Hart Discusses 'Never Settle,' State Funding at Faculty Senate
UA President Ann Weaver Hart presented the new "Never Settle" strategic plan, discussed the University's upcoming budget request to the Legislature and suggested ways the UA could make better use of underutilized space in remarks during the Faculty Senate's first meeting of the semester, held Monday.
'Never Settle' and 100% Engagement
Hart gave a detailed presentation about the UA's "Never Settle" strategic plan, which rests on four pillars: engaging, innovating, partnering and synergy. She noted that the plan's elements align with a "commitment to the spirit of solving problems and being engaged actively in what we do."
Part of the plan is to engage 100 percent of undergraduates in internships and other experiences that will allow them to apply their learning from the classroom to real-world settings, an aspect Hart called a more innovative and sophisticated way of thinking about education as opposed to having students simply master the curriculum for a given course.
"It's forward-looking. We have many challenges ... but we will never settle as we address those challenges and the new opportunities for growth and excellence that are presented to us," Hart said. "We are grasping the future and we are going to make it a reality."
Hart added that the UA has had a great start this school year, pointing out that 600 students who previously left the University have returned. And, she said, the UA continues to be the "big dog" for National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation funding in the state.
2015 Budget Request
Arizona's three universities have agreed to submit a single budget package to the state Legislature for fiscal year 2015, Hart said.
The UA only received a $1 million increase in performance funding from the state last year, she said. Under the performance-funding model, money is allocated based on a university's effectiveness and efficiency at meeting approved performance goals, rather than based on enrollment numbers.
Hart says she's ready to advocate for increased funding with intensity.
She added that the presidents of Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University have pledged that they personally will be arguing in support of this single, united budget request that includes a decision package to restore lost state revenues for Cooperative Extension and a new revolutionary veterinary medicine program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences that would halve the time to degree and meet a critical state workforce need for large animal veterinarians.
Hart said she has received support from ASU President Michael Crow, NAU President John Haeger and ABOR President Eileen Klein to support the $8 million request for CALS' veterinary medicine and Cooperative Extension programs.
The budget request – due by the end of this month – will include funding requests from Arizona's three universities for the state Legislature's consideration. Hart said the request will also include a $15 million special ABOR-mandated Mission Differentiation Funding appropriation for the UA that will be ongoing funds put towards the core operations of the University.
Out of the entire nation, Arizona has seen the greatest decrease in state funding with a 36.6 percent decrease from 2008 to 2013, according to Illinois State University's Grapevine Project. Hart cited CALS as one example where budget cuts were felt hard over the last five years.
"While we all took the same cuts, the remedies we were able to seek through additional revenues and tuition were not available for our core mission in serving the agriculture community," Hart said. "It's going to be critically important for all leaders in the broader agricultural community to really step up and support funding for the higher education request that is going to go forward."
Once the budget request is submitted, Hart said Gov. Jan Brewer and her budget leaders will review it and, "I hope, be consulting with all of us as they set their priorities."
Finding More Space
Turning to campus issues, Hart said there are several areas in need of improvement, including the struggle to find more physical space.
"The problem we have in Tucson is that we are landlocked," Hart said. "The city of Phoenix and ASU have thousands of acres ... available for use." The issue of available land "is a huge challenge for us."
As a solution, Hart proposed taking a closer look at the University's underutilized properties, such as the UA Bio Park's 65-acres of land in central Tucson, and creating new business arrangements with local companies.
"It's incumbent upon us to ... develop plans for private partners here in Tucson," she said. While the UA does have land, the University is not optimizing its use, she said.
Hart said she hopes to strengthen a plan for increasing out-of-state and international enrollment at the UA.
She also said she hopes the University will continue its contribution to the future through arts, new business, research and engaging student experiences. Additionally, she reminded Faculty Senate that she believes the University's most critical resource is its people.
People are "literally the working capital of this University," she said. "I want you to know that I never forget that."