January 18, 2002 A Strategic Approach to Accomplish the University’s Goals And Its Long Term Success Charles E. Young, President Introduction: As President of the University of Florida for over two years, I have had the good fortune to serve this remarkable university and to do so at a critical time in its history. The state’s major reorganization of its K-20 educational system, the recent budget reductions, and our preparations for the University’s sesquicentennial in 2003 compel me, and should persuade all of us, to weigh thoroughly and thoughtfully the University’s future. The University of Florida has been justifiably recognized as one of the major research universities in the country. While the University has been on a steady ascent since its establishment in Gainesville, most of its national and international reputation has been achieved in just the past twenty-five years. During this same period, I had the privilege of serving as Chancellor at the University of California, Los Angeles. As a result of these experiences on both coasts, I believe I have a good perspective on developments that have shaped higher education during this period, and I believe I have a reasonably good appreciation of the forces that will shape higher education in the twenty-first century. Moreover, with the assistance of faculty, staff, students, deans, vice presidents, alumni, and political leaders, I have also learned a great deal about the dynamics of this state and the aspirations of this University. One thing that has been clear to me since the first day I stepped on this campus is that this University is much better than most education leaders recognize and that it can be even better with the right investments. I believe we are all agreed that the University of Florida is committed to the goal of becoming one of the top ten public research universities, and one of the top twenty universities, public or private, in the United States. The question that resonates is how do we achieve such status. We know, for example, that our sister universities will not be sitting idly by while we implement plans to enhance our national reputation, and we also know that the University is not likely to receive substantially larger state appropriations, relative to our national peers, in the next few years. Each university in this country will, in fact, have to make difficult choices to facilitate its advancement. No university can do everything and be a national and international leader. A clear focus and carefully defined priorities distinguish the best universities in the country from their counterparts. The best universities are also advantaged by careful planning, a commitment to excellence by faculty, staff, alumni, and donors, and by a determination to invest in those university priorities that enhance quality – even when it means saying no to other important constituents and to some innovative ideas. Page 2 While the University of Florida has the ability to achieve its goal of leadership and sustain it over time, this can only be achieved, in my view, if we plan properly, carefully implement our plan, and strategically manage our human, fiscal and physical resources to the best advantage. It is with this goal in mind that I offer the following observations. General Historical Perspective: While many of you certainly know the history of the state and the University of Florida better than I, let me offer some observations that I believe account for the current situation in which we find ourselves. Without question, the recession and the horrific events of September 11th,which no one could have anticipated, have severely affected the resources of this state. The impact of these events is obvious at state airports, hotels, and tourist destinations. The budget reductions that were approved in the recent special legislative session reduced University general revenue funds by $35.6 million. As you well know, the University cannot absorb cuts of this magnitude without it significantly affecting our academic programs. Moreover, with the regular session beginning in January 2002, the University could face additional, recurring budget reductions. Although Florida is an extremely dynamic state and thus in a better situation than many states to bounce back from this recession, it has a relatively small revenue stream which appears insufficient to fund fully all the vital state services that are required of it. As a consequence, even when the economic recovery occurs, the University of Florida is unlikely soon to see sufficient additional resources to overcome the effects of the cuts, let alone provide the resources to accelerate our qualitative growth. Indeed, it is my belief that public universities in general and the University of Florida, in particular, will have to find other resources and use existing resources more strategically to ensure their future success. Because the University of Florida continues to be the number one choice of most of the state’s best high school graduates and because of the dramatic expansion of our graduate programs, we have received additional state resources for our enrollment growth throughout the 1990s. These resources have been a boon to the University and have contributed to the improvement in quality during the past decade. But enrollment growth can be a two-edged sword. In the past decade our undergraduate classes have grown dramatically so that most students have large classes for the first two years, and our upper division classes do not permit the intellectual and academic exchange between faculty and students that we consider vital. We have also had to run classes well into the evening hours to meet the needs of our students. Moreover, faculty is being stretched thin by the need to accommodate our substantial undergraduate population and our rapidly expanding graduate programs. The size of the student body, and the resulting size of the total campus population have severely taxed our existing facilities. Indeed, to continue to grow enrollment at the graduate and graduate professional levels as we have planned, we must, I believe, explore the possibilities and implications of capping, or perhaps even reducing, undergraduate enrollment, at least on the existing campus. Page 3 During this same period, the University has also increased its academic programs and specialties with the same gusto that it grew enrollment. The University of Florida currently ranks among the top five universities in the nation in the number of degrees and programs available to students. Most often these degrees and programs were added for good reasons. Student or state interests demanded it, and the University responded. But the exceedingly large number of programs has stretched our human and financial resources too thin and jeopardized our commitment to excellence. These historical developments are understandable, but will not serve the University well in its quest for national prominence. The rationales, which were sufficient at the time new programs were begun, should now be re-examined in the light of present circumstances. We