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‘Inclusivity and Transparency’

We are engaging the entire campus community and larger statewide community in working together to craft a plan that will give us the strongest foundation from which to address society’s grand challenges. –

Dr. Robert C. Robbins President University of Arizona

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UA Strategic Plan


Spring 2018

By Dr. Robert C. Robbins, President, University of Arizona For more than 130 years, the University of Arizona has been a leader. From research achievements and excelling academic programs to economic impact and service to the community, our university ranks among the best in higher education. Shortly after I became president of the UA, I began talking about the need for a refocused institutional roadmap that will allow us to continue to lead in a changing world. January marked the beginning of our yearlong strategic plan process. I asked Elliott Cheu, associate dean of the College of Science, and Lisa Ordóñez, vice dean of the Eller College of Management, to chair this effort on behalf of the university, and am incredibly grateful for their leadership in this important undertaking. With a spirit of inclusivity and transparency, we are engaging the entire campus community and larger statewide community in working together to craft a plan that will give us the strongest foundation from which to address society’s grand challenges, prepare our next-generation workforce, and innovate to move Arizona’s economy forward. During the first day of spring classes, I was excited to visit classrooms and have the opportunity to speak with more than 1,300 students to discuss the process and gather input. On Jan. 29, we held an interactive planning event attended by 500 members of the campus and larger community. In addition to nearly 100 other focus group discussions and working sessions that have included faculty, students, staff, alumni and supporters, we are starting to define common ground and uniting goals that will be pillars of our strategic plan. The UA has incredible impact in Arizona and around the world, and our strategic plan must position us as a leader. Our goals must be ambitious enough to accelerate us among the ranks of public research universities while serving Arizona and its citizens, and most certainly give our students the educational foundation to become disruptive innovators and adaptable problem solvers. Leveraging the UA’s strengths will help us to advance forward-thinking discovery and innovation and will help position our students as leaders in navigating the challenges of global change and societal shifts resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We need to teach them teamwork, leadership,

experiential aptitude and emotional intelligence. We need to graduate learners who are proficient in their major of choice and are also able to shift their skill sets as defined by future workforce need. Whether it’s preparing our students to engineer and launch a spaceship to Mars, teach the next generation around the world, discover the cure for asthma or win the Super Bowl, we need to provide them all with the tools to dream big. With research activity that topped $622 million in total research and development expenditures for fiscal year 2017, 43,000 students and 15,000 employees, nearly 137,000 alumni in Arizona and 84 UA startups in Arizona, the societal, workforce and economic impact of our university is great, and the entire state is closely tied to its success. We are committed to partnering with our business community to meet workforce needs by aligning our degree output and research and innovation outcomes with the needs of Arizona. As the strategic plan process moves forward, our success will depend upon the ingenuity, collaboration and participation from every part of our UA community and from the larger business and industrial communities in Arizona. One of the reasons I was excited to come to the UA was its incredible potential to do for Southern Arizona what Stanford and other universities in the Bay Area have done for Silicon Valley. Catalyzing on the “place” where we live to produce innovative science, novel research, service-oriented citizens and to drive innovation and commercialization will translate into benefits for humankind. We are continuing to engage our stakeholders to gain insight and data and will soon be transitioning into Phase II of the strategic plan process where we will begin to define our primary institutional pillars and supporting initiatives. I encourage you to visit our website,, to share input and find information about opportunities to participate. We look forward to updating you on our progress in subsequent issues of BizTucson over the course of the next year. I am consistently energized and inspired by the passion of the Wildcat community throughout our state and am grateful for your continued collaboration and support.