Strategic Plan Chapter5.html

Achieving Distinction 2000:

A Strategic Plan For The University Of Iowa

Chapter 5: Institutional Strategies

This chapter contains a short list of institutional-level strategies, ones for which primary responsibility for implementation lies with the central administration. These strategies are designed to shape selected features of the University's environment and have broad positive effects that cut across most of the seven University goals. Each strategy is a response to particularly important opportunities or challenges posed by the environment of the University. In some cases, these institutional-level strategies are the source of resources for the goal-specific strategies of the next chapter. This list of major institutional strategies takes into account both the University's environment and long-term aspirations and goals during the next five years.
I. Develop an enrollment management system to meet quality and diversity objectives while maintaining access for all qualified Iowa students. Continue efforts to create a more diverse, high quality, national and international student body by vigorous and broader recruitment of students to achieve these aims: (a) enroll more Iowa students who are in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, (b) maintain the proportion of out-of-state students at approximately 40 percent with broad geographic and ethnic representation including more undergraduate international students, and (c) increase the proportion of U. S. ethnic minorities to at least 10 percent. Strengthen the capacity of academic and nonacademic units (e.g., student services) to serve the needs of a more diverse student body. Identify and control the factors that influence students' decisions to enroll in and to complete degree programs in a timely manner through improved financial aid, student services, and academic advising.
The University of Iowa has made strong gains in the diversity and quality of its student body but must continue this effort as a central priority over the next five years. This strategy will raise the quality of education for all students and enhance the national and international stature of the institution. A more diverse University community will expose students to the heterogeneity of viewpoint and background important for living in the modern world. Given the small minority population of Iowa and the accelerating growth of the minority population of the nation, a diverse student body is of special importance to the quality of the undergraduate educational experience at the University. As a long-term goal, the University seeks proportional minority enrollments that fall about midway between minority representation in Iowa and national populations.
Implementing this strategy will require continued student recruitment efforts both within and outside the state and the support of external constituencies for an appropriately broad representation of out-of-state students, including international students. Under the current demographic circumstances, as long as the needs of Iowa students are met, the University should maintain the current mix of in-state and out-of-state students. Increasing the proportion of undergraduate students from other countries will enhance awareness of global perspectives and complement other efforts to increase cultural diversity. Issues and resources related to enrolling more international undergraduate students are considered by the Committee on International Programs' strategic plan.
Student financial aid, a complex and changing issue, is a vital component of enrollment management and must be integrated with efforts to attract a diverse, high quality student body. Institutional sources are an increasing component of financial aid while federal sources are decreasing and families are committing a larger proportion of their incomes to financing higher education. The major goal in allocating financial aid funds has been and should continue to be insuring access to the University for as many qualified students as possible. In order to promote quality and diversity, more scholarships based solely on merit, or a combination of need and merit, should be considered. In addition, greater investment in the Honors Program, the Undergraduate Scholar Assistant (USA) Program, and the Presidential Scholars Program is recommended along with reinstatement of the Deans Scholar Program.
The Strategic Planning Committee recommends that the University pursue a more active enrollment management policy. Closer coordination and cooperation among the existing University offices that deal with admissions and student services, under the direction of the Office of the Provost, will improve the effectiveness of enrollment management. Individual colleges should specify optimum program size and enrollment goals consistent with the resources available to maintain quality.
II. Maintain the current student and staffing levels and the present size of the physical plant, but closely examine the distribution of resources across colleges and programs to improve the match between student demands and instructional resources. Use institutional resources to recruit the highest quality new faculty and staff and to retain the most productive members of the current faculty and staff.
Experience over the past two decades strongly suggests that the present enrollment of 27,000 is about the limit for maintaining quality education within the context of the University's current human and physical resources. Growth of a few hundred students, evenly distributed over University programs, would probably not seriously impair quality, but it is clear that an increase of a thousand students or more (as demonstrated during the late 1980's) strains physical resources, limits access to classes, and delays graduation. If large enrollment increases were to occur, they would have to be matched with increases in classroom and residence space, teaching faculty, and student-service staff to maintain access and quality in instructional programs.
The University has made significant gains in improving student-faculty ratios over the past five years, through growth in faculty numbers, decreases in enrollments, and greater commitment of faculty effort to undergraduate instruction. Further improvements require more faculty and/or redistribution of faculty to areas of highest student demand. It is clear that the most serious difficulties in meeting student needs in terms of class availability, class sizes, and faculty supervision occur as a result of shifts in relative popularity of particular majors or disciplines. Although the University has some mechanisms for adjusting to changing demands, they are often slow and depend on the pace of retirements and resignations. The University should improve means of making rapid adjustments, both within and across colleges, such as appropriate use of flexible assignments, cross-listing of courses, joint appointments, and temporary appointments.
