Strategic planning serves a number of purposes. First and foremost, it allows for the explicit stating of principles that bind the community to a sense of purpose. Second, it highlights areas of focus that the University’s faculty and leaders have agreed to address. The completion of a written plan, though, is only the first step in a process of continuous improvement that must be dynamic. Those who develop the plan cannot forecast with confidence all the factors that will influence decision making over the planning period; therefore, University leaders must regularly assess those factors, prepare action plans, and share with the community how their decisions relate to the items targeted in the strategic plan. In addition, colleges and units will develop their own strategic or action plans, and align them with this University-wide plan. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and the Colleges of Dentistry and Education, for example, have already begun this process.
In recent years, restraints on state support for public higher education have driven universities to rely more heavily on tuition for the revenue they need, in turn raising serious concerns about access to higher education and thus about the public purpose of institutions like The University of Iowa. In this uncertain academic economy, it is incumbent on public universities not only to seek new ways to generate revenue but also to find a new formula for reconciling access with excellence. The University will not be able to accomplish all that it wants to; instead, University leaders must focus on what can be done particularly well, while at the same time offering the excellent core programs that all great universities must provide. This will entail difficult choices about the University’s basic priorities and its opportunities for real distinction.
This strategic plan, therefore, does not capture all that the University wants to do; it is meant, instead, as a starting point, given our knowledge of the current environment, from which to focus the University’s efforts and make effective use of its resources. While a growing resource base will hasten progress toward a larger breadth of strategic goals, University leaders are committed to improving performance in strategic areas regardless of changes in the resource base.
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