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UC21 Academic Plan

Town Hall Meeting II - Jan. 29, 2004

President Zimpher welcomed participants and thanked everyone for accommodating this event in their busy schedules. The planning process was encouraged by conversations with the Search & Screen Committee and the Board of Trustees during the spring and summer. Although this is the second in a series of listening sessions, participation is greatly expanded to encourage participation in developing a vision for the University of Cincinnati that is vibrant, engaged and befits a truly world-class institution. By now everyone should be aware that there is a budget crisis at the university, but that should not deter planning, and should encourage it as we seek a broader revenue base. She reviewed the afternoon’s agenda, and described several trends that will be among those influencing the future of the university:

  1. Population
  2. Health-Care Disparities
  3. Cities
  4. Intellect
  5. Citizenship

President Zimpher introduced the Web site for the Comprehensive Academic Planning Process, and expressed her intention that the planning process would produce big, hairy, audacious and bold plans that will be implemented and not just sit on a shelf. The implementation will include measurable outcomes. The president then introduced the facilitator, B. Gleason.

B. Gleason described the format for the session, with informative presentations followed by discussion. There are facilitators at each table, with permission to interrupt to gather comments from as many individuals as possible.

B. Gleason introduced the first question, and solicited responses from each table. Among the responses were:

  1. the process does not become an empty exercise
  2. the University learns to work together
  3. the outcomes are translated into real work
  4. all participants are truly heard
  5. we collect benchmark data and make sure it works
  6. we identify what is really good about the University
  7. we take care of all of our students
  8. we generate an understanding of UC as a whole, with a common agenda
  9. the process identifies both global and local expectations
  10. provide focus for what UC is – research, open-access, professional, liberal arts
  11. courage to act on the plan
  12. improved relationships throughout the university
  13. that there will be resources to accomplish the plan
  14. how to get the balance of the University to participate
  15. student perspective is represented
  16. results should benefit students
  17. the end product should help us define the future
  18. better interaction with the city and the state
  19. hope that there is a right solution
  20. that improvements filter to the students
  21. concerns over resources and timing
  22. end should be one big vision, with everyone moving in the same direction
  23. the ability to prioritize what we do
  24. articulation improvements within the University and between UC and other institutions
  25. improved linkages between the campus and society

L. Johnson introduced a panel of administrators who provided background on previous and existing planning efforts, data related to planning outcomes and assessment and reports on planning efforts to-date.

J. Tucker reviewed the ranking systems used by various college guides and research centers. Rankings impact perception, reputation, image, recruiting, and fund raising. The University of Cincinnati has a mixed ranking currently, with good measures, measures on the cusp of improvement, and areas with a way to go.

A. Perzigian outlined planning efforts underway since 1999, and noted an environment ready for change. Since 1999, 75 percent of the deans are new and the university completed a “special emphasis” accreditation process. (In the NCA self study, the three targeted areas were interdisciplinary pedagogy and research, globalization and information technology.) The university also established the Collaboration for Student Success and the ensuing Collegiate Structures Initiative. The university restructured General Education, expanded the honors program, ramped up Education Abroad, integrated instructional technology, and adopted a variety of new pedagogies including service learning and learning communities. A lot of planning goes on at UC, but it traditionally has been focused within colleges. One congealing force has been our co-op program. Other initiatives include First-Year Experience, a number of interdisciplinary programs, the Center for Enhancing Teaching and Learning, and the Faculty Technology Resource Center. New programs have been launched at Western Hills High School, Waynesville, Warren County, Raymond Walters College and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

S. Degen (for J. Henney) described the impact of the Millennium Plan to double research holdings and recruit new faculty, particularly in interdisciplinary research. The university is positioning for an NIH emphasis on “big science”. Indicators point toward a need for increased enrollment, due to a national shortage of health-care professionals, and a comprehensive Medical Center should have a school of public health. There is a need for people and programs, but also place, so new and expanded facilities are important. There are opportunities, and the desire, to expand into the community in which we exist. There are opportunities to link the East and West Campuses. There are opportunities to strengthen collaborations along the I-71 corridor connecting Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. Goals include significant increase in NIH funding (not only at the East Campus), positioning faculty for nomination to national institutes and academies, and becoming a magnet for bioscience businesses.

D. McGirr related the development of the Campus Master Plan and lessons that can be applied to academic planning. The campus plan was driven by academic needs. It has been demonstrated that more can be accomplished by planning together, rather than separately. Balanced planning, top-down as well as bottom-up, is better than unbalanced planning. Planning is never over – there are always emerging issues. Consequently, it is helpful to have a set of unchanging or slowly evolving principles in the plan as well as a dynamic section reflecting emerging issues. It is advisable not to get too specific too early. If the first stages are too vague, it is probably a good sign. Planning should be a responsibility for senior management, and it is helpful to have an advisor to push the process along, someone who is better at questions than answers.

L. Johnson reviewed a content analysis of responses during the first listening session concerning UC’s unique attributes and UC’s aspirations.


