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UC21 Academic Plan

Town Hall Meeting VII - April 8, 2004

B. Gleason outlined the day’s agenda, and summarized progress to-date. Work is ongoing to compile data from campus listening sessions, and the target date of May 21 will be the public unveiling of the plan.

Today, the task involves continued work on action plans with particular focus on accountability and assessment. There are a few groups for whom it will be helpful to go back through the planning drafts to look for points that say, “Magic happens here.” In other words, some plans expect a significant cultural change to occur without a clear explanation of how that change can occur.

A similar magic box may occur regarding funding. The planning drafts are very diverse in this regard, with some addressing funding in some detail, and others remaining rather vague. It is helpful to ask: “What is this recommendation going to cost?” The answer may be a rough estimate, but it should include some assumptions.

Action teams have asked some questions it may be helpful to discuss for everyone’s benefit. What, some teams have asked, should we do if we have developed two related, but different, action plans? Continue work on both. Develop them fully. Another set of questions involves tensions within the group. What can we do with irresolvable issues? What if a team member refuses to compromise? There is no referee. Teams have to work through these tensions at the team level. Either reframe the issues to achieve a solution, or try to find some common ground. The issues we are working on are hard – that is proof that they are important to our future.

Action teams proceeded to work.


B. Gleason described the state of the process and forthcoming steps. What will happen after May 21? Work will continue during the summer to refine goals and strategies. The Cabinet, as steering committee, and the action team leaders will be involved. There will be more detail about implementation at the next Town Hall.

President Zimpher said she had just arrived from a meeting downtown involving several UC alumni. They are hungry for information about what we are doing.

President Zimpher addressed questions raised by action teams, encouraging teams to work through differences and tensions. Some teams had asked if this plan was real. It is as real as it gets. If the president wanted to write a plan without input, it could have been accomplished in far less time. It is essential, however, for the university to truly embody this plan. The president can represent the plan, but the institution must feel it. This plan will go public on May 21, but it will not sit on a shelf thereafter.

President Zimpher noted that she had often talked about the importance of vision. The university needs a set of strategic actions, but it needs a vision as well. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Idea has existed for 150 years. It is unique, and there is not another state with something quite like it. It can be summed up in a statement that the boundaries of the state university are the boundaries of the state. In Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Idea became a shortcut to broad public understanding of what the university was all about. Naming this plan is more important than many people realize. If we can get other people to talk about our vision, we can lead them to understand our mission and support us and collaborate with us to help us achieve our goals.

There has been a lot of discussion about the name. Many ideas have revolved around 21, as in the 21st Century. We are at the beginning of that century, so it has a long life. UC is the most economical way to reference the University of Cincinnati. The pieces can be combined as UC 21. As an element, it may be rejected, but it must then be replaced by something.

And then, what follows the colon? A number of suggestions have incorporated the word “urban” in some way. This stumps some people. UC is arguably one of the few public universities in an urban setting with a strong research mission, and may be the only university in Ohio with a strong urban tradition and a strong research mission. We cannot have the future we deserve unless we work through this tension.

The plan will have a name. If we do not name it ourselves, others will name it for us. It is not a new brand. We are not renaming the institution. Our goal is to get people talking about us, and understanding us.

B. Gleason discussed a proposed grouping of action teams in general categories. The idea is to create a briefer list of tasks so we can present a clear idea to the public of the scope of the plan. He asked the action teams to review the proposal and determine if the grouping worked, and if there are better titles for each group. Action team reports are due April 16. The next, and final, Town Hall meeting will be April 20.

Additional Documents

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

Agenda (PDF)
Presentation - Welcome / Opening Remarks (Microsoft PowerPoint)
Summary of Table Discussions (PDF)

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