

Achievements from 2017-18 Actions

  • Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion hired fall 2017, with strategic plan currently in development.
  • Diversity and Inclusion research fellow working with faculty to secure funding focused on increasing recruitment and retention of diverse and underserved students. New enrollment hires made focusing on Spanish-speaking students.
  • Focus made to recruit underrepresented minority faculty in 2017-18 recruiting process.

Metrics for Enriching Campus Diversity and Inclusion

  • Demographic data of faculty/staff/students and how it matches Arkansas’ demography.
  • Results in campus climate and COACHE survey on inclusivity, engagement and sense of belonging.
  • Retention and graduation rate gap among demographic groups.

Investing in Faculty Excellence

A great university recruits, hires and retains a great faculty. To ensure that we can hire and retain an outstanding faculty, we will work to provide competitive salaries for faculty, new faculty and staff, enhance support for teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement, and provide a supportive environment for academic pursuits.

Goal

Develop and retain high-quality faculty and staff to ensure excellence in teaching, learning, research and collaboration.

Actions

  • Continue to convert non-tenure track teaching lines to tenure track lines where possible.
  • Revise the university’s promotion and tenure policy to ensure clarity and consistency with the university’s focus on excellence in teaching, research and service.
  • Continue aligning faculty compensation levels to those of peer institutions.
  • Implement a database to more efficiently track faculty activities.

Achievements from 2017-18 Actions

  • Vice provost for faculty development office realigned.
  • Developed policies and promotion pathways for non-tenure track faculty to be considered by Faculty Senate and administration.
  • Compensation policies for classified staff updated.

Metrics for Investing in Faculty Excellence

  • Compensation data relative to peer institutions for both tenured track faculty and non-tenured track faculty.
  • Number of tenured-track faculty and proportion of tenured/tenured track and non-tenured track faculty.
  • National and international awards for teaching and research.
  • Investments of institutional dollars into faculty research and teaching.

Promoting Innovation in Teaching and Learning

High quality faculty teaching and student learning experiences have been defining features of the University of Arkansas for many years. We will work to maintain this high level of teaching and learning and at the same time promote the creation of timely and innovative academic programs and learning experiences, domestically and internationally.

Goal

Promote student success through innovative teaching and course redesigns.

Actions

  • Create implementation plan for new general education requirements.
  • Integrate course redesign support across online and in-person classroom formats.
  • Support development of innovative curriculum or new pedagogical approaches aimed at more team-taught interdisciplinary courses.
  • Implement Inclusive Access to increase student savings on course materials.

Achievements from 2017-18 Actions

  • New learning spaces in development to foster innovation, active learning and engagement.
  • Faculty Senate approved recommendations by Teaching Council for new ways to evaluate faculty.
  • Rebuilt, curated, and expanded the “TIPS” website (“Teaching Innovation & Pedagogical Support”) to serve as a repository for innovative teaching practices. Global Campus also working with Teaching and Faculty Support Center to help offer programs to U of A faculty on teaching innovation. 

Metrics for Promoting Innovation in Teaching and Learning

  • Proportion of undergraduate students who have at least one experiential learning experience upon graduation.
  • NSSE survey results on specific teaching-related questions.
  • Assessment data on general education skills.
  • External grants awarded for pedagogical improvement.
  • National awards for teaching.

Reaffirming our Land-grant and Flagship Responsibilities

The University of Arkansas is unique in that it is both the state’s flagship university and a land-grant institution. With this unique status comes a responsibility to engage, collaborate, and provide outreach to the citizens, businesses, governmental and civic entities of the state to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Goal

Clearly articulate the university’s role as a land-grant and flagship institution to its varied constituencies and strengthen university outreach efforts across the state and beyond.

Actions

  • Collect, assign, coordinate, support, track and report all requests for services from both public and private stakeholders.
  • Effectively communicate and promote the full range of positive impacts the university has on the state of Arkansas.
  • Complete economic impact study.

Achievements from 2017-18 Actions

  • University’s vision and mission refined and updated.
  • Strategic economic development plan created.
  • Cross-laminated timber used in new residence hall.
  • Campus strategic communications plan completed and unifying themes developed.

Metrics for Reaffirming our Land-Grant and Flagship Responsibilities

  • Enrollment of and degrees awarded to Arkansans.
  • Economic impact of university and alumni on local and state economy.
  • Financial support received and number of collaborative agreements made with Arkansas industry.
  • Number of Arkansas start-up companies created.

Strengthening Graduate Education

Graduate education is an important part of a research university and key to the university’s impact on economic development. And graduate students make significant contributions to the research and teaching missions at the University of Arkansas. We will work to enhance and improve graduate education by intensifying the recruitment and boosting support of graduate students as well as making sure that our programs are preparing graduate students for a variety of productive careers.

Goal

Improve the quality and reputation of graduate programs and increase graduate enrollment and graduation rates.

Actions

  • Develop professional master’s degree programs that address market needs in Arkansas.
  • Implement new strategies toward improving graduate student recruitment, student retention, and the overall reputation of the Graduate School and International Education.

Goal

Grow the university’s international student enrollment and improve retention and graduation rates of international students.

Action

  • Grow the number of partnering schools abroad to drive international student recruitment.
  • Pilot new recruiting efforts aimed at growing international student populations.

Achievements from 2017-18 Actions

  • Graduate stipend competitiveness analysis completed.
  • Strategic plan for Graduate Studies and International Education completed.

