UT plans new ‘direction’ for 2010
UT committee working to ‘recalibrate’ strategic plan
Published: Thursday, March 4, 2010
Updated: Thursday, March 4, 2010 05:03
The Strategic Planning Committee is in the process of restructuring the “Directions 2007” strategic plan for UT to improve several areas of focus and calling it “Directions 2010.”
“Directions 2010 is the recalibration of the strategic plan that was written in 2007 before I came here,” said Main Campus Provost Rosemary Haggett. “The process the university is going through is to evaluate what kinds of changes need to be implemented. We are calling that evaluation process a minor remodeling of the strategic plan.”
The Strategic Planning Committee is made up of faculty, staff, administrators, students and local business and community leaders including a representative from the mayor’s office and the Home Builders Association of Greater Toledo.
“Any plan we can conceive includes the community outside of UT that’s why we have business leaders and community leaders within the committee,” said Jamie Barlowe, professor and chair of women and gender studies who sits on the Strategic Planning Committee. “Part of our responsibility as an institution is stewardship and the way we connect to Toledo and northwest Ohio.”
Barlowe said the goal of remodeling the strategic plan is to consider the future of UT, which includes evaluating every aspect of the university.
The committee has several workgroups that are focusing on six areas including Undergraduate Academic Programs, Graduate and Professional Academic Programs, Research, Student Centeredness and Campus Directions, Healthcare Access and Delivery Directions and Outreach and Engagement Directions.
Directions 2010 also includes three broader workgroups that evaluate the financial aspects, distinctiveness and land use of each of the six areas of focus.
“One is finance because whatever we plan and however bold we want to be, we also have to be financially responsible,” Barlowe said. “Another group is distinctiveness and that will look at what makes UT distinctive in each of those areas. The third is land use because that affects every one of the other goals.”
Barlowe said the committee is working on creating goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Some specific goals the committee plans to address, according to the Web site, looking at an increase in admission standards for each college, assisting adult and part-time students with tuition and scholarships, striving to achieve $100 million in external awards in the next three years as progress toward placing UT as a top 100 research university within another decade, and having 80 percent of professors utilize general classroom technologies.
The Directions 2007 strategic plan needed to be evaluated and changed, Barlowe said, because there have been significant changes in “external conditions” including the recent economic downfall.
“The external conditions have changed drastically since this document was approved in 2007,” she said. “There has been an economic downturn as well as significant changes in political leaders at the state and national level. We have a chancellor of education now and the chancellor wrote his own plan. We’re also going through the accredidation process. What we’re doing now is trying to align Directions 2010 with the state’s plan and the accreditation.”
The committee is still in the beginning stages of recalibrating the strategic plan and evaluating the university, but Barlowe said they have been actively engaging students and asking for input through Facebook and a “question of the week” on the Strategic Planning Web site.
“We want as much student input as we can get, which is why we are using social networking, and all of the drafts of the document are available online,” she said. “Anybody is welcome to send us e-mails and come to the meetings to give us feedback.”
One of the previous questions of the week revolved around how UT’s undergraduate programs rank “among other universities of comparable size and resources,” according to the Strategic Planning Web site.
“We’re looking at Directions 2007 and what we have accomplished and what we might want to change,” Barlowe said. “The 2007 Directions was written right after the merger and was to look to the future of a new UT. This one is to look at where we are now and the future of the current UT.”
According to Barlowe, the committee started evaluating the Directions 2007 plan in November 2009 and charged workgroups on coming up with addressing the six areas of focus in late January of this year.
A draft of Directions 2010 should be completed by the end of this semester, Barlowe said, and the document, when complete, will be sent to the Board of Trustees.
In response to the BOT’s Jan. 25 resolution calling for “fundamental, transformational and sustainable change,” Haggett said she has some ideas for improvement of her own, including higher admission standards for colleges.
“After hearing the board’s resolution, I posed some questions on how we would go about doing that,” Haggett said. “What if we created some new guarantees? What kind of new degrees could we give? How can we reward our faculty for doing the whole breadth of activities that we ask them to do?”
One of Haggett’s ideas was to increase admission standards for each college to be consistent with other “peer” universities such as the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.
The current standards for general admission at UT are a grade point average of 2.0 and an ACT score of 19. The standards for general admission for the University of Louisville are a 2.5 grade point average and a 20 on the ACT.
“The five schools that we call our aspirational peers are all schools that look a lot like us in our programming,” Haggett said. “They have a medical school, they have [a] Health Science Campus and they have a student population that’s around [the size of] our population. These are peers we would like to emulate to have the same sort of success that they have.”
But some professors don’t think UT should have higher admission standards.
Sharon Barnes, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies, said she does not think UT should have higher admission standards.
“I’m a big fan of the open admission that anyone with a high school degree has an opportunity to come here and achieve,” Barnes said. “That’s something that I believe very strongly in.”
Andy Jorgenson, associate professor of chemistry, said the “peer universities” Haggett is comparing UT’s admission standards with are branch campuses, which according to the U.S. Department of Education, those campuses are not close to the university’s main campus and usually offer specialized fields of study.
“It’s not reasonable to make those comparisons,” he said.
Haggett said she is also pursuing a College of Adult and Lifelong Learning for adult students who do not come straight from high school.
“People who are adults who either want to complete an education or get educated on a particular area have different concerns and needs than traditional students,” she said. “One of the things many schools have done to attract adults is to give them credit when they’ve learned outside of the classroom perhaps in their world of work through a Prior Learning Assessment. If we could create a robust PLA we would be much more attractive to adults.”
Haggett said her ideas are in line with Directions 2010.
“Both are about planning for the future of the university,” she said. “Directions 2010 addresses research, community, engagement, undergraduate and graduate education. These are suggestions about how we can respond to the resolution by the board for fundamental transformational change in line with the strategic plan.”