B. Gleason noted a pattern in planning sessions: Any given session, no matter how long, will accomplish 80% of its goals. Therefore, this session would be speeded up where possible. Responses to the question included:

  1. a very parochial institution had broadened its horizons
  2. more user-friendly for faculty
  3. became the #1 employer in the city
  4. physical transformation of the campus
  5. growth of the research enterprise
  6. the student is now seen as a customer
  7. increased competition
  8. a growing need for a college education by students and their families
  9. information technology, along with the costs associated with adoption – in some cases getting in the way of pedagogy
  10. shift from a knowledge focus to a money focus
  11. higher education as a necessity, rather than a luxury
  12. greater participation by women
  13. changing demographics of both students and faculty
  14. an older student population
  15. accelerated pace
  16. increased expectation, and increased needs of students
  17. continuing to maintain traditional schedules and processes in the face of changing needs and opportunities
  18. an expanded role in society
  19. different sources of revenue
  20. increased branding and marketing
  21. a higher profile in general
  22. increased diversity driving better connections to the community
  23. economic pressures
  24. more accountability
  25. greater influence of sports
  26. expectations are on the rise
  27. more federally funded research

B. Gleason noted the comment regarding the accelerating pace of change, and observed that it is a common analysis. Change will occur with or without planning. His goal is to manage change to occur quickly, efficiently, and humanely. He briefly reviewed how people react to change and described a population of thirds, with one-third being early adopters, one-third waiting for encouragement, and another third resistant to change. People in general do not resist change, but they resist the perception that change is being forced upon them. There is a general desire to create consensus, which usually means a solution that the most people are least unhappy with. Gleason encourages alignment, in which a clear direction is presented, allowing the greatest number to move in a new direction. It is essential to be clear on the rules for success, because people become disoriented if these rules are not clear.

Question from the floor: Are institutions of higher education less prone to change than commercial entities?

B. Gleason said all organizations are resistant to change without outside stimulus. Commercial organizations are perhaps more readily aware of the potential for extinction.

B. Gleason noted that President Zimpher had identified five major trends that will affect the University of Cincinnati (and higher education in general) into the next century. They are:

  1. Population
  2. Health-Care Disparities
  3. Cities
  4. Intellect
  5. Citizenship

What other trends are emerging toward inclusion on this list, and which of these has the potential for the greatest societal impact? Among the responses were:

  1. expanding community involvement
  2. increasing diversity
  3. greater corporate involvement
  4. anticipating changes in society, technology, and the economy
  5. life-long learning and its role in the access mission
  6. interdisciplinary pressures, including bridging the public-private arenas
  7. growing economic disparities and the shrinking middle class and the gulf between the haves and the have-nots
  8. job shifts on a global scale
  9. environmental issues
  10. safety and security following 9-11
  11. a sense of safety in a changing community
  12. increased cultural diversity
  13. the need for a sense of belonging
  14. just-in-time learning
  15. increasing technological impact
  16. the changing nature and criteria of status
  17. changing definition of the educated person
  18. rapidly accelerating access to information
  19. changing value of a liberal education
  20. new understandings of core competencies
  21. public safety as part of an overall appraisal of justice
  22. the paradoxical need for more general knowledge in the face of pressure toward specialization
  23. the ability to both generate and harness new knowledge (and the potential for conflict with an access mission)
  24. creating finances to allow for access
  25. answering the question of education, how much depth and how much breadth
  26. continuing and even growing public obligations in the face of declining public support
  27. the pace of change and the lack of time to process change
  28. individual spheres of influence are growing larger than ever before
  29. the need for mission-driven and purposeful leaders
  30. globalization and connections around the world
  31. miniaturization in molecular science and nanotechnology
  32. the information-driven flow of knowledge
  33. growing financial and intellectual disparities
  34. increasing need to appreciate diversity

B. Gleason said that the list of trends generally identified big impacts approaching. What are examples of big ideas to address the changes implied by these trends? Among the suggestions were:

  1. making higher education available to anyone who wants it
  2. creating a sense of democracy in a nation without a majority
  3. creating a liberal education suitable for a technological world
  4. developing leadership to adapt to these trends
  5. becoming the place for leadership
  6. recognizing that universities are agents of change for social mobility

F. Siff explained the operation of the Blackboard system and directed participants to this repository of planning documents and forum for ongoing discussion.

President Zimpher described the academic planning web environment and encouraged participants to direct others to that site. She outlined future steps and thanked the facilitator, B. Gleason, process coordinator L. Johnson and the facilitators from his college, and the participants in today’s session.

Additional Documents

To view PDF files, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free download.

Agenda (PDF)
Presentations (Microsoft PowerPoint)
Summary of Table Discussions (PDF)

Town Hall Session II Handouts:
History in Brief (PDF)
Prior Planning Initiatives (PDF)
- Summary of 12-08-03 Town Hall Meeting, from Dr. L. Johnson (PDF)
- Summary of 12-08-03 Town Hall Meeting, from Provost T. Perzigian (PDF)
Instructions for Using the CAPP Blackboard Site (PDF)

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