Engagement timeline

Throughout the strategic planning process, stakeholder groups have had opportunities to voice their ideas and to contribute to the plan for the University’s next decade. The engagement activities to date include:

triangleFebruary 2009: Proenza launches strategic planning process with open forum

UA President Dr. Luis Proenza held open forums on March 2 to formally launch the yearlong strategic planning process. Proenza chronicled the successes that followed the Charting the Course strategic plan, which was implemented shortly after Proenza’s arrival at UA in 1999. There were 600 participants comprised of faculty, contract professional, staff, and students. You can watch the Q&A from the kickoff sessions on the Strategic Planning Web site.

triangleMarch: Online site opens to discussion of plan priorities

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee opened a discussion board to allow members of the university community to give their opinions about UA’s strengths, challenges and future direction.

UA President Dr. Luis Proenza makes a point during a forum for students in April in the Polsky Building.

triangleApril: 300 participate in creativity and innovation workshop

About 300 students, faculty, staff and contract professionals participated in a creativity and innovation workshop presented by the Disney Institute. 

On the Strategic Planning Discussion Board, one participant noted afterward: “Along with the UA brand, the facilitators presented the idea of staying true to the UA story.  Stories are more engaging than data and are likely to have more meaning to potential students. Everyone who works for UA should be able to tell the UA story. We can then verify that our projects and initiatives resonate with our story and use it as a tool to resolve internal debates.”

triangleApril: Chancellor Fingerhut gives view from Columbus

Each of Ohio's 14 state universities should strive to be the best in the world in one area, said Chancellor Eric Fingerhut during an April visit to campus, during which he met with the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. Achieving, this, he said, would draw top students, teachers and researchers to Ohio, and lead to the creation of new jobs and new businesses that would fuel the state's economy.

Under the University System of Ohio's strategic plan, Fingerhut aims to build on historical strengths at each university to create global Centers of Excellence.

Disney event participants

Participants talk during the creativity and innovation workshop in April.

"I'm not so interested in what Akron can be best at in the region or state," he said. "I am interested in what you can be best at in the world."

triangleApril: Proenza hears students’ view of UA’s future

In late April, President Proenza made stops across campus to talk with students about their vision for UA. Riding the Roo Express, Proenza made stops at the Recreation and Wellness Center, Rob's Cafe, the Polsky Building, the Student Union and Hattie's Café.

Students’ questions and comments were logged and will be reviewed by the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. About 350 students participated in the process. Students discussed parking, safety, educational quality and student life. See a full list of recurring questions.

triangleMay: Faculty members describe their vision during focus groups

During a series of focus groups held throughout May, faculty members described their perception of the University and offered their take on what UA should aspire to by the year 2020.

Subsequent focus groups were held for deans, department chairs, staff and contract professionals. In all, about 70 employee participated in these in-depth discussions.

Topics discussed:

  1. Strengths at UA
  2. Challenges at UA
  3. Innovative Culture at UA
  4. What is the university's mission?
    1. UA Mission will be posted on TV screen
    2. Should it be Research? Teaching? Access? Service, sometimes referred to as "engagement" or "community relevancy" or something else?
    3. What do you think "Access" means?
  5. President Proenza's Six Goals for the Future of UA
  6. Future Vision for UA
Nancy Zimpher

Dr. Nancy Zimpher

triangleMay: UC president offers insights

Dr. Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York and former president of the Universtiy of Cincinnati, met with the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and other campus representatives to discuss the role of urban-serving universities.

The discussion was an extension of her address at the University Park Awards Luncheon, held earlier in the day and attended by civic and business leaders, community members, faculty members, students, staff and contract professionals.

Approximately 80 people engaged in a lively discussion and offered their views on university engagement as modeled through University Park. Topics included safety, transportation, entertainment venues, physical bridges between campus and University Park, parking issues and other important topics. See the feedback report.

triangleJune: Author Ronald G. Ehrenberg addresses forum

Ron Ehrenberg

Author Ron Ehrenberg during a strategic planning forum June 3 in the Student Union.

