Arizona’s World-Class University: The Transformation Ahead

The time has come to take bold action. . .
President Robert Shelton, September 2008

It’s no longer a luxury to think about transformation. . . .  it’s a necessity.
Professor Wanda Howell, Chair of the Faculty, September 2008

The University of Arizona strives to achieve the highest quality programs in a highly dynamic environment. Therefore, the institution must be able to move expeditiously to take advantage of new opportunities and maximize efficiency. In this context, it may be useful for academic units within the University to re-examine their organizational structure. . . .
Approved by Faculty Senate 2002, Revised April 7, 2008

The University of Arizona Transformation Plan is based on the shared recognition that bold leadership is needed to consolidate and realign programs to adapt to dynamic changes in resources and priorities.  The Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee established criteria for making decisions on reorganizations:

  • Centrality to mission and priorities of the university;
  • Quality of research, teaching, and outreach;
  • Productivity in educational offerings and research, scholarship, and creative activities;
  • Efficiency of unit’s operations; and
  • Demand for the graduates, knowledge, and programs of the unit.

The University of Arizona Transformation Plan builds on principles and procedures established by the Faculty Senate to ensure broad input on clearly justified reforms to increase effectiveness in a time of diminished resources.  The guidelines for approving and implementing the transformation plans will follow:

  1. SPBAC Recommended Guidelines for Academic Program Prioritization [PDF], and
  2. Guidelines for Reorganization Proposals from the Faculty Senate. [PDF]

Toward that end, the University of Arizona Transformation Plan sets out a three-phase process for engaging the university community in a coordinated deliberation on possible mergers and reorganizations this fall:

  1. In September, the Proposal Development Phase was initiated by President Shelton’s September 3 memo, “Advancing Arizona’s World-Class University.”  Provost Hay has asked various groups to begin developing initial proposals for merging departments and other units.  Deans are developing 3-4 page “white paper” proposals for merging departments and programs, but proposals can also be independently submitted by departments and programs considering consolidation or reorientation.  Four intercollegiate teams are also developing proposals for consolidations in the liberal arts, area studies, health-related fields, and science, technology, and engineering units.  All proposals are to include input from faculty, students, and staff.
  2. By October 13th, White Paper Proposals need to be submitted to the Provost’s Office; the format for the proposals will be available on the Provost’s Website in the next week. Broad input at this formative phase is critical to ensuring the effectiveness of individual proposals and the entire process.  Formal feedback will be provided by a subcommittee of SPBAC and other leadership groups.  The Transformation Coordinating Committee in the Provost’s Office will provide support in helping contributors to consider five crucial elements of proposals: the effects on students, on faculty, on staff, on business practices, and on external relations.  Proposals may be revised, revamped, and rejected in this phase of the process, and alternatives will also emerge.
  3. In November, Full Proposals will be developed for submission to the Provost, and then in December to the Faculty Senate.  These full proposals will cover these required elements:
    • The background for the need, change, and outcomes;
    • Details on the specific financial savings expected;
    • Explanation of how the consolidation will strengthen the unit’s teaching, service, and scholarship, research, or creative activities; and
    • Justification of the consolidation in light of the strategic needs and priorities of the university.

The Full Proposals will be reviewed by the Provost’s Office, and then submitted to the Faculty Senate by December 15, 2008.