Where we've been, where we're going
Now that my first academic year as president of UTSA has come to a close, I want to offer my congratulations and thanks to all of you. Your hard work and tremendous dedication to our students was apparent at every turn, and I am truly grateful to have such high caliber faculty and staff at UTSA.
As our minds turn to preparing for the upcoming terms, I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts regarding where we’ve been this year, and the vision for UTSA’s future in the decade ahead.
The work we did together this year to explore a new vision for UTSA as San Antonio’s University for the World was very exciting for me, as I hope it was for you. Through the course of my initial Community Conversations with faculty, staff, students, community members and other stakeholders, we shaped a pathway to new levels of excellence for UTSA.
A solid strategic planning and implementation process is the key to getting to our destination. If you will indulge me in a brief explanation, I think you will see how all the pieces fit together to chart our path, turning imagination into reality.
Imagine UTSA in 10 Years
First, we dream. Picture UTSA 10 years from now.
I know you are all thinking “great ideas Taylor, but how in the world do you plan to get us there?”
To begin with, we know the 10-year vision is achievable because others have done it before us. I hope you had an opportunity to review our new peer models of excellence and found their examples of transformation to be inspirational.
Our institutional mission, vision and core values provide the framework. They reflect who we are, what we do, and how we make the world a better place, now and into the future. These statements are due for a fresh look to be sure they accurately capture UTSA’s state of being and future trajectory. This fall, as a community, we will consider revisions as well as the adoption of a new statement on institutional diversity and inclusion.
Chart our Path
Our 10-year strategy for “moving the dial” in substantial ways rests on the core properties that define our goals and very purpose as a public institution of higher education.
Our six strategic themes guide our way.
Our themes underwent collective consideration and review during my community conversation sessions with various faculty, staff and student groups over the past academic year. Feedback was incorporated along the way, and the themes are now solidified. Moving forward, everything we do at UTSA should support the effort to bring our strategic themes to fruition.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) define what exactly we plan to accomplish.
We have identified a set of institutional KPIs based on important metrics such as our retention and graduation rates, research expenditures, and endowment, just to name a few. We are in the process of defining clear numeric goals for each KPI. In addition, UT System’s dashboard indicators will inform our goals.
Our institutional brand illustrates our promise.
The Presidential Initiative on Strategic Communications will involve a rebranding effort to reinforce our vision in ways that resonate with our diverse stakeholder audiences.
Within the context of the above, achieving our vision follows a strategic pathway:
Move the Dial
Strategic Initiatives are launched at regular intervals to fulfill our six themes and move us closer to our KPI goals. The process for determining which initiatives to pursue is done in consultation with my Senior Leadership Team, using a prioritization method developed by Can Saygin, interim senior vice provost for institutional effectiveness and strategic initiatives. Our aim is to focus on those initiatives that have the highest potential for rapid progress toward the 10-year vision while considering resources, time, expense and sustainability. Dr. Saygin and his team are working on a Strategic Implementation Plan to provide a framework for the rollout of our initiatives moving forward, and a draft of that plan will be shared soon.
Measure Our Progress
Data dashboards will facilitate the assessment of our progress, helping us to make adjustments when needed, and inform the prioritization of future strategic initiatives. A data governance initiative is just getting off the ground which will include the development of a new set of dashboards, providing full transparency regarding our current status. Annual performance evaluations will be another tool used in our ongoing assessment efforts.
This summer we are wrapping up the initial phases of several initiatives, including Strategic Enrollment, Student Success and Weighted Student Credit Hour Optimization. Final reports on each will be made available later this summer. These efforts will continue in the form of new phases focused on tactic implementation within specific areas.
Several initiatives on the horizon will take center stage over the next year. They include our Campus Master Plan, Data Governance and Diversity and Inclusion. In addition, we will launch initiatives on Research Excellence, focused on our pursuit of Carnegie R1 status and National Research University Fund eligibility, and Classroom to Career, deepening and broadening our experiential learning opportunities to better prepare our students for their futures. I am looking forward to Provost Espy's arrival next week to help facilitate these initiatives.
This fall, I’ll embark on Community Conversations 2.0, visiting with various faculty, staff and student constituency groups as I did this last year. This will be an opportunity for me to share strategic planning updates and proposed mission/vision/diversity statements. I always find the input I receive during these discussions to be invaluable.
If you have hung in with me to the end of this email, I applaud you! As you can probably tell, I love the strategic planning process. I realize it may be challenging for you to immediately see yourself and your important role here at UTSA within this framework. Please trust me when I say that everyone plays a role here, through the work you do on a daily basis to embody our strategic themes, to support our students, and to raise your hand when you hear the call to go above-and-beyond. We are unstoppable!
I wish for you all a summer that achieves your ideal balance of productivity and unplugged relaxation. Enjoy every moment.