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University Planning Advisory Council



UPAC Charge

UPAC Members 06-07

Vision, Values, Mission, and Goals

Interim Progress Report - 2005

Progress Report Appendix - 2005

NCA Chapter 5

VVMG 2001-2006


Chapter 5
The University of Denver: Embracing the next Decade

The self-studies prepared for the NCA and the external reviews arranged by the NCA have served the University of Denver well. Ten years ago they precipitated a strategic planning process that culminated in a statement of mission and goals that the Board of Trustees approved in 1992. Our introductory section presented that statement of mission and goals and Chapter 1 discussed them at length. That statement of purpose strongly influenced our priorities and decision-making throughout the decade. Building upon it, in 1993 and 1994 the Provost convened a Strategic Initiatives Campaign that ultimately motivated approximately 170 faculty members to propose 192 specific initiatives. Some of those attracted funding in our capital campaign, individuals and groups of champions implemented many other proposed initiatives even without extraordinary funding, and still others have served us well as intellectual fodder for action across the institution.

The purpose of this chapter is to review what we have learned about ourselves in the process of the current self study and to consider how we might build upon that enhanced self-understanding. We want to build a great university. How far have we come? What might be some of the most useful next steps?

1. Transformation and the Challenges of Managing Change

Transformation characterized the University during the decade of the 1990s. Among our achievements in the last decade that this study has detailed throughout are:

  • Significant enhancement of undergraduate education. Specifics include the continuing evolution of our interdisciplinary Core Curriculum, curricular innovation and technological enhancements, the development of five Living-Learning Communities, the implementation of an extensive University Mentoring Program, the development of Partners in Scholarship (PINS), the creation of a Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, and the adoption of an Honor Code.

  • Extension of graduate and professional education. Among the elements are the development of an array of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary programs that draw upon and combine the resources of liberal arts programs and professional schools, substantial growth in the number of graduate and professional students, the significant expansion of programs for life-long learning, an initiation of distance education, and growth in the volume of funded research and sponsored instruction.

  • Creation of a significant number of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary centers and institutes at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Most of these establish connections not just across the University, but also between the University and broader communities.

  • Expansion of our educational focus beyond traditional undergraduate and graduate education. Not only has there been significant growth in stand-alone life-long learning programs, but there is increasing integration of such programs with more traditional programs, especially at the graduate and professional level. In addition we have added educational programs from the nursery through high school.

  • Use of technology to enhance education. Examples include wiring of the entire campus with optic fiber, adoption of wireless network access in many locations, provision of computers to all faculty, the introduction of laptop requirements for incoming undergraduates and MBA students, creation of the Center for Teaching and Learning and its program of initiatives, dramatic transformations in the technology of library systems, establishment of the Office for Educational Technology to support faculty in creating customized courseware and developing on-line courses, and wide-spread adoption by faculty of curriculum-supportive software. In addition, the Extended Learning division of the University was recently established to provide a centralized location to develop and administer distance education offerings.

  • Initiation of assessment and quality enhancement systems. The University created the Office of Assessment, and all academic units have developed assessment plans. The effort to feedback assessment to quality enhancement has begun. In addition the Vice Chancellor of Financial Affairs has introduced regularized benchmarking for administrative systems.

  • Elevation of all intercollegiate sports to NCAA Division I status in a spectacular new facility. That facility has simultaneously helped to recruit excellent student-athletes, greatly expand club sports, individual fitness training, and community connection.

  • Undertaking the most impressive building campaign in the history of the University. Major initiatives include the Leo Block Alumni Center, the Olin Science Building, the Daniels College of Business, the Ritchie Wellness Center, and the massive Sturm Hall refurbishment. The National Cable Television Center and Museum has risen on land leased from the University. Further, the University purchased a former Greek residence and converted it into the new home of the Office of Internationalization. The foundations were literally laid or plans were made for a new performing arts facility, a new Women�s College building, a new College of Law, and a new residence hall. Definitely not least, the University dramatically reduced the backlog of deferred maintenance, and the campus appearance improved dramatically.

  • Initiation of and significant progress in a major computer system conversion that will replace disparate data management systems with an integrated one and thereby lay the foundation for significant changes in both business and academic practice.

  • Delivery of balanced budgets for 10 years. The implementation and consolidation of a revenue-center management system that connects programmatic authority with fiscal responsibility has provided the institutional backbone of that accomplishment. It has also created large gain-share balances for discretionary investment by academic units.

  • Significant enhancement of our regional reputation. Although we have no survey measurement of our regional reputation, there is much reason to believe that it has risen significantly: the volume and character of press coverage, the attendance at and response to University fund-raising events (like the Law School�s All Stars and GSIS Korbel dinners), the disproportionate rise in applications from within the region, the extent of University-community, two-way connections, and the ad hoc impressions of DU faculty and staff in their external interactions.