If the University is to be successful in its "Top Ten" aspiration, it must hire and retain the best faculty. Hiring distinguished faculty at the senior level is expensive, but it must be done in critical situations in order to maintain quality in distinguished programs or to provide key leadership to push emerging programs to a higher level of achievement. Even more critical is the need to identify and retain the very best faculty at Iowa. University resources should be allocated in carefully selected instances to retain the most distinguished and productive faculty members-a policy that is often more economical than losing top faculty and hiring replacements. Increasing the number of named chairs and professorships is one way to recognize and support outstanding faculty.
III. Develop a high performance, unified, University-wide electronic communications infrastructure. As rapidly as possible, the University should complete the fiber-optic "backbone" network, establish technical standards for services, coordinate management of all electronic communication systems, and provide access to the University community with appropriate instructional support.
The immediate availability of state-of-the-art, integrated electronic communications will have a great impact on all the missions of the University. Instruction, research, service to the state, internal business operations, cost savings, and efficiency can all be improved by a uniform base of coordinated communication services. These include voice, video, data, and telemetry services with full interconnectivity throughout the UI campus and linkage to the Iowa Communications Network and world-wide networks. The first step-completion of the "backbone" fiber-optic network connecting primary locations-is now underway, but much more needs to be done. Many buildings require rewiring. Terminals and computers must be updated or added and classroom facilities modernized. An institution-wide information architecture must be developed and implemented, and management of the vast array of services, technical standards, and financial support must be updated. In particular, support for training faculty, staff, and students in new skills will be essential to the successful implementation of a comprehensive communications system. It is vital that the University obtain continued state support for rapid implementation of a modern communications infrastructure.
The establishment of a high performance information network will lead to other communications improvements by facilitating information gathering, exchange of ideas, and coordination of services and planning. Use of electronic bulletin boards, e-mail, file transfer, data banks, and other features of modern computer-based communication systems aids students, scholars, and staff in their daily activities. Only if the University is fully connected electronically will its resources be available to the citizens of the state for education and services. As members of the University community develop the necessary new technological skills, they will gain access to new tools for their work and learning.
IV. Improve support for the professional development of faculty and staff by (a) strengthening the capacity of departments and programs to support teaching, research, and service activities of faculty and staff; (b) maintaining a strong and vital Developmental Assignment program; and (c) improving recognition of the contributions of faculty and staff.
In the highly competitive era of the 1990s, there is a need not only to recruit outstanding faculty and staff but also to develop active measures to retain them. In order to improve retention, raise morale, reduce recruitment costs, and increase performance, the University must develop sufficient resources to enable all its faculty and staff to develop their potential to the fullest. Some of the measures may be symbolic (e.g., recognizing the accomplishments of more persons by expanding award programs); some would involve greater support for improved working conditions and professional activities (e.g., the infrastructure of departments); others would require the targeting of funds for specific professional-development activities (e.g., travel to professional meetings and tuition assistance for staff members). This strategy responds, in part, to the erosion of certain forms of support over the last 15 years due to repeated budgetary reversions from which the University still has not recovered. It calls for a balance between hiring distinguished persons from elsewhere and assisting current faculty and staff in their efforts to reach their potential.
This 1989 strategy is repeated here, with little change, because it is the one which appears to have been the least fully implemented over the past five years, even though the need for more support for professional development has grown and become even more obvious. Indeed, with noteworthy exceptions, recognition of staff and faculty accomplishments has become pro forma and the Developmental Assignment program has supported fewer faculty projects in recent years. Even while faculty members have committed more of their efforts to instruction, support for teaching in the form of general expense budgets, library materials, teaching and laboratory assistants, and classroom facilities has stagnated. The lack of professional travel funds has raised obstacles to academic advancement; increases are necessary if the University is to achieve its "Top Ten" aspiration. Travel funds support continuing professional education, recruitment of future faculty members and students, visibility and recognition of Iowa scholars, and the impact of Iowa views on national and international issues and policies. The University needs a coordinated program of professional development that would include acquisition of contemporary computer and management skills, the upgrading of disciplinary knowledge, and continued improvement of effective teaching skills. The proposed Center for Teaching offers a potential contribution to developing and enhancing professional skills; it should be implemented as soon as possible and monitored for effectiveness. Another program that should be expanded is the awarding of Instructional Computing Funds to support development of computer materials for classroom use.