Metrics for Strengthening Graduate Education

  • Doctoral enrollment and degrees awarded
  • Proportion of graduate students supported by external sources.
  • National graduate program rankings.
  • Student enrollment and degrees awarded in professional masters and professional doctoral programs.
  • Graduate application statistics (number of applicants, GPA and GRE scores.)
  • Job placement for graduate students.
  • Investments per graduate student.

Strategic Planning Process

Strategic planning is a process -- one Chancellor Steinmetz believes should happen from the ground up, and be as inclusive as possible.

As part of this comprehensive approach to campus planning, and following meetings with every academic department, many interdisciplinary programs and centers on campus, students, faculty, and staff, the chancellor received a deeper knowledge of the issues faced by the academic units, while providing an opportunity for departments to share their strengths, priorities, and future direction. 

The process unfolded in several phases, and with the arrival of Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor James Coleman in January 2017, a new phase in the planning gets underway. The broad strokes  are detailed below:

Phases/Semester Timeline

Spring 2017

  1. The provost will convene the Guiding Priority team leads to create a framework for reporting. 
  2. The colleges will determine and report how the priorities align with college-level strategic plans. The service units will develop plans that support the institutional priorities that have been defined.
  3. The provost will determine which initiatives will be adopted and a summation of the plans described above will be shared with the campus community in March 2017.

Fall 2016

  1. The institution's guiding priorities, as drafted, are being shared with the campus for feedback. Following a feedback period, each priority will be assigned to a campus unit to flesh out some potential action plans and initiatives.
  2. Chancellor Steinmetz' investiture speech on October 20, 2016, outlined the campus priorities.
  3. Eight team leads (along with eight groups of faculty and staff), have been assigned a priority with the task of fleshing out potential initiatives that could be implemented.

Summer 2016

  1. Deans and their staffs reviewed departmental summary documents and identified themes across the individual colleges.
  2. Three groups of faculty, staff, and students reviewed the departmental summaries with an eye toward identifying university-wide themes that have emerged from the unit discussions. These groups were organized by the traditional mission areas of research and service; teaching and learning; and outreach and engagement. The committees, students and academic deans provided summary reports to the chancellor.

  3. The work of the committees was collated at the administration level to begin to define the university's direction for the future.

Spring 2016

Campus academic departments, centers and programs summarized their strengths, weaknesses, and challenges with an eye toward their future direction. They defined long-term goals, needs, priorities, directions and reported back to the chancellor’s and provost's offices and the deans by the end of the semester via summary document. 75+ individual meetings held with the chancellor were completed by May 31.

Download the departmental summaries

Campus Strategic Planning:
Phase III Update February 2017

Jim Coleman, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, convened the heads of the eight working groups to direct the development of their individual reports. After those reports were delivered, the groups met to synthesize them, focusing on emergent top priorities for implementation.

“Ideally, the endpoint is the development of the plan, which will span 3-5 years, articulate a set of action item, and allocate not only the resources but the responsibility for each thing. Determining what we will measure has been at the forefront of the work these groups are doing.”

Some actions were selected as early as March – while others will be phased in over time.

Academic and administrative units were asked to go into the budget process with a plan for cutting 1 percent from their budgets each year for the next three years. Academic units reallocated their 1 percent to support the guiding priorities within their colleges, while the administrative units’ 1 percent will fund a centrally managed pool of funds for strategic allocation.

Service units were asked to wait to begin their planning until the strategic plan actions/strategies were determined.

Task Force Groups & Draft Initiatives

The initial report from seven of the eight groups is available for review. Please note this is not the final plan or document. This document will be further assessed for cross-cutting initiatives, potential costs and resources available, responsibilities, actions, and metrics.

Download the draft report

Advancing Student Success

  1. Charles Robinson
  2. Suzanne McCray
  3. Todd Shields
  4. Anne Raines
  5. Stephanie Schulte
  6. Rachel Glade

Building a Collaborative and Innovative Campus

  1. Elizabeth Margulis
  2. Peter MacKeith
  3. Lynda Coon
  4. Marty Matlock
  5. Fran Hagstrom
  6. Stephanie Pierce
  7. Doug Behrend

Enhancing our Research and Discovery Mission

  1. Jim Rankin
  2. Jack Cothren
  3. Ed Pohl
  4. Fred Spiegel
  5. Carol Reeves
  6. Lisa Corrigan
  7. Trish Starks

Enriching Campus Diversity and Inclusion

  1. Ro DiBrezzo
  2. Barbara Lofton
  3. Geffrey Davis
  4. Anna Zajicek
  5. Michael Evans
  6. Calvin White
  7. J. Shelton

Investing in Faculty

  1. Ashok Saxena
  2. John Pijanowski
  3. Kathy Van Laningham
  4. Wes Stites
  5. Matt Waller
  6. Neil Allison
  7. Euche Ewelucwa

Promoting Innovation in Teaching and Learning

  1. Terry Martin
  2. Cheryl Murphy
  3. Shelly Walters
  4. Lorraine Brewer
  5. Jeannie Whayne
  6. Curt Rom
  7. Dave Frederick

Reaffirming our Land-grant and Flagship Responsibilities (Outreach/Engagement)

  1. Randy Massanelli
  2. Cynthia Sides
  3. Heather Nachtmann
  4. Leslie Yingling
  5. Terry Siebenmorgen
  6. Patrick Williams

Strengthening Graduate Education

  1. Kim Needy
  2. Alan Ellstrand
  3. Brinck Kerr
  4. Kate Mamiseishvili
  5. Necia Parker-Gibson
  6. Jean-Francois Meullenet
  7. Charlie Rosenkrans