UT fortifies its future

August 29th, 2017 Posted in From Our Alumni
University’s new strategic plans guide its ‘path to excellence’

By Meghan Cunningham

The University of Toledo’s iconic clock tower and historic Glass Bowl stadium are highlights of the UT campus.

In her first State of the University Address on April 5, 2017, President Sharon L. Gaber answered a question she said she frequently is asked: “Where can we expect UT to be in the next five to 10 years?”

Gaber said in her speech that there was a need for a solid foundation on which to build continued, sustainable progress for The University of Toledo. The pursuit of that stronger foundation required new goals and ideas that focused on student success.

Five key priorities had been established within the first months of Gaber’s administration to help guide the University’s progress. Those priorities have been to raise the institution’s national reputation, increase enrollment, increase fundraising and externally funded research, and to ensure that a UT degree remains affordable.

Four major plans have been created to pave the way toward reaching these goals: a diversity plan, an enrollment plan, a multiple-campus master plan and a strategic plan.

“We’ve accomplished a great deal in the past 22 months. Step by step, we are charting a bold new legacy of excellence, one that exceeds even our most accomplished days,” Gaber said in her address. “The University of Toledo is a formidable institution. Over the decades, it has merged, grown, survived and thrived. As we contemplate today and look to the future, I see only promise.

“We have so much more to do. Together we are building a stronger UT. We will continue to change the lives of the people who entrust us with their educations. And we will continue to advance knowledge in the world,” she said.

The new strategic plan, called The University of Toledo’s Path to Excellence, will guide UT’s priorities during the next five years as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2022. The strategic plan was approved in June by the UT Board of Trustees.

Revised mission, vision and values guide the plan that is organized around five priorities, each with specific goals accompanied by outcomes, metrics, and responsible individuals or departments to measure the progress toward achievement of the goal. The plan also includes a number of aspirational goals, including increasing UT’s position into the U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 public, national, research university ranking, which will continue beyond the five-year timeframe outlined in the document.

The new mission of the University: “The University of Toledo is a national, public research university where students obtain a world-class education and become part of a diverse community of leaders committed to improving the human condition in the region and the world.”

The revised vision is: “The University of Toledo will be a nationally ranked, public research university with internationally recognized expertise and exceptional strength in discovery, teaching, clinical practice and service.”

The new strategic plan also lists UT’s values: excellence, student-centeredness, research and scholarship, professionalism and leadership, and diversity.

“Thank you to the many constituents who exchanged ideas and debated priorities as we worked together to set our path forward,” Gaber said. “This strategic plan outlines the strong future of The University of Toledo and details how we will grow and develop with the support of our dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni and community.”

“I am proud of the inclusive process that created this strategic plan. It will allow us to build on our strengths and address opportunities for improvement as we move UT toward excellence,” said Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “I look forward to working with our faculty and staff on the plan’s implementation and the impact it will have on our future success.”

The collaborative process to create the strategic plan included the input of hundreds of students, faculty, staff and the public who attended discussion sessions and provided feedback on drafts since the strategic planning process began in September 2016.

The University of Toledo Medical Center, a teaching hospital, is part of UT’s Health Science Campus.

Hsu led the process with the assistance of Dr. Sharon McDade, a principal and senior executive leadership consultant with Greenwood/Asher and Associates Inc., and strategic planning committee co-chairs Dr. Laurie Dinnebeil, Distinguished University Professor and chair of early childhood, physical and special education; and Dr. Anthony Quinn, associate professor of biological sciences and assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Because students are the center of all UT does, the first strategic priority in the plan is Student Success and Academic Excellence. The plan outlines goals to improve student success, retention and degree completion, and to better prepare students for future academic studies and career success.

The plan prioritizes Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities, listing goals to achieve national recognition for five areas of research excellence, increase prominence for faculty researchers, and improve productivity.

The third priority is Faculty, Staff and Alumni, with the goal to foster a culture of support and high job satisfaction, increase diversity, strengthen a sense of community and pride, and increase meaningful engagement with alumni and friends.

Building a strong financial foundation is the first goal in the Fiscal Positioning and Infrastructure priority that also sets out to ensure adaptability and sustainability for academic programs, increases in revenue and operating efficiencies, and infrastructure improvements.

The final priority in the strategic plan is Reputation and Engagement. To strengthen this area, goals have been set to improve UT’s national and international reputation and improve ties at local and regional levels, unify the University’s branding and marketing, grow the UT health-care system, increase philanthropy, and promote Rocket athletics.

Each of the goals is accompanied by a measurable outcome. Each outcome starts with a 2016 baseline measurement and identifies a 2022 target. It also identifies the departments or individuals in the University who are responsible for achieving that goal. Success will be regularly monitored using a dashboard. Units across the University are being asked to create complementary strategic plans aligned with the Path to Excellence document to ensure everyone is working together to move the institution forward.

The strategic plan is available at utoledo.edu/strategicplan. Downloadable copies of all of the University’s major plans are available on that site as well.

The 2016-2017 Annual Report video highlights many of The University of Toledo’s achievements throughout the past year, showing the progress that’s been made toward meeting the five key goals established early in President Sharon L. Gaber’s administration. A new Strategic Plan: A Path to Excellence continues that work and extends it into 2022, when UT celebrates its sesquicentennial.
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