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UC21 Academic Plan

Town Hall Meeting III - Feb. 12, 2004

President Zimpher welcomed participants and reported on progress to-date. There have been more than 20 input sessions on campus, and plans for meetings with donors and alumni. At the next meeting, February 24, the agenda will include a review of comments from the input sessions. The January 29 meeting produced some common concerns:

  1. Will the process be truly inclusive? All attempts are being made to make the process as inclusive as possible.
  2. Will anything really change? At the conclusion, we will have evidence that things are changing in positive and productive ways.
  3. Will the plan be both innovative and realistic? We are counting on the participants to make it so.
  4. How will we get the money to fund our vision? A key outcome will be a plan for generating revenue and resources.
  5. The process is too unwieldy. It may look chaotic because the process is not linear, but there is an endpoint, and work focused toward bringing it all together.
  6. Are we really able to think differently? People generally have to behave their way into different ways of thinking.

President Zimpher outlined expectations and hopes raised at the January session. In summary, we have made a great start to the process.

B. Gleason reviewed feedback from the prior session, noting agreement that the university can not be all things to all people and should have more focus. We should identify and leverage distinctive strengths, and add some new strengths as well. There was general agreement about keeping students at the core of the university’s planning. And, the university should identify the resources needed to implement its vision.

B. Gleason noted some tensions identified by participants:

  1. access mission vs. a reputation of distinction
  2. colleges vs. the university
  3. social responsibility vs. basic research
  4. liberal education vs. professional education
  5. building a diverse and model campus community vs. offering service anytime and anywhere

These tensions do not necessarily have to be resolved, but they must be acknowledged, and can inform our deliberations.

He indicated that some suggestions generated from the prior discussion could be considered guiding principles for a leading university in the 21st century. A model for meeting the needs of a diverse student body could be a guiding principle, as could a model for offering learning opportunities anytime and anywhere. The notion of partnerships and linkages cuts across a variety of big ideas.

B. Gleason asked participants to discuss, at their tables, possible “Big Ideas” to add to the discussion list. He reviewed where the process had taken us, and where it was heading as we worked toward a conclusion. Comments from the campus input sessions will be presented at the February 24 meeting, and input sessions will review comments from the Town Hall meetings.

The first draft of a list of “Big Ideas” included:

  1. Students learn from real-world experiences at UC.
  2. Real-world problems are solved at UC and by our graduates.
  3. Social justice and citizenship, locally and globally, are fostered by UC and our graduates.
  4. Economic development in our local and global communities is fostered by UC and our graduates.
  5. The challenges of health care are addressed at UC and by our graduates.
  6. Understanding and appreciation for the arts and humanities are advanced by UC and our graduates.
  7. The growing challenges of safety and security are addressed by UC and our graduates.
  8. UC is a key component of a seamless PK-16 educational system.

Comments from discussion:

  1. There is an astonishing omission in the absence of research and research excellence on the list of Big Ideas. A core value of the university experience is the development of new knowledge and new ideas.
  2. The list is too nebulous, it needs specific goals, like improving UC’s rankings in research and student appeal.
  3. Big Ideas should be, as the President said, “hairy and audacious,” like privatizing the university, or redefining the curriculum to accommodate life-long learning, or restructuring the university.
  4. There is an additional tension, between the content analysis used to summarize prior discussions (which gives weight to commonly voiced ideas) and unique ideas (that may be more vision-directed).
  5. The existing list should be rejected. They are not ideas, but assumptions about what we do already.
  6. UC should begin a smooth transition toward privatization, become the flagship university in Ohio, and set the liberal arts as its academic core.
  7. How does a university become top-funded, or top-tier? UC should become a leader in user-friendly support.
  8. The listed ideas are really themes, to which could be added technology and globalization. Themes should work across colleges and disciplines.
  9. What are we good at? What are our frustrations? Can we be global if our community is not cohesive?
  10. We need to move forward as if we are top-tier, improving communications, stewardship in social justice, creating excitement about learning and inclusion, and appreciate all the disciplines.
  11. The list does not include great ideas. We need things that move us forward to goals. We should be proactive, preventing problems instead of addressing them.
  12. We should promote sustainability, and influence our social environment by our leadership.
  13. Research and science, in particular, need to be added.
  14. Diversity should be included as a Big Idea.
  15. The sciences come up several ways. Solutions require complex skills and integrated knowledge. The real world cuts across all disciplines. Learning is at the core of all we do. We should take a leadership role by being anticipatory and at the forefront instead of responding.
  16. Four additional themes may be added: integration, to capture all the real-world experiences of our students and faculty, excellence, leadership, and innovation.
  17. We should aim toward national recognition, and a place at the table.


B. Gleason reviewed responses to the Big Ideas list. It would have been better to label them themes, but many of the themes may contain big ideas. It is time to get more specific, and find more actionable ideas. He directed the tables to select four themes and to add more detail to them – what do they mean? Where is the Big Idea?

Comments from discussion:

  1. The PK-16 system suggests creating joint appointment among the faculties of the university and local schools, establishing academies and mini-colleges, offering college courses in the high schools, and offering places for high school students at college.
  2. To lead instead of responding to issues, establish a Stupid Rules and Policies Committee to streamline university activities.
  3. To interface with the community, allow more access to the brain trust we have. This could be a place where problems come for resolution.
  4. Elevate real-world experience by coordinating co-op, internships, service learning and study abroad.
  5. Promote leadership by encouraging leadership exposure. Leaders should be accountable for leadership.
  6. Students should have a responsibility for promoting social justice. It should be a meaningful part of the curriculum.
  7. Research should be expanded throughout the curriculum.
  8. Leadership is a part of life-long learning. Create a leadership institute. Set a baseline for leadership exposure. Connect leadership development to co-op. Develop more knowledge of leadership through research. Each discipline should adopt this theme appropriately.
  9. Diversity as a value requires research and training. We should take advantage of the global village here, and explore what our international students take back home in addition to the knowledge.
  10. There are many literacies we could promote, including computer literacy, language proficiency, practical and applied knowledge, and multicultural literacy.
  11. To engage the community, we should eliminate barriers, state a clear set of values, eliminate bureaucracy, set community as a focus of research, unify convocation and commencement, celebrate individual student and faculty success, and celebrate that we are an urban campus.
  12. Approach teaching as a holistic function. Give students empowerment in the curriculum. Ground education in the liberal arts for holistic integrity. Create more options for life-long learners.
  13. Develop an experience-based education that is systematic, integrated and visible. Promote cross-college collaboration, promote research that translates basic science across disciplines. Revise the reappointment, promotion, and tenure system to aim toward institutional goals. Include faculty in real-world experiences.
  14. Increase the university’s research profile by hiring major researchers, acknowledge research by differential workloads and reward systems, and build new research strengths.
  15. Promote environmental sustainability.
  16. Privatize the university.
  17. Leadership could be tied to community development. Offer loaned faculty the way corporations offer loaned executives, expand colleges into the community, re-examine the mission of the university, and prepare our students – most of whom will stay here – for life in this community.
  18. Utilize our brain trust. Collaborate within and external to the university. Regenerate and assess faculty. Teach independence rather than dependence. Create more research opportunities for undergraduates.
  19. Develop UC as an economic development power.
  20. Discuss athletics openly and honestly, and explore ways to merge athletics and academics.
  21. The university’s structure should be reorganized and focused on knowledge creation and acquisition. We need different kinds of structures, and to seriously investigate how we do what we do.

B. Gleason asked participants to begin thinking what will be different 15 years from now, and how the University will need to change internally and externally.

There will be a “Quick Wins” process to capture easily accomplished ideas generated at the planning sessions, chaired by J. Tucker, in addition to a “Stupid” Rules review process.

President Zimpher suggested another task, and encouraged participants to take the time to mine the data generated from the various discussions. Look for Big Ideas. There are many good ideas, and they must be organized correctly. She thanked everyone for their patience and creativity. The next session will devote a fair amount of time to consideration of place, recognizing that we have transformed the campus and now must look at the community that will live here, and recognize the challenge of Uptown development as we help create a place to live, learn, work, play – and stay.

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 III Outputs:
Quick Wins, from Jim Tucker (PDF)

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