Achieving Distinction 2000

Preface

This is a strategic plan for The University of Iowa, applicable to the 1995-2000 period. The present plan is a revised and updated version of the 1989 plan that was followed during the 1990-1994 period. As with the previous plan, its most fundamental purpose is to raise the quality of The University of Iowa above its current solid level by increasing focus throughout the University. Achieving this purpose depends on the active support of faculty, staff, and students, the exhortation of University faculty and administration leaders, encouragement from the Board of Regents, and the assent of citizens and governmental officials of Iowa. If successful, the state of Iowa will have a public university with more focus and with programs comparable in quality to those found among the best ten public universities in the nation.
This revised strategic plan builds on seven years of previous effort by prior committees with substantial involvement from the University community. Over the past year, the present Strategic Planning Committee has met with many faculty, staff, and student leaders, solicited and received comment from the University community, held public forums, and consulted with experts in all facets of the operation of The University of Iowa. The present plan deliberately maintains the format, the planning process, and much of the content of the original plan. Modifications of Achieving Distinction are largely the consequence of progress made since the first plan was introduced, or a result of changes in the environment in which the University operates. Much of the planning committee's effort was placed in revising the environmental report (see Appendix B).
Although there are extensive, detailed changes in specific strategies, changes in aspirations and institutional goals are modest. The present plan strongly reaffirms the long-term aspiration of raising the quality of the University comparable to that of the ten best public universities in the nation and developing national leadership in many educational and research programs. The six institutional goals are retained with some changes in wording and a seventh goal was added, focusing on research and scholarship, to make explicit what had been an implicit emphasis in the original plan. Premier research and scholarship is regarded as a necessary component of realizing our institutional aspiration. Under each goal, every objective and strategy was carefully examined. Objectives were retained, modified, and re-ordered depending on the degree of progress over the past five years, changes in the environment, and other factors. Similarly, many goal-specific strategies were added, deleted, or changed. The seven institutional strategies of Achieving Distinction have expanded to eleven in the present document, reflecting both new challenges and new opportunities for the University.
As with the first plan, the revised plan offers a framework for University decision making, and should be treated as a flexible document that will continue to evolve over the next five-year period. While it is important to maintain the basic course recommended by the plan if it is to have a sufficient chance of success, adjustments and modifications should be made as conditions change, internal and external to the University, and if actions recommended by the plan prove to be ineffective or unjustified. The plan should not be rigid, add significantly to bureaucratic structures, or retard the time it takes to make decisions in departments, colleges, or the central administration. It should encourage change and experimentation while fostering more attention to the strategic issues that relate to day-to-day decisions in the University. In fact, the impact of strategic planning should be to increase the timeliness, efficiency, and coordination of decision making across campus.
As a complement to this University-level plan, each department, college, and administrative office of the University has developed and revised its own plan. Those plans have important status as recommendations to be considered by deans, vice presidents, and other offices to whom the unit reports. The expectation is that departments and colleges in designing and implementing their own future will use this University-level plan as a general guide or reference point. Implementation of most elements within this University plan is clearly contingent on decisions and actions taken in departments, programs, and colleges. These units already have made progress in adapting strategies of the University plan to their particular circumstances, in adding detail and specificity, and in complementing the University plan with new strategies. This process should and will continue. There are many important strategies in the twenty-six plans reviewed by the University Strategic Planning Committee.
The revised plan was prepared by a committee of nineteen persons, including eleven faculty members, one student, five staff members, and two administrators. The committee was as follows: The committee's work was supported by general assistance from Lucille Heitman, editing and consultation by Mary Lynn Grant, charts prepared by Gertrude Nath, and data analysis and tables prepared by Don Szeszycki.