  • Capitalizing on new opportunities in undergraduate recruitment and admission. As a result of many of the changes just described, particularly the renewed emphasis on undergraduate education proposed in the 1992 Mission and Goals, the University is enjoying the luxury of abundant undergraduate applications. The Fall 2000 first-year, first-time class is the largest in almost 20 years. The Office of Admission declined deposits and stopped admitting transfer students earlier than normal this year out of concern for maintaining the quality and character of the undergraduate experience. We anticipate this situation will continue in the near future, allowing us to shape the entering class in ways we have not been able to do in the past. We are using this experience to plan for a sustainable undergraduate enrollment, with an understanding of the changing demographics of high school graduates in the next decade.

Managing such change obviously poses great challenges. Across the last decade we managed change with the help of several important decisions and fortuitous developments. The traumatic economic challenges that began early in the decade of the 1980s led to some of the most important decisions: the introduction of new leadership in a new leadership system (notably the Chancellor/Provost model) and the adoption of a new management model (revenue-center budgeting).

The dedication and sacrifice of the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor provided some of the most fortuitous developments, notably a capital campaign that increased assets of the University by more than $240 million. The Chancellor, the Board, and University supporters have rebuilt the foundation. At the same time, the Chancellor and the Provost have consistently supported the maintenance and strengthening of the community and its commitment to the institutional mission. Strong and able leadership has guided the institution throughout the decade.

We believe that the last decade has been an outstanding period for the University, full of accomplishments of which we can be proud. We should not deceive ourselves, however, into believing that we have addressed all of the long-standing challenges to the institution or that new ones have not arisen. In the course of our reflection, we have identified some of the key challenges:

  • Governing change is always a challenge, even under strong leadership. Not all decisions of the last decade have been unquestioned, and many community members have felt themselves to be observers (even when beneficiaries), rather than participants in setting direction. Governance is an ongoing issue, as it is in many or most universities. How do we maintain strong direction and responsiveness to a rapidly changing environment and yet also take advantage of collective wisdom and insight?

  • Change in any organization may not always be consistent with institutional mission and identity. Moreover, protecting continuity in values can be as important as managing change. The creation or reinforcement of solid business practices and an entrepreneurial environment are not universally seen as consistent with traditional academic values and mission. One recurring question is whether our new management models and practices reinforce or challenge academic quality, one of our most central values, and how they can be better made to reinforce it. This challenge has many manifestations: How do we balance the academic and entrepreneurial dimensions of the institution? Exactly what is our identity? What is the character of a truly good education? How do we assess quality?

  • People are at the heart of any institution and the University is a community. Throughout our discussion, the importance of maintaining and strengthening our community has been an ongoing theme. The deliberate use of adjuncts changes the historic character and mix of the faculty. How do we support adjuncts� role and integrate them into the community? How do we increase the diversity of the community? How do we reach out to broader communities and preserve our own? How do we realize the key role of strategic human resource planning, including the potential of well-managed staff development and the morale-building possibilities of an overall compensation philosophy?

  • Planning in the face of change, and with recognition of the need for continuity, is a growing challenge for all educational institutions and relates again to governance. We need planning in multiple arenas, from physical and financial resources to academic priorities, and we need to integrate these multiple arenas. How do we assure that we are, in reality, a community of students, staff, and faculty united in pursuit of a mission in which we (as much as possible) all believe, and also take advantage of the continued dedication and leadership of the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, and the Provost? How are faculty brought into the planning process in active ways? How do we maintain flexibility of action, guided by key principles and values, at the same time that we are systematic about monitoring our environment and our performance and setting new goals for ourselves?

It is important to us that our direction be consistent with our mission. Assuring that consistency requires both evaluation of our direction and revisiting of our mission. After a decade of very rapid change and in the face of another decade where transformation will be no less rapid, the University viewed the need to prepare a self study for the North Central Association as an occasion for taking stock. From the beginning of our preparation for an external visiting team, we recognized that it should be an occasion for looking at our history, but also for thinking about our future.

In our efforts to address the challenges of change and the need for forward-looking action, the NCA Steering Committee divided its own two years of effort quite equally into looking at our history and performance, and thinking about our future. In the first year the steering committee began by scanning the environment for key forces that shape our prospects (both challenges and opportunities) and considering the character of recent University responses to that external context. We reviewed our history, and we discussed our identity. In the second year, we focused heavily on thinking about our future. We spent a great deal of time that year discussing our character and how that character makes us similar to or different from other institutions. We tried to identify appropriate directions for goal-setting by the institution and its components.

That process of self-reflection and looking forward within the steering committee set in motion and served as foundation for a broader institutional conversation about our future, a conversation that rippled out to the Deans Council, the Senior Staff (academic and administrative), and the larger community. That conversation and the process it has initiated is by no means complete. The rest of this chapter will convey the status of it and our plans for it, beginning with a recapitulation of the discussions within the steering committee and moving to a presentation of the plans for foresight and change management at the University.

2. The Foundational Efforts of the NCA Process

As we began discussing the future of the University and a strategic plan (a nomenclature and mindset that we are now replacing with foresight and change management) in the Steering Committee, there were four important questions that helped us focus our efforts. These are:

  1. Who are we and how do we differ from others? We need to reappraise our mission and goals, taking into account how our identity and purposes have evolved over the past decade.

  2. In what context do we operate? We need to take into account current external and internal challenges: the changing nature of knowledge and higher education, our competition, the needs of students today, unresolved