Ronald G. Ehrenberg, author of “Tuition Rising,” lead a discussion with 80 people about the most pressing issues facing public research universities on Wednesday, June 3 in the Student Union. The author also discussed how universities can address these issues.

Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, has written and lectured extensively about the financial challenges and opportunities facing major research universities. Ehrenberg is also The Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics and the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University.

In addition, Ehrenberg engaged in a work session with the Strategic Planning Steering Committee over these and other questions:

  • Based on your research and knowledge, what advice would you give a university as it develops its strategic plan for the next 10 years?
  • What are your recommendations to UA as Ohio launches a state system of higher education?
  • What have been your lessons learned – in a leadership position within a university within a state system, and as a board member for a state system?

See feedback from the Ehrenberg presentation.

Pepicello at UA

Dr. William Pepicello, president of the University of Phoenix, describes the school's business model.

triangleAugust: University of Phoenix president discusses for-profit model

William J. Pepicello, president of the University of Phoenix, discussed how his company sees the higher education landscape 10 years out during a presentation on campus Aug. 20.

Close to 130 people attended, including contract professionals, faculty, staff and students.

"The nature of students and our ability to serve them is changing rapidly," he said.

For instance, he talked about how Phoenix is adjusting to meet the needs of this generation of college students, many of whom are not as well prepared for college as their parents. 

Pepicello said 26 percent of undergraduate students fit the traditional college student profile. The  University of Phoenix targets the remaining 73 percent, who are often older adults who are working full or part time, and juggling additional demands on their time. See Pepicello's presentation and read comments from those who attended.

triangleSeptember: Arizona State President Dr. Michael Crow speaks

Dr. Michael Crow from Arizona State University

Dr. Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University, speaks at Quaker Square during a strategic planning session in September.

Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State, met with over 100 participants on Sept. 16 to discuss his experience serving as president of 67,082-student university.

In this position he is guiding the transformation of ASU into one of the nation's leading public metropolitan research universities, one that is directly engaged in the economic, social, and cultural vitality of its region. See Crow's presentation and read the feedback from the participants who discussed Crow's points afterward.


1. Dr. Crow defines the New American University has having eight essential elements:

Leverage Our Place
Transform Society
Value Entrepreneurship
Conduct Use-Inspired Research
Enable Student Success
Fuse Intellectual Disciplines
Be Socially Embedded
Engage Globally

Are these essential elements applicable to UA as we plan for our future? Are there other essential elements that should help define our strategic vision for the future?

2. Dr. Crow suggests that differentiation rather than replication leverages a university's contributions to their regional economy. What are UA's differentiations and how do they impact our community economic and social well-being?

3. How relevant is ASU's entrepreneurial model for UA as we plan for our future? How would you define an entrepreneurial university? Where are there pockets of entrepreneurship at UA? What are the barriers to entrepreneurship at UA? What is needed to create an innovation ecosystem at UA?

triangleOctober: Draft of the strategic plan is released

President Proenza sends a message to campus, announcing the posting of the first draft of the strategic plan and inviting faculty, staff and contract professionals to one of several campus conversations planned.

"Our goal has been to craft a plan that reflects our collective vision and wisdom, sets aspirational yet attainable goals, and positions us as a driver of economic development and educational attainment, so that we ultimately capture our rightful destiny," the president said in his message to campus. 

 2010 and 2011

In 2010-11, four speakers were invited to campus to help us think about the implementation of the emerging strategic plan.

Dr. Roger Geiger, distinguished professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University, has published extensively on universities and economic development and on the future of the American public research university. See Geiger's presentation.

Dr. David Perry, director of the Great Cities Institute and professor of urban planning and policy in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, visited in March 2010. View Perry's presentation.

Dr. Robert Barnhill, professor emeritus and former vice president for research at Arizona State University, also spoke on campus in March 2010. See Barnhill's presentation. Read a summary of the small-group discussions that followed Barnhill's presentation.

Dr. James Samels, founder and CEO of The Education Alliance, spoke in October 2011 about future directions and innovations in higher education, especially within the context of the University System of Ohio and emerging initiatives such as Enterprise Universities. See the presentation.