Strategic Action Plan
— Approved by the Board of Trustees on October 13, 2000
(for the 2003 draft, please go to http://www.uvm.edu/provost/?Page=strategic_action_plan2003.html
The University of Vermont is an exceptional institution with a proud history,
based on a strong intellectual community and a long tradition of concern
for the quality of life in the communities it serves.1
UVM combines the intellectual resources of a comprehensive research university
with an excellent liberal arts education offered through close student-teacher
interactions. In addition, it combines an enduring respect for high quality
education with the use of cutting-edge technology to enhance excellence.
Our strengths, unusual among state universities nationally, offer both
exciting opportunities and difficult challenges.
Our strengths reflect our values, which include:
- An abiding concern for the environment, health, and liberal education
- A strong commitment to diversity in the student body, the faculty and
staff, and the curriculum
- A willingness to address difficult societal issues with honesty, civility,
and practicality. We are a community that values respect, integrity,
innovation, openness, justice, and responsibility
If our efforts over the next five years are successful, the University
of Vermont will have a superior national reputation —
- As a university that combines the outstanding teaching and student-centered
experience of a liberal arts college with the research focus, faculty
excellence, programmatic depth, graduate studies, and societal mission
of a comprehensive university.
- As a community that is vibrant, diverse, and intellectually engaged,
that operates on a human scale and focuses on enhancing the quality
of life for individuals and communities in Vermont and throughout the
- As a place that emphasizes not only academic excellence, but also an
exceptional student experience that extends far beyond classroom walls
- As a financially healthy institution
- As a leader in the study of the environment and of health
Our vision is to achieve these things, and to make UVM one of the best
places in the nation to study, live and work.
To sustain and nurture our values, and to enhance excellence, we need
to meet urgent challenges to our strengths in four areas2:
- Promoting academic excellence
- Enhancing student experience
- Responding to the needs of society
- Building our capacity to achieve our mission
Prioritizing ways to meet these challenges will be based on the extent
to which each proposed course of action:
- Is in the best interest of our students
- Enhances quality
- Is critical to our mission
- Will increase the perceived and actual value of the UVM experience
for students, faculty, and staff
- Will help us create and maintain a sustainable resource base for the
We will also focus on the hallmarks of a UVM education, what we do best
and what makes us distinctive. These include three areas of exceptional
strength in our academic and research portfolio:
- Liberal Education
and two areas of emphasis where we create learning experiences in meaningful
- Engagement: our community, local, national, and international,
is our classroom, our laboratory, and the place where we work together to
meet the needs of society.
- Technology: harnessing to power of technology to advance learning and
These five elements provide connections and synergy across the entire
UVM experience, creating a distinctive culture throughout the institution.
Tactical Imperatives for FY2001
The strategic action plan and tactical imperatives for FY2001 are drawn
from work of the Strategic Change Process and focus on urgent issues requiring
immediate attention. This represents a subset of the many areas for attention,
redirection, and investment delineated in a number of other documents
including the 5-Year Planning Goals and Initiatives.
The work described in this plan is critically important, since it will
help UVM succeed on multiple fronts. Meeting these goals will have a positive
effect on our:
- applicant pool and retention rates
- ability to compete with other institutions
- perceived value among current and prospective students
- image, in Vermont and nationally
- development as a multicultural campus
- capacity to find sustainable sources of revenue to support essential
- ability to garner external support (government and private)
- resources available for faculty and staff compensation
To accomplish this, the University will adopt a cohesive planning and
budget process at all levels, linking college, department, and unit efforts,
the Faculty Senate Academic Program Review Process, and the university
strategic action plan. This framework will be in place by December 2000.
Review and focus academic programs.
Over time, this may mean consolidation and elimination of some programs
and strengthening of others.
- Percentage of academic programs reviewed annually
Target: 20% in FY 2002
- Strategic changes in funding related to academic programs
Target: For FY 2002, budgets of programs related
to the environment and faculty recruitment decisions resulting from the
voluntary separation program
- The Faculty Senate Academic Program Review Process, with approval targeted
for November 2000, will continue throughout this period, focused on issues
of quality and value in all academic programs.
