11/7/2013: Letter from President Gottfredson and Interim Provost Coltrane to faculty, on benchmarking and a new academic plan. The links include documents shared with the new UO Board. Presumably they will soon announce efforts to involve the Senate and Union leadership.
As a comprehensive research university and a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the University of Oregon stands among the top 62 high-intensity research universities in North America, and the top 34 public universities. We are well positioned to distinguish ourselves further. To this end, we are taking a critical look at where we stand currently in relation to the top institutions in the country.
We celebrate the remarkable work being done on our campus that positions us among the highest-ranking universities in the world. We are continually impressed by the quality and dedication of our faculty and staff; the significance of the research, scholarship, and creative inquiry being produced on our campus; and the intellectual curiosity and engagement of our students. We acknowledge that your accomplishments have occurred in the context of the significant challenges posed by declining state funding and increased enrollment. Imagine what we’ll achieve with more faculty, better support for research and graduate students, and enhanced facilities, which are all among our highest strategic priorities.
With our new governing board structure and continuing shared governance we have an extraordinary opportunity to ensure that the UO is competitive with the finest universities in the nation. We are about to embark on a strategic planning process to focus intently on refinancing our organization and elevating the stature of our university.
To advance this goal, we asked Brad Shelton, vice provost for Budget and Planning, to chair a committee to update the data that show us where we stand in relation to our AAU peers. As you know, we have measured ourselves for some time in relation to the OUS set of eight AAU public research universities (University of Michigan; University of Washington; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Iowa; Indiana University; University of Virginia; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Vice Provost Shelton led a committee that included Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for Research and dean of the Graduate School; Yvette Alex-Assensoh, vice president for Equity and Inclusion; Roger Thompson, vice president for Enrollment Management; Frances Bronet, dean of the College of Architecture and Allied Arts; Karen Sprague, then vice provost for Undergraduate Studies; and Mike Bullis, then dean of the College of Education; with input from others.
This committee produced a benchmarking report, which we shared on the Senior Vice President and Provost’s website this week, that compares the UO with our AAU public peers on several metrics. Used along with other tools, it provides empirical evidence we need to inform our decisions moving forward. The metrics identify some areas of remarkable strength, including a high percentage of female tenure-track faculty members and the significant number of books published by our faculty. The report also identifies areas in which we should improve, including our faculty–student ratio, the number of graduate students we support, and the resources we have available to invest in students and research. Not surprisingly, the comparative data show that our public peers are better funded than we are.
We are sharing this information with our new trustees as they prepare to participate in the governance of the institution, and with you, as we embark on a planning process that depends on the active participation of our campus community. You may download the orientation notebook we prepared for our trustees, which includes a variety of information about the UO, from the Board of Trustees website.
Our goals for improvement remain aspirational, but attainable. The UO has a rich history of creativity, scholarship, and scientific achievement and a well-deserved reputation for delivering high-quality education to the people of Oregon. As we go forward, we will need to make strategic adjustments to focus additional resources where they will be the most effective. As we embark on a campus-wide process of identifying objectives linked to the values articulated in our academic plan, there will be opportunities for everyone to participate. We look forward to working together with the entire UO community as we set new goals for the future.
Michael Gottfredson, President
Scott Coltrane, Interim Senior Vice President and Provost