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Planning for the Changes Ahead
The University will soon begin the process of developing a strategic plan for the next five to seven years -- a period that is likely to present significant challenges for all institutions of higher education, President Walter Harrison said Wednesday.
Speaking at the spring semester Faculty/Staff Kickoff in Wilde Auditorium, Harrison said that the nation’s colleges and universities face a great deal of uncertainty in areas that are largely beyond their control, such as the struggling economy, sweeping technological changes, and demographic shifts.
“I am convinced now that the winds of change are howling, and we need to figure out how to trim our sails to take full advantage of them,” Harrison said.
Read President Harrison’s complete remarks.
The University recently released the implementation plans for “Foundation of the Future,” the institution’s strategic prioritization initiative. The goal of the initiative is to focus the University's resources on its highest priorities in order to reduce costs, hold tuition increases as low as possible, and invest in strategic priorities in a very tight economy.
The next step, which will begin within the next month, is to build on that foundation by creating a far-reaching strategic plan that will shape a stronger University over the next seven years, Harrison said. The plan will be called 20-20 Vision – a reference to the plan’s seven-year time frame, which will take the University to the year 2020, and to the sharp, focused vision that the plan will provide.
The Board of Regents Strategic Planning Committee will oversee this process. President Harrison chairs the committee and its members come from the regents, senior administration, faculty, and staff. The group is currently searching for a consultant to help develop and execute the plan. “We anticipate putting together a steering group of administrators, faculty, and staff to coordinate the hands-on work of planning,” Harrison said. “We will also create, I hope, a series of more focused groups to help us with specific areas of expertise.”
Compensation Plan for FY 2014
In his remarks on Wednesday, Harrison also discussed next year’s compensation plan for faculty and staff. Due to a drop in undergraduate enrollment and a desire to keep tuition increases as low as possible, “the administration has recommended and the Board of Regents has approved a very conservative approach,” Harrison said.
“Our focus is to provide compensation increases to our lowest paid colleagues and to enact the first step in the full-time faculty strategic compensation plan, aimed at those faculty farthest below their peer group,” Harrison said. The specific plans for Fiscal Year 2014 are as follows:
• For full-time faculty, the University will raise minimum salaries to 85 percent of the median of the peer group as defined by the faculty strategic compensation plan released in September.
• The University also will provide pay increases for all faculty promotions approved by the Board of Regents.
• For full-time staff, the University will establish a two percent merit increase pool for all employees whose salaries are less than $40,000 per year.
• In addition, the University will increase minimum pay per credit hour by $25 for part-time faculty.
“I have suggested to the Board that, if we exceed by some significant margin the enrollment targets we have set for the fall, I may return to them for permission to offer up to two percent salary increases as one-time payments to remaining faculty and staff (those earning $40,000 or more),” Harrison said.
Deans, vice presidents, and President Harrison will not be eligible for any such increase, Harrison said.
“The Board, the University’s officers, and I all wish we could do more,” Harrison added. “But I hope you will appreciate that we are doing our best to help those of us most in need.”