cannot continue to be all things to all people and achieve greater national and international distinction. Indeed, to do so will require difficult choices by this University. It is for these reasons that I offer this document as a starting point in reassessing our strategic financial and policy decisions. General Criteria for Planning the University of Florida’s Future: To continue to advance the research and teaching mission of the University and to help the University achieve the goals to which we aspire, specifically building UF into a top ten public research university, I am proposing a thoughtful and comprehensive strategic planning process to accomplish these aims. To start the discussion, I believe there are a few principles that should guide us in this effort. First, we must reaffirm certain long-standing principles and adopt a comprehensive approach. The University of Florida has certain obligations as a research intensive, Land-grant University that it must continue to honor. Specifically, the citizens of this state look to the University of Florida to provide high quality instruction and prepare the future leaders of the state and nation, to pursue cutting-edge research that leads to the creation of new knowledge, and, as a land-grant institution, to transfer that research to the public sector in order to address critical state and national needs. These obligations are general ones, but based on the principles of the Morrill Act, which sought to advance society through education in the agricultural and mechanical arts, they are especially compelling for this University. It is clear that these foci must be maintained and strengthened not only to stay true to the principles of the Morrill Act, but also to serve the needs of this complex state. Second, even though the University of Florida must continue to have a comprehensive mission in its obligations to the state and nation, we cannot continue an across-the-board strategy in imposing reductions or in adding resources. This approach ends up weakening the entire organization. We also have an obligation to define the essential functions of this University and to support them in ways that assure excellence. That must be our highest priority. Third, we must proceed by identifying those programs that are central to our mission in collaboration with the Florida Board of Education’s strategic plan for state universities and with our Board of Trustees’ strategic plan for the University of Florida. Page 4 Fourth, we must focus on protecting the quality of our core programs by establishing priorities and providing the necessary resources to build and sustain excellence. A successful university is one that clearly understands what programs are fundamental to its mission and its future and then ensures that those programs are strengthened even in difficult financial periods. At the same time, we must adopt an approach that allows for the continuation of important cognate programs and the creation of new programs that respond to emerging state and societal imperatives. A successful university builds upon excellence and yet also is capable of adjusting to the challenges of a rapidly changing world. Fifth, we have to involve faculty, administrators, and members of the Board of Trustees fully in this process, so that we as a community agree on the goals for the University of Florida and the decisions that will be required to achieve them. In the following section, I offer my own view of what programs are fundamental to any great university and those that are particularly important to this state. In the end, these are the programs that, I believe, need to be supported and protected if we are to achieve our goals. I must add a word of caution to those who pursue this essay beyond this point. What follows are my notions of some of the outcomes that may result from this process. It is meant to stimulate the process. It is, so to speak, a stalking horse against which others will, I am sure, react. I intend to take an active role in this discussion throughout the process. But this strategic planning initiative will be open to all ideas as we seek to set the direction for the University of Florida for the next decade. The Educational Core: At the core of every great university exists a first-rate College of Arts and Sciences. It is in this College that faculty carry on the great traditions of western universities by preparing young men and women as educated citizens and as leaders in society. I have, elsewhere, called it the heart of a university. The academic quality of any university is largely tied to the reputation of the academic disciplines found in its College of Arts and Sciences. At the University of Florida, faculty in the Arts and Sciences teach approximately half the undergraduates of the university. The College provides a rich undergraduate experience in the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and the natural and life sciences, and advanced graduate level work in these disciplines as well for its own students. The College also provides the liberal academic underpinnings for undergraduate students in nearly every other college on this campus. The University relies heavily on educational instruction in the college to advance the writing, critical thinking, and expository skills of students. Without a first-rate College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Florida will not achieve the national prominence it deserves nor will it fulfill its fundamental obligations to the state. However, maintaining this critical core does not mean across the board support for all its programs. Even within the College, there are strengths and weaknesses that need to be assessed for the good of the College and the University. The College must be flexible in renewing and Page 5 enhancing its disciplinary units if it is to remain a leader in research and instruction. How can we ensure that the College continues to be the vital, dynamic academic core of the University? Three other programs at this University perform an equally important role in the educational, research, and service arenas. Two, Agriculture, which includes all of the academic programs in IFAS, and Engineering, are historic components of the land-grant mission of this university. The third is Medicine. Each of these serves the state and nation in critically important ways. And these colleges epitomize the critical interplay of basic and applied research, technology transfer, commercialization, and economic development. If there were a Morrill Act created in this century, it would undoubtedly, include medicine along with “agriculture and the mechanical arts” and medical science would be a central part of the outreach mission. The University of Florida must not only maintain but also enhance the quality of these colleges. Much like Arts and Sciences, however, these academic units would benefit from a close analysis of their programs with an eye toward focusing resources on areas critical to their national reputation, the needs of students, and reputation of the University. How can we ensure that they continue to be dynamic centers of campus life and its research mission and how can we ensure that they continue to advantage the University? Colleges that Have Been Fundamental to the University’s Place in the State and Nation: At the University of Florida, we also have a number of colleges that have played an important role in addressing the needs of the state and advancing its interests. The Colleges of Law and Business Administration certainly fall in this category. Graduates from these colleges have provided important leadership and service to the state and nation for several generations. At one time, every member of the Florida Supreme Court had graduated from the University of Florida, and many business and government leaders in the state had done so as well. It is no coincidence that virtually all of the universities that UF seeks to emulate, except Princeton, have highly regarded Colleges of Law. Through my long observation of these colleges and their graduates, I am convinced that, at their best, they provide at the professional level a curriculum and educational philosophy that builds very successfully on the liberal education of their students, opening the possibilities of a variety of careers and callings outside of the law. In recent years, the state and nation have turned as well to the graduates of its business colleges not only in managing its business enterprises, but also in providing the entrepreneurial talents, which are so important to Florida’s economic advancement. This is especially true of those receiving the MBA, many of whom have a liberal arts background and most of whom have had several years of experience in the business world. We clearly must maintain and strengthen the programs of both these colleges. It may be, however, that some trimming and consolidation can occur at the undergraduate level in Business Administration where resources should probably be focused on strengthening the MBA and PhD programs. And both colleges should focus on areas critical to their mission. Are their other steps we should consider that would advance both colleges and ensure the success of their graduates? Page 6 Colleges Performing Educational Functions That Have Been Historically Important to the University of Florida: The University of Florida also has several colleges that are unique in this state. This is especially true of the Colleges of Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine, which have no counterparts at the other state universities and thus provide a particularly important role in preparing students who can serve the state in these professions. While Pharmacy is not unique to the University of Florida, since FAMU has a program of its own, it should be included in this category because of its importance in preparing this vital group of health professionals for the state. It may be difficult to find efficiencies in these programs but that should not deter us from trying to do so. And we should ask ourselves throughout this process if we are taking the right steps for these units. The College of Nursing, though not unique among state universities, has the strongest program in the state and is the leader in graduate education. It, along with the College of Pharmacy, plays an especially critical role in dealing with the endemic shortage of trained professionals in these fields. We should review the extent to which a nursing program at the undergraduate level offers a unique contribution when all the other SUS institutions offer the same degree, and whether resources invested in the undergraduate program might be better invested in specialized graduate level nursing degrees in the future. Our other colleges have all contributed in significant ways to the reputation of this university and its ability to address state needs in the public and private sectors. Several of these colleges have programs with major national reputations. The College of Journalism and Communications certainly fits this description. It is axiomatic to say that the continued progress of our democratic institutions relies heavily on well-educated media professionals. Such a goal remains fundamental to the UF College of Journalism and Communications. UF’s College has also been a national leader in preparing the leading professionals in these areas and looks to do more of the same in the years ahead. Should the College concentrate its resources more carefully and would it be wise to focus more attention on our graduate programs in this College? Similarly the Colleges of Education, Health Professions, Fine Arts, Design, Construction and Planning, and Health and Human Performance have been great assets to this University in the education of our undergraduates and graduate students and in the development of programs to meet the needs of this state. The College of Education has played a central role in this state in preparing the next generation of teachers and educational leaders. But teacher training, in my view, should be pulled more into the core of the academic enterprise – where content and discipline-based education can be better linked to the subject areas in which teachers have educational responsibilities. This is even more important today when advances in knowledge proliferate at astronomical rates. Every area of K- 12 instruction is now a fully recognized separate discipline. To prepare our K-12 students and the citizenry for the future, our teachers will need to have substantive knowledge in their fields of instruction and they will need to update that knowledge continually throughout their careers. Page 7 Continued support for education courses in education administration, instructional internships, and certain aspects of elementary education will need to be performed by scholars in education. But students at UF should be expected to be experts in the subject areas in which they will teach. In the past decade, the college faculty has placed emphasis on the significance of subject-area preparation for teachers. Now we as a university must assume the same commitment, since the preparation of the next generation of teachers is a responsibility we all share. How can we best achieve this and enhance the contribution of this College in meeting the needs of our public schools? The College of Health Professions has provided a major service role to the state, preparing our students in several important health care areas. However, some of the programs in this college duplicate and/or overlap those in other colleges. There would seem to be the potential for consolidation with other colleges and departments and this should be explored further. Would it make sense to combine the resources of this college with those of other colleges with similar missions and programs? The College of Fine Arts plays a significant role in the general education of our students, the development of creative skills and insights, and an appreciation for the qualities that enrich the human experience. While in other times and other places, the arts have been dealt with through other institutions; in our society they have been an important component of university studies. No one questions the value of the arts to a university education. The questions that most naturally arise when addressing the arts are, in my opinion, where should they be located organizationally, the degree to which they should be focused on general education as opposed to artistic mastery, the number of specialized programs that should be offered, and their relative size in meeting the strategic interest of the UF? These are questions I hope we will examine carefully. Design, Construction and Planning is a newly named college which incorporates the schools of architecture and building construction as well as the departments of interior design, urban planning and development, and landscape architecture. The schools of architecture and building construction are unique to this University in the State of Florida. Each has been critically important in the advancement of these professions and industries in the state. An important question for this college and the university to address has to do with how many of the programs should focus principally on professional training and how such programs should interface with the traditional teaching and research missions of the university? Health and Human Performance is a college that has undergone substantial change here and at other universities over the last several decades. It currently houses several departments that offer programs similar to those in other colleges. As with the College of Health profession, there would appear to be some opportunities to combine and consolidate the number of specializations in this college with those in other units. The Task Ahead: The suggestions for change set forth under the three preceding headings are just that, suggestions. The general process we employ, the priorities we set, and the criteria we apply are, Page 8 however, prescriptive. I propose that we begin immediately with a systematic review of our academic programs. To initiate this process, I will be appointing a Presidential Task Force on the Future of the University of Florida. The Task Force will begin discussions with administrators and faculty on this campus to determine the actions necessary to making the University of Florida a top ten public research university. This Task Force will include representatives from the faculty senate, other members of the faculty, and academic administrators and one member of our Board of Trustees As the Task Force starts its work, it must identify those units that are most critical to the University’s mission and its academic goals. In those colleges that are fundamental to our mission and future goals, we will need to identify ways to develop them more fully. We also will have to decide how we consolidate our resources to invest in the future, how we structure our programs to ensure a high quality educational experience for our undergraduate and graduate students, and how and in what ways we continue to address the needs of our state and nation. This process will require us to concentrate our focus and consolidate existing programs. And yes, in some cases, it may require us to phase out some programs completely. All colleges and programs can benefit from this analysis, and none should fear it. The Task Force will report its recommendations to me, and I will evaluate its findings and recommendations and forward them, along with my own, to the UF Strategic Planning Committee referenced below. Paralleling the work of the Task Force, the Provost’s office will continue its work of assessing the performance of each of our academic programs and determining ways in which limited resources can be more usefully invested in the advancement of this University. The Provost and his staff thus will be an integral part of the strategic planning process, and I have asked the Provost to provide me with ideas on how to align the University's human and fiscal resources with the University's strategic priorities. As with the Task Force, the Provost will submit his reports and recommendations to me. Using these reports as a basis I will prepare a set of recommendations which will be presented, along with the Report of the Task Force, to the to the UF Strategic Planning Committee that has been established by our Board of Trustees. The Board’s Strategic Planning Committee will include members of our Board of Trustees who have been appointed by the Chairman of the Board and several prominent members of our university community recommended by me to the Chairman. The charge for this group will be to develop, based upon the recommendations presented to them, the UF strategic plan within the guidelines promulgated by the FBOE, and present those recommendations to the full Board of Trustees for consideration and action. Finally, I will bolster our efforts by adding the assistance of respected outside consultants with experience in strategic planning to serve, on a limited basis, as an external validation of the process, the timelines and of meaningful outcomes. These individuals include prominent former university presidents and national leaders in research and education to assist us at various stages in this process. While the best universities conduct their own analyses and develop their own strategic plans, they often do so with the aid of the best external assistance they can garner. By using all resources within our means, we can ensure the strategic planning process at the University of Florida is comprehensive and meaningful. The product will be a concrete but dynamic action plan we will put in place to achieve our goals. Page 9 While it might appear at one level as though there are independent groups or persons working on establishing priorities for the University’s future, they will be, in fact, part of a comprehensive process that will culminate in our first university-wide strategic plan. The FBOE will set the broad parameters within which we must operate in the newly created education governance system. The Presidential Task Force on the Future of the University of Florida will examine the quality of our programs and their place in a strategic set of priorities. The Provost and his staff will gather information and ideas to complement and supplement the work of the task force. I will take this body of work, review it with the consultants, and submit my recommendations to the UF Strategic Planning Committee. The document will be designed to guide our institution through the next decade and beyond. I fully understand that nothing about this process will be easy. There will be intense debate and arguments about what is best for the University and its students. That is in the nature of this process and it is fundamental to the ways universities operate. But I believe it is vitally important that we commence this process and examine intently various approaches that will ensure the advancement of this University. In the end, I hope that whatever our disagreements that we will keep uppermost in our minds the well being of our students and the future of the University of Florida.