V. Use the "Criteria for Institutional Enhancements and Reductions" to reallocate resources and create funds for responding to innovative proposals, raising quality, and generating flexible resources.
In today's competitive climate, strategy of focus in academic programs is essential, even for the largest universities. As an institution smaller than most of its peers, The University of Iowa must decide which programs and subprograms it can support at a high level of quality and which programs it must leave for other institutions. In a process of continuous program review, now in place throughout the University, hard decisions must be made about the allocation of resources. The absence of flexible monies in the colleges and in the central administration seriously hampers the ability of the institution to respond to special opportunities and innovative proposals. This strategy is designed to encourage faculty, staff, and students with ideas and proposals to put them forward for consideration and also ensure that they come to the attention of both collegiate and central administrators.
The Strategic Planning Steering Committee has developed "Criteria for Institutional Enhancements and Reductions" (see Appendix C); the present Strategic Planning Committee recommends vigorous application of the Criteria. The intent of the Criteria is to focus the limited resources of the University and to raise the quality of its programs through a process of review and revision. Overall, this strategy takes account of the fact that a significant amount of the money to implement plans at the University and collegiate levels will have to come from internal sources. With the application of this strategy, two purposes will be served: (a) the highest quality programs can be maintained and emerging programs can receive resources that will enhance their quality and move them into the top ranks, and (b) lagging programs can be eliminated, consolidated, or downsized to free resources for stronger programs and new initiatives. One recent example of the application of this strategy is the initiation of the Central Investment Fund for Research Enhancement (CIFRE) system in the Office of the Vice President for Research, permitting flexible awards to the most outstanding proposals.
VI. To rebuild and improve core resources and the infrastructure over the next five years, give priority among state funding requests to University libraries, information technology, equipment for teaching and research, and the physical infrastructure.
The financial needs of the University Libraries continue to be a paramount concern among all members of the University community, impacting both instruction and scholarship. Library resources and staffing are an important indicator of institutional ranking; the 20-year decline in Association of Research Libraries rankings must be reversed if the University of Iowa is to make progress toward its "Top Ten" aspiration. Consequently, a significant increase in the base budget of the University Libraries remains a priority. Support for information technology, detailed in Strategy III, complements Library support as well as facilitating many other aspects of the University.
Because the pace of capital additions to the University is slower now than during the past two decades, it is timely to use capital funds to eliminate the backlog of deferred maintenance and to improve the quality of classroom facilities throughout the campus. (The opening of the Pappajohn Business Administration Building has served to highlight the need to upgrade existing classrooms.) Upgrading existing facilities also provides an opportunity to serve several other goals such as improving access for persons with disabilities, increasing safety, and conserving energy. The University has made onsiderable progress in these areas over the past five years, but it must continue to emphasize this strategy to avoid loss of momentum.
VII. Strive to develop a climate of process review and continuous improvement in the quality and efficiency of University services, both academic and non-academic, by establishing methods of gathering information, reviewing costs, receiving suggestions, and recommending changes within each first-level planning unit.
Over time, any large organization accumulates inefficiencies and unnecessary requirements that require periodic examination and challenge. Students, staff, and faculty often raise questions about the continued need for certain pieces of paperwork or for program requirements; they sometimes have suggestions for cost savings. As we move to greater use of electronic communication and data bases, are there changes in our record-keeping or management practices that we should implement? Should some functions be decentralized or, alternatively, can scattered services be collected in a single office with cost savings or improvement in quality? As we examine academic programs for quality and focus, we should also examine our management and service offices for improvements.
The challenge is how to implement a process of examination and evaluation, using knowledge and suggestions from all members of the University community to enhance the quality and efficiency of the services we provide to each other. The best method of proceeding is likely to vary from one unit to another, but we call on each division of the University to develop a process of quality and cost review. While recognizing that most University units are understaffed, we believe it is possible to use the experience and creativity of faculty, staff, and students to improve the functioning of all offices. We recommend that each first-level planning unit report on quality improvements and cost savings as part of its annual strategic planning progress reports.
VIII. Examine the academic and administrative structure of colleges, including the positioning of departments within colleges, for improved efficiency, communication among academic units, and responsiveness to educational needs.