- By January 1, 2001, the Provost, working with faculty leadership, the
appropriate deans (SNR, CALS, A&S, E&M, Medicine), and the Interim
Director of the Environmental Studies Program, will assess the funding
and administrative structure of programs related to the environment,
eliminating structural redundancies and forging collaborations. Budget
allocations for FY2002 will reflect any changes.
- By April 1, 2001, the Provost, working with faculty leadership, the
Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies, and appropriate deans,
will take steps to simplify the array of graduate programs through program
consolidation, elimination, and revision, while enhancing the quality
of those programs that continue.
- By April 1, 2001, the Provost, working with faculty leadership, appropriate
deans, and key administrators, will establish university goals for programs
serving the educational needs of adults, professionals, and non-traditional
- By January 1, 2002, the Provost, working with faculty leadership and
the appropriate deans (CALS, A&S, Medicine), will assess the funding
and administrative structure of programs related to the life
sciences, eliminating structural redundancies and forging collaborations.
Budget allocations for FY2003 will reflect any changes.
Recruit and retain an excellent
and diverse student body.
Recruiting and retaining excellent, diverse students are at the very
heart of UVM’s future. Excellence or quality in this context begins with
academic ability, but also includes diversity, social commitment and involvement,
special talents (creative, artistic, etc.), and geographic/international
representation. Competition for these students is intense, and we must
invest in and employ a variety of new and effective strategies if we are
to meet our objectives. Our ability to accomplish this task is a key to
our success as a university.
- Size of undergraduate applicant pool with sustained applicant quality
Target: Increase pool for Fall 2002 by 7%
- Yield of undergraduate applicants in specific areas:
Target: Increase yields for Vermonters, National
Merit Scholars, and students of color
- Overall student retention rate from first year to second year
Target: Target: Increase of one percentage point
- Student retention rate for specific populations to ensure quality and
excellence (i.e. high GPA, students of color, etc.)
Target: Target: Improve on current general
retention rate in each specific area
- By November 1, 2000, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education,
working with key administrators, will establish a full tuition scholarship
program for Vermont's strongest students, beginning with the entering
class for Fall 2001.
- By December 1, 2000, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education,
working with key community members, will identify strategies to improve
the quality (academic ability and diversity) of the entering class for
- Increase funding of scholarships in FY2002.
- Implement new strategies to increase prospect and applicant pools,
including greater and more effective use of technology.
- Develop targeted recruitment approaches for high-ability students,
including a special strategy for talented Vermont students.
- Increase opportunities for honors work.
- Develop partnerships with targeted secondary schools with large populations
of students of color.
- By March 1, 2001, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, working
with key administrators, faculty, staff and students, will address issues
of student retention, with a target of improving retention rates for
1st and 2nd year students by 1 percentage point per year for the next
- Analyze why students are leaving and from which programs, schools,
colleges; take steps to address identified problems.
- Coordinate first year programs across colleges and schools.
- Implement selected recommendations from the Senate and the Strategic
Change Work Groups to improve faculty advising and mentoring across
- Train staff to provide services and advice to an increasingly diverse
Increase diversity at UVM and better support existing
people and programs
The University has an Affirmative Action Plan and that plan sets forth
hiring goals for ALANA persons in accordance with applicable federal law,
including Executive Order 11246. The University seeks to widen the diversity
of its applicant pools, thereby increasing the likelihood that qualified
ALANA people will be hired. The University has had great difficulty in attracting
and retaining ALANA faculty and staff. It is time to focus more on implementing
ideas we already have and less on generating and discussing new ones. Particular
emphasis will be put on the recruitment and retention of ALANA people.
- The proportion of new appointments meeting or exceeding the goals set
forth in the University’s Affirmative Action Plan
Target: Progress towards established goals.
- Retention of ALANA faculty and staff
Target: Match or exceed overall retention rate
for all UVM faculty and staff
- Beginning September 1, 2000, the Provost will assign recruitment resources
based in part upon the potential for creating diverse applicant pools.
