University of Cincinnati Office of the President

University of Cincinnati Office of the President

Strategic Planning Update, January 10, 2013

Since my first days in office, I have been working with many of you to think critically and creatively about the strategic direction of the University. Looking back, all of us should take pride in how effectively and efficiently we worked together on UC2019► and the Academic Master Plan (AMP). A visioning document, UC2019► speaks to why we are here—namely, to transform lives, transform education and transform knowledge. An organizing document, the AMP details what we intend to do—from enhancing the research enterprise to ensuring excellent teaching to fully integrating the regional campuses into the UC experience. Looking ahead, we must now develop a framework for moving from the why and what to the how—that is, from aspiration and ideation to implementation.

As our focus shifts to implementation, it is essential for us to recognize that UC2019► and the AMP are living documents meant to be adapted to the University’s evolving needs, interests and capabilities. The recent changes in leadership and the start of a new year present a logical opportunity for us to revisit our ideas, test our assumptions and recast our efforts accordingly. In this vein, I have charged Provost Johnson with taking a fresh look at the AMP to further align our efforts; sharpen our focus; clarify our aims; and enhance our momentum.

Aligning Our Efforts

Provost Johnson, working in conjunction with Bob Ambach, Bill Ball and Tom Boat, has already established an AMP Steering Committee that will oversee several implementation committees charged with aligning and operationalizing various aspects of the AMP. Comprised of faculty, students, staff and administrators, these implementation committees will be organized around strategic themes such as enrollment management; teaching; research; the role of the regional campuses; diversity; financial planning; e-learning; commercialization; and international affairs. There also will be an efficiency committee devoted to streamlining services, improving operations, scaling innovation and curbing costs across the institution. To parallel these committees, I have established two working groups of strategic importance: the 1UC Task Force and the President’s Committee on Public Safety. The former seeks to further enhance the University’s relationship with the UC Foundation and the UC Alumni Association, while the latter is dedicated to improving safety on campus and in the surrounding communities. Each of these implementation committees has a different focus, though all are charged with accounting for the shifting landscape of higher education as well as with delivering concrete results in service of our strategic vision.

Sharpening Our Focus

UC2019 includes more than 70 metrics and corresponding targets for measuring institutional success. I am a firm believer in the theory that precision drives performance, and so I have asked the AMP Steering Committee to zero in on 10-12 key metrics that both reflect the new context of public higher education and advance our push for excellence. Once finalized, we will then create corresponding targets that are realistic and mutually reinforcing. This dashboard will be called the “AMP Excellence Index,” and it will be used as our primary reporting tool to the campus community.

Clarifying Our Aims

Whether stated, implied or inferred, much has been made in recent years about UC’s focus on gaining membership in the AAU. Let me be clear in saying that I harbor no such preoccupation. Simply put, I want us to be the very best UC we can be. I want us to better understand and articulate what makes UC not only different but also special. I also want us to get progressively better each year, building confidence in our accomplishments and staying committed to continuous improvement. I am counting on the AMP Steering Committee to help us fully integrate this mindset into our implementation efforts. Moving forward, if our ascent results in AAU membership, we’ll take it. If not, we’ll continue to strive for excellence with purpose and pride. But never will we allow a distinction to become our destination.

Enhancing Our Momentum

UC has enjoyed a remarkable run over the past few years, ranging from our record-breaking enrollment to our 17-spot jump in the US News & World Report ranking. Even so, I am thoroughly convinced that our best days are still ahead. Not least because our senior leadership team, under the direction of Provost Johnson and Bob Ambach, is getting a better handle on the economy of the University. Indeed, we are becoming increasingly more adept at identifying under-utilized endowment funds, evaluating past investments and generating new revenue streams—all with an eye toward building the resource base needed for significant and sustained investment in our academic and research excellence. What’s more, we know that we cannot be all things to all people, nor should we try. Equally important as the new initiatives we pursue are those we shutter because of changing needs or subpar performance. Effectively managing our resources is, without question, the linchpin to our strategic vision; the savvier we become in understanding the economy of the University, the more opportunities we will have to invest in excellence and enhance our momentum.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who had a hand in developing UC2019► and the AMP. But our work is by no means finished. We must pull together and take the next bold step in this momentous journey into UC’s third century. I look forward to partnering with you to build an even better UC.