Colleges, departments, and nondepart-mentalized programs, units, and services are reviewed on a regular basis throughout the University. Self-studies and reviews of individual units may raise questions about reorganization, but it is difficult to act on such suggestions because other departments or units that may be affected by reorganization are not reviewed simultaneously. At present, the University has no process in place for reviewing the overall structure of its academic programs at the same time. Examining the total set of academic units and programs can revitalize needed collaborations and prune nonfunctional relationships maintained only for historical reasons.
A systematic review of the overall academic structure of the University should be undertaken periodically. During the past five years, the central administration of the University has been reorganized; in the current planning cycle, an examination of collegiate and departmental structures appears timely. Questions to be examined should include the placement of programs in appropriate colleges, the need to phase out some programs or initiate new ones, consolidation of small units or division of large ones, and the relationships between colleges and departments that support shared or joint programs. Is the present location of departments and programs within colleges optimal? Should one or more colleges be restructured? Are the connections among colleges functioning optimally? Do present departmental structures appropriately represent scholarly disciplines and use resources effectively to educate students at all levels? Are the present structures the best ones to support faculty research and scholarship?
IX. Enhance the University's external relationships and visibility with its various constituencies.
Universities are becoming increasingly accountable to their external constituencies which range from alumni to governmental agencies. As private funding, through both individual donations and corporate research support, has become a larger proportion of The University of Iowa's resources, so too have the demands for responsiveness escalated. The University must continue to explore innovative ways of building and strengthening ties to its many constituencies if we are to respond to the needs of our external audiences and increase opportunities for financial support and cooperation with the private sector. As part of that effort, the University should increase its emphasis on alumni relations and UI Foundation fund-raising activities, while encouraging expanded student and faculty contacts with the business community for the furtherance of employment and research opportunities.
The University, through all members of the UI community, must listen to and speak to many publics. It is clear that the University enjoys wide-spread public support and admiration throughout the state and the region, but many members of the diverse constituencies that we serve either do not understand all of our many missions, or disagree with the priorities that we set. Therefore, it is our continuing responsibility to provide more information, to show how our efforts serve all citizens, and to cooperate with other educational and service organizations in the state. We must increase the effectiveness of our outreach and communications efforts at all levels of the University, by making even more coordinated use of departmental and collegiate newsletters and such instituitional channels as the Office of State Relations, the University radio stations, and the facilities of University Relations and The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics' office of public affairs. We must listen carefully to the concerns of all Iowans, acknowledging their investment in the advancement of The University of Iowa.
X. Examine the consequences of health care reform for the University with particular attention to the health science colleges and The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Encourage additional cooperative agreements to insure adequate patient referral and actions to coordinate educational programs across the health colleges.
While the direct impact of changes in the health care system falls primarily on the UI health colleges and The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the entire University will be affected by modifications in funding, service delivery, and patient referral. All members of the community must become better informed about reform proposals and recognize the consequences for local institutions and units. There are uncertainties about how educational programs in the health science colleges will be funded, how an adequate patient flow will be maintained, and how the administration and provision of health care will be structured in the future. A major change in administrative structure, grouping the health science colleges and the health care units under a Vice President for Health Sciences, has enhanced the University's ability to cope with health care reform. We endorse the new arrangement and urge the entire University community to become knowledgeable about the health care reform movement. Administrative officials must continue their efforts to position the UI to the best advantage in a rapidly changing environment and to explore new health care options for the University community.
XI. Develop proposals for more extensive use of the Oakdale Research Campus.
The use of the Oakdale Campus, as a site for programs supporting technology transfer and as a home for selected academic research and service units, has grown over the past two decades, but there exists the potential for even greater use of this land asset. At a time when there is not much unused land on the main campus, room for future development is available at Oakdale. A master plan for the physical development of land and infrastructure on the Oakdale Campus has been prepared and approved. In consultation with pro-spective users and community groups, relevant administrators should prepare a programmatic vision for Oakdale analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of an Oakdale location and identifying University programs that might flourish there.


Eleven institutional strategies are recommended for implementation over the next five years. In some cases, these strategies continue efforts started five years ago; others represent new initiatives. A few require allocation of additional financial resources; others require only the will to carry out the proposed recommendations. Many of the strategies complement or support recommendations from first-level planning units; others represent challenges to the first-level units to coordinate their efforts with University-wide strategies. All will require support and leadership from the central administration. All, we believe, will significantly benefit the University.

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Last updated on July 17, 1995 by Campus Communications