- Beginning September 1, 2000, the Provost and Vice Presidents will include
performance in increasing diversity in candidate pools in the annual
reviews of all hiring officials.
- By November 1, 2000, the Provost and Vice Presidents will appoint affirmative
action liaisons in each college and/or division to seek advice for and
monitor hiring efforts; appropriate training will by provided by the
Office of Affirmative Action.
- By January 1, 2001, the Special Advisor to the Provost or her designee
will begin exit interviews of ALANA faculty and staff to determine their
reasons for leaving the University. These exit interviews will be coordinated
with related institutional initiatives. Information gathered in exit
interviews may assist the University in devising strategies for increasing
retention of its ALANA employees.
- By January 1, 2001, the Special Advisor to the Provost and the Affirmative
Action Officer begin interviewing ALANA persons who receive, but decline,
offers of employment at the University. Information gathered during these
interviews may assist the University in addressing barriers (internal
and external to the University) of which the University is not currently
- By January 1, 2001, the Special Advisor to the Provost and the Affirmative
Action Officer, working with the Human Resources and Training and Development,
will develop a mandatory training program for all managers and supervisors
to support the retention of ALANA faculty and staff. Training of the
current workforce is to be completed by January 1, 2002 and subsequent
training will be provided, as appropriate, as a part of new employee
- By March 1, 2001, working closely with the Offices of Affirmative Action
and Institutional Studies, each college or division will produce a profile
of its existing workforce, a 2-year historical analysis of its hires,
terminations and promotions, and a projection of anticipated vacancies
and hiring opportunities to be reviewed by the President and the Provost.
Increase Financial Strength.
For some years, UVM’s sustainable sources of revenue have not fully supported
essential expenditures. This is one of the reasons we fall short in terms
of perceived value among current and prospective students, while we engage
in a continuous struggle to do all we are doing with limited resources.
The effort to increase financial strength will entail cost cutting, eliminating
duplication and inefficiency, reengineering services and activities, generating
new revenue, and ensuring that all we do is of high quality and critical
to fulfilling our mission as a university. We need to maximize revenue,
by improving our performance in generating endowment and other investment
income, gifts, indirect cost reimbursement, and tuition revenue. Accomplishing
this goal will create opportunities for strategic investment in targeted
areas, as well as allow us to better address longstanding problems such
as faculty and staff compensation. Fiscal conditions are evidence of the
success of other university actions (i.e. increased enrollment and retention,
research, instructional quality, program review, capital campaign, etc.).
Tuition will continue as the major single source of university revenue.
Efforts to increase student outcomes in recruitment, retention and graduation
will enhance financial stability. Thus, quality contributes to financial
- Net tuition per student
Target: Net tuition per student should increase annually
- Net tuition dependency ration
Target: Net tuition revenue to equal less than
60% of operating income.
- Endowment per student
Target: Exceed endowment per FTE student average for Public
Research Extensive Universities
- State appropriation
Target: State support should equal 25% of general fund
revenue by FY 2006
Target: Increases should improve faculty and staff compensation
relative to its peers
- Number of UVM employees
Target: Number of employees should decrease reflecting
the Voluntary Separation Program, budget reductions, and other university
work redesign efforts
(Proposed measures related to enrollment may be found under Recruit
and retain an excellent and diverse student body.)
- Based upon FY2001 budget reductions, by October 1, 2000, the deans
will recommend programs for consideration and change over a three-year
period. Increases in retention and recruitment will lead to investments
of new resources in targeted academic programs based on established
- By October 1, 2000, initial budget parameters for FY2002 will be set
to delineate further reductions in college, school, and division budgets,
revenue enhancements where appropriate, and strategic investments in
targeted areas, reflecting the priorities of the strategic plan.
- By January 1, 2001, the Vice President for University Relations and
Operations, working with key administrators, will take initial steps
leading to further reductions in administrative costs over a three-year
period, while maintaining or enhancing services central to our mission.
- Establish a university-wide system for assessment and action, including
unit plans, performance measures, workflow analysis, and evaluation criteria.
