Chancellor Message 2/17/11

Message to Campus
RE Strategic Planning Update

Strategic Plan

The UIC Strategic Plan was put into effect in 2006. Most university plans project a five-year horizon and, under normal circumstances, this would be the time to start moving forward with the development of the next UIC Strategic Plan. Given the uncertainty of the State's budget, the newness of our Board of Trustees, the University of Illinois President and the evolving administrative structures within University administration (e.g. the re-envisioning of the roles of the Chancellors and the defining of a series of Vice Presidents to coordinate the activities of the three campuses), we are not operating under "normal" circumstances. We are also in the midst of a search for a permanent Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost. As such, it seems prudent to postpone a full strategic planning exercise until we have a better sense of what the future will hold.

At the same time the campus must move forward, understand how best to prioritize its expenditures and human capital, and ensure that we invest in those values and goals that are important to our mission, even as we may need to divest from those items that have a lower priority.

In order to assure the current UIC Strategic Plan remains fresh and timely, and that we all understand the directions in which the campus needs to proceed, we convened, last spring and again this past summer, a strategic directions group to discuss how the goals and accomplishments of the existing strategic plan apply to the current situations, and how we focus these goals over the next few years. The facilitated conversations and small-team work have lead to the identification of six areas on which we must focus.

The identified Strategic Directions are (not listed in priority order):

  • Enhance access to academic excellence and student success, including improving the undergraduate admission process to increase retention and graduation rates without negatively impacting student diversity
  • Grow our translational research and discovery enterprise
  • Focus on health, education, and economic disparities
  • Revisit the Great Cities commitment while continuing to honor our relationship and engagement with Chicago and our communities
  • Foster global diversity and a global perspective
  • Emphasize the positive transformative and social impact of UIC - identity, marketing and development

It is anticipated that each Strategic Direction will be represented in the next UIC Strategic Plan.

It is our intention to continue to convene the Strategic Directions group periodically to assure our coordinated and forward momentum. At the appropriate time, the new Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost will convene a group to initiate work on a new UIC Strategic Plan.

In the meantime, Lon Kaufman, Vice Provost for Planning and Programs, is responsible for the oversight of the strategic planning process in collaboration with Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Jerry Bauman. The campus is, has been, and will continue to be engaged in several major topical strategic thinking and planning exercises. It is assumed that the Mission, Vision, Goals, Objectives, and Action items identified within each plan will become a part of the next full UIC Strategic Plan.

UIC Diversity Strategic Thinking and Planning Exercise

A draft of the UIC Diversity Thinking Document, UIC Through the Lens of Diversity, was released to the campus last spring. The document represents 18 months of intense work by the Diversity Strategic Thinking Committee, and the collective thoughts of over 40 campus units and hundreds of campus and community members, including students, who made important contributions. The document remains in draft form as we continue to receive information, updates, and corrections from various constituencies. We are delighted that those faculty members who study diversity as an intellectual pursuit have extended their valued assistance.

We anticipate the simultaneous release of a draft Diversity Strategic Plan and the final version of UIC Through the Lens of Diversity at the end of the Spring Semester 2011. Details regarding the Thinking and Planning processes, committee and subcommittee memberships, the various means by which campus, community, and constituency groups were engaged, and the draft document itself can be found at the website. It is important to note that each college and vice chancellor unit is, or will be, carrying out a similar process in parallel to the overall campus process.

UIC Research Plan

Joe "Skip" Garcia, Vice Chancellor for Research, has defined three strategic areas for research at UIC:

  • Community Disparities (Population Health, Successful Lives, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, Social Justice, Educational and Economic Disparities)
  • Biomedical Discovery (Molecular Bioscience, Predictive Life Science, Genetics and Genomics)
  • Urban Resilience and the Global Environment (Global Change, Infrastructure, Sustainability)

More recently, Dr. Garcia convened three separate groups of UIC thought leaders to explore these three areas of scholarship, with the intent of defining specific areas of scholarship for VCR investment. A final set of recommendations is expected by the end of the Spring Semester 2011.

UIC Campus Master Plan

This past fall, the campus completed the three-year Campus Master Planning process, The UIC 2010 Campus Master Plan: A Framework for the Future. The Board of Trustees approved the plan in November 2010. The planning exercise relied on the collective wisdom of the campus and community, including over 40 campus units, the deans and vice chancellors, campus-based technical experts, two classes, and hundreds of individuals who were interviewed or attended the many town hall meetings, including our students. Detailed information on the planning process, information derived from the interviews and town halls, membership of and charge to the various committees, and the specific roles of the two classes can be found at the Master Planning website. Copies of the UIC Campus Master Plan Vision Document, the Master Plan, and the Executive Summary are also available on the website.

UIC Business Continuity Plan

UIC is engaged in a consultative process with internal and external experts. The resulting plan will assure that critical information will survive and be accessible in cases of disasters and emergencies, assuring that critical processes and services will continue. The methodical work has been underway for approximately six months and completion is anticipated this summer.

UIC Campus Building Infrastructure Renewal Plan

The deferred maintenance for many of our buildings is approaching a critical level. We are evaluating the systems (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, building exteriors, and life safety) in our buildings to provide a framework for a coordinated, efficient order in which the most egregious issues can be addressed. The building characterizations were completed in November. The campus has identified several reliable funding streams that can be used to begin addressing those necessary repairs that provide the greatest benefit to our mission.

Provost's Administrative Review and Restructuring Task Forces

Most of you are aware of the five task forces commissioned by Provost Michael Tanner. These task forces were designed to help the campus understand how best to enact the general findings of the University-wide Administrative Review and Restructuring (ARR) Task Force. Details regarding the initial charge and composition for each of the five Task Forces can be found at the Provost's website. By definition, most of the findings of the Task Forces will be directed at immediate or short-term activities and will not focus on strategic objectives. Longer term, strategic goals or visions that are developed as part of the Task Force process will be considered as we prepare a new UIC Strategic Plan.

Of the five task forces, Records Management (RM) and Information Technology (IT) have filed their initial set of findings. The Records Management group will now define, prioritize, and implement those findings associated with cost savings, improved service, and compliance with state and federal law.

In the case of IT, the immediate next step will be to define, prioritize, and implement a set of recommendations designed to provide improved or more efficient infrastructure, resulting in better service and/or cost savings.

The ARR Internal and External Task Forces are completing their final documents. It is likely that in both cases, there will be a second phase that defines, prioritizes, and implements a set of specific recommendations based on greater efficiency and/or cost savings.

The Academic Directions Task Force filed a preliminary report in October that outlined the process by which it would evaluate all departments and colleges at UIC. The process of evaluating the 91 academic departments, based on internal surveys, common performance measures, and benchmarking information, is near completion. Recommendations on a departmental and college basis should be complete by the end of the academic year.

In summary, to those of you who have been deeply engaged in these various planning activities, we appreciate your participation and commitment. We are a young, vibrant, and extraordinary Institution. We recognize the severe challenges facing us, yet every day there are countless examples of excellence in teaching, research, clinical care, and student volunteerism.

Thank you for your expertise and dedication to our students, patients, and the public we serve.

Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor
Jerry Bauman, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, Designate
Lon Kaufman, Vice Provost for Planning and Programs