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Academic Plan approved by Trustees

by Karen A. Grava - September 29, 2008


The Board of Trustees on Sept. 23 unanimously approved a new academic plan that is an ambitious road map for UConn’s future, outlines where resources will be dedicated, and relies heavily on collaboration among departments and disciplines and between UConn and the public and private sector.

The plan, developed through broad consultation and analyses that have taken place over the past year, was presented to the trustees by Provost Peter J. Nicholls, who emphasized the plan’s reliance on interdisciplinary research.

“It isn’t a wish list – the plan is a set of strategic steps we can take to help us realize our potential as one of the nation’s premier public research universities and as the state’s flagship land grant university,” says University President Michael J. Hogan. “These steps involve strategic reallocation of our existing resources and distribution of any new resources to areas of core strength and potential excellence, areas that also contribute to the state’s economic and workforce development.”

Nicholls said the plan and the process through which it was developed represent a systematic approach to plotting our strategies for taking UConn to the next level as one of the nation’s premier public research institutions: “The goals and strategies will guide how we invest our resources, and the metrics included in the plan will allow us and the public to track our progress in achieving the goals articulated in the plan.”

Every department in the University will have the ability to contribute to the plan, Nicholls added. “The goals are achievable, but we will have to work extremely hard to meet them.”

Some of the goals set, to be reached by 2014, include:

  • improve UConn’s national ranking in U.S. News & World Report from number 26 to number 20 among public institutions;
  • raise the SAT scores of admitted freshmen from 1200 this year to 1220;
  • improve the retention rate for first-year students from 93 percent to 95 percent and the six-year graduation rate from 74 percent to 78 percent;
  • increase the number of classes with less than 20 students from 44 percent to 47 percent;
  • increase the size of the Honors Program from 290 students to 550;
  • increase the number of graduate and professional programs ranked in the top 25 among public institutions from nine to 14;
  • decrease the median time to earn a master’s degree from three years to two years, and a Ph.D. degree from six years to 5.5 years;
  • increase the number of doctoral degrees awarded per 100 faculty members from 19 to 23;
  • recruit 145 new faculty members;
  • grow external research expenditures per faculty member from $90,000 to $100,000;
  • increase the number of books, articles in refereed journals, patent applications, and participation in juried shows and curated exhibits;
  • increase the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty from underrepresented groups from 8 percent to 13 percent, and the number of international graduate and professional students from 17 percent to 22 percent;
  • enhance the number of fine and performing arts events on and off campus from 1,000 to 1,200, increase consultancies to public and private sector organizations from 941 to 1,100, and increase outreach programs to schools and businesses from 449 to 550; and
  • grow the market value of the endowment from $316 million to $505 million, and the alumni giving rate from 21 percent to 25 percent.

The plan also includes provisions for closing programs that do not sustain high levels of demand, address workforce needs, have potential for national and international prominence, produce outstanding graduate or professional students who can compete successfully for fellowships, tenure-track positions, and post-doctoral positions, provide visionary leadership, or have the potential to generate extramural funding or contribute in concrete ways to the strategies outlined in the plan.

The plan, “Our World, Our People and Our Future” has six goals:

  • Engage undergraduates in an intellectually challenging and diverse learning environment;
  • Sustain and develop select graduate and professional programs of national and international distinction;
  • Enhance UConn’s contributions to the state, nation, and world;
  • Ensure a diverse community that recognizes and celebrates individual differences;
  • Collaborate with partners in the public and private sectors;
  • Establish administrative, infrastructural, and budget systems designed to efficiently realize the goals of the plan.

The six goals and 23 strategies outlined in the plan will guide the University in investing its resources, Nicholls said. “The plan recognizes the challenging fiscal times and changing demographics that affect higher education, assumptions that have been incorporated into the plan through an environmental scan.

“To the extent the environment changes,” he added, “we may need to make adjustments to the plan.”

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