- Implement priority redesign initiatives, including major processes
involving multiple units.
- Identify technology needs and technology-driven redesign opportunities.
- By January 1, 2001, the Division of Student Affairs will recommend
reductions in general fund expenditures over a three-year period.
- Assess overall student affairs offerings to determine the appropriate
scope, quality and focus for UVM.
- Begin elimination of program components that do not provide strategic
benefit to UVM.
- Implement strategies to enhance programs that provide strategic benefit
- By October 1, 2001, budget parameters for FY2003 will be set reflecting
the priorities of the strategic plan. These parameters will also incorporate
experience with redesigned instructional and administrative operations
and improvements in revenue measures such as improved retention.
- Build and strengthen UVM’s image and external support.
- Research indicates that UVM’s image is ambiguous and unclear. Such
a relative blank slate leaves room for negative images (e.g. "party school")
to receive inordinate attention, damaging UVM’s academic reputation.
This issue is closely intertwined with our ability to take advantage
of significant untapped potential in the fundraising/external support
arena, and success will require investment to create additional capacity
to improve in this area.
- Stakeholder perceptions as compared and contrasted with the university's
Target: See fourth action step below
- Number of donors and dollars contributed.
Target: Achievement of goals set through the campaign planning
- Lifelong relationship index (measure of involvement).
Target: Increase by 10 percentage points the number of
alumni with university involvement over the life of the campaign
- By September 1, 2000, the Vice Presidents for University Relations
and Operations and for Development and Alumni Relations will finalize
the strategy for image development, including identification of resources
to support this work.
- Assuming an adequate resource base, by September 1, 2000, the university
will engage outside resources for image development, dissemination efforts,
and related research.
- By January 1, 2001, the Vice Provost for Research will take initial
steps to enhance research capacity in selected areas consonant with
the university’s mission and priorities (e.g. biomedical sciences, environmental
science and policy), leading to increased revenues.
- By April 1, 2001, a mix of print, oral and electronic strategies to
enhance communication with the university's overall constituent family
and targeted prospect segments will be identified.
- By April 1, 2001, develop methodology to assess degree of connection
between perceived and desired image of the university on an ongoing
- By April 1, 2001, the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations,
working with senior leadership, will develop the draft case for support
of a focused list of funding priorities emanating from the strategic
planning process at the university and the college/school/program levels.
- By July 1, 2001, define and finalize desired image through an assessment
of current perceptions, current strengths and strategic goals.
- By July 1, 2001, the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations,
a campaign planning study task force, and outside counsel will complete
a campaign planning study and finalize the funding strategy.
These tactical imperatives represent a series of first steps, taken within
the context of longer-range strategic thinking and action. As the results
of these imperatives are realized, they will guide and inform subsequent
choices and decisions. Again, such decisions will be based on the fundamental
framework outlined at the outset of this document.
1UVM's many strengths include:
- A distinguished history as one of New England's first universities,
and sustained intellectual rigor and academic excellence
- An effective blend of liberal and professional education
- Moderate size, coupled with a variety of schools that provide the features
of a comprehensive university, but on a human scale
- An excellent faculty engaged in the creation and application of new
knowledge, with a strong commitment to teaching and working closely
- A highly competent, motivated staff
- A mixture of fine undergraduate and graduate students from Vermont,
the nation, and the world, who combine a strong commitment to academic
life with extensive community service and involvement in outdoor activities
- A campus set in a beautiful location and with a balance of historical
buildings and new facilities
- Carefully managed finances throughout the University
- Enthusiastic and supportive alumni and significant potential for additional
2 Specific challenges in these
- Declines in the size of our applicant pool and retention rates
- Increasingly intense external competition from other educational providers
- Weaker than appropriate perceptions of value relative to price
- Ambiguity in our image, including our "party school" reputation
- Less progress than we desire in increasing diversity
- Lower than needed sustainable sources of revenue
- Finding ways to reduce duplication and inefficiency in programs and
- Fully realizing fundraising potential
- Less competitive than desirable compensation levels for faculty and