ACROSS THE COMMONS > Spring 2011 issue

 

Greater focus on big-picture 'integrated planning'

Anticipating a challenging state budget this year, we have increased our commitment to integrated planning, a move that is influencing decision making in such areas as enrollment, compensation and retention practices.

Integrated planning is such an important priority for our University that it is goal six of Vision 2020, the strategic plan for the next decade. Integrated planning is an enabler for all of the other Vision 2020 goals and priorities and a mechanism for University-wide success.

Examples include:

  • Our Enrollment Roadmap discussions are being driven by institutional capacity conversations. For instance, we are working with the deans to increase the number of full-time faculty in the classroom, thereby “right-sizing” the number of part-time instructors needed to meet teaching responsibilities.
  • Integrated planning compels us to plan to compensate faculty, staff and administrators using internal and external benchmarks. Compensation therefore is an ongoing component of the integrated budget planning process and is not residual in nature.
  • The Environment for Teaching, Learning and Research Work Group (one of the Provost’s three work groups) is reviewing all available University space — classrooms, labs and common areas — to determine whether we are using it effectively and efficiently.
  • Faculty members are sharing ideas about how UA can be more effective and efficient by in-sourcing projects. Foremost, this will yield cost savings, but it will benefit faculty and students (undergraduates and graduates) by providing professional experiences and opportunities for research and publication.
  • College-level discussions are taking place to determine how we can gain scale and increase resources by realigning our academic disciplines with the knowledge that money saved through efficiencies will be returned to the academic core – our colleges.
  • The reorganization of administrative units, including the Office of Academic Affairs, is being pursued to more effectively enable student success and align with Vision 2020.
  • Ideas for revenue enhancements are a priority; however, integrated planning suggests that one of our biggest opportunities for revenue enhancement is the retention and success of our current students. Conversations are centered on providing wrap-around services for students, creating a student passport to success, reviewing tuition differentiation models and providing scholarships that align with market-driven career availability. One of the very first steps taken to support this objective was the hiring of 12 additional academic advisers.
  • To increase collaboration and information sharing among the Finance and Administration division, the colleges and the vice presidents, the Integrated Financial Planning Group has been formed. This group, comprised of the ranking budget-and-finance person from each of the above units, convenes to develop responses related to business and financial matters, to provide advice and feedback on institutional issues associated with business and finance, and to help develop approaches to increase revenue, avoid costs and reduce expenses.

As we enter what will be a challenging budget process over the next several months, integrated planning is no longer just an ideal but a necessity. As an institution, we will be dedicated to enhancing our effectiveness and efficiency, and we will be intentional in how we plan, review and analyze operational practices and strategic priorities.


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 Vision 2020: Strategic planning shifts to 'strategic doing'