New plan calls for bigger, better UA

2013-11-23T00:00:00Z New plan calls for bigger, better UABy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The University of Arizona is looking at the big picture as it plans for the future.

And a very big picture it is.

More spending, more research and more students are on the horizon, along with hundreds more professors and $1 billion or so more in public donations.

On Friday, UA leaders unveiled the school’s new strategic plan, a sweeping document called “Never Settle” that will guide its efforts over the next decade or so.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart calls the plan “big and bodacious” and essential to retooling the university for the 21st century knowledge economy.

Among other things, it calls for:

— Adding 9,000 students to the current campus population of around 40,000 by the end of the decade.

— Hiring more than 300 professors in fields seen as key to job creation such as medical research, public health, space systems and climate change.

— Building more research laboratories and upgrading existing ones, a $450 million effort for which UA is seeking state bond money.

— Providing work-related experience to every UA student, through internships, foreign study and similar programs. Future transcripts will include a notation to let employers know UA graduates are “real-world ready.”

— More partnerships with businesses to bring in extra money and create career opportunities for UA graduates.

— More aggressive pursuit of federal grants.

— A $1 billion-plus fundraising campaign that would start next year and run for several years. Donations would be used to support students, faculty and programs and for capital projects.

The plan doesn’t go into detail about future tuition increases, but says total tuition revenue will rise from about $350 million this year to $550 million by 2020.

The plan has been a major focus of Hart’s work since she arrived at UA last year. It involved a campuswide collaboration between faculty, administration and many other groups.

Its impact will be felt far beyond Old Main, Hart predicted.

If the UA succeeds, thousands more high-quality jobs could result, increasing prosperity in Southern Arizona and the state.

The plan will help UA “create the next-generation industries for Arizona and America,” Hart said after presenting it to the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s public universities.

Regent Anne Mariucci called the plan “ambitious and well-documented” and long overdue.

Board Chairman Rick Myers said the plan’s goals are aggressive for the right reasons.

“We live in a very competitive world,” Myers said.

UA’s efforts “will help us create the future we deserve.”

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or 573-4138.

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