[Source: Eric Swedlund, Arizona Daily Star] – The University of Arizona is working to redefine its role as a land-grant university with a five-year strategic plan guiding growth and focusing on meeting state needs in research and work-force development. Among the results will be a substantial increase in enrollment overall, particularly for graduate students, a sharp upswing in the number of graduates in teaching and nursing, and a new pledge that low-income students will be guaranteed the financial aid they need.
The university’s research mission will continue to focus on current strengths, including biosciences and biotechnology, optics, space exploration and climate, environment, water and energy sustainability. The goal is to increase annual research funding from $552 million to $760 million over the next five years, while increasing the number of endowed faculty chairs from 67 to 100. “The people of Arizona can be assured their land-grant university will pave the way to a successful and prosperous future,” said UA President Robert Shelton. “What drives us is serving the people of Arizona and improving the human condition.”
Shelton presented the 2007-08 five-year strategic plan to the Arizona Board of Regents Friday at the board’s meeting at Arizona State University. The plan was developed by the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee, chaired by Miranda Joseph, an associate professor of women’s studies.
The university will grow to nearly 44,000 students by 2013, with goals of certifying 5 percent more teachers each year, doubling the number of nursing students in accelerated programs, and increasing the number of pharmacy and medical students by one-fifth. Graduate students are expected to make up 25 percent of the overall student body by 2013, up from 21.9 percent now, and Shelton calls for improving the six-year graduation rate from 60 percent to 66 percent and the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate to 90 percent from 80 percent now. “What we have proposed in our plan is a new approach to a storied history of success,” Shelton said. “The University of Arizona is poised to redefine the modern land-grant university.”
Also Friday, the regents presented an update on their 2020 Plan, a long-term vision for growth in the university system. The work will be finalized by the summer, said Regent Robert Bulla.
Annual undergraduate enrollment at the three state universities has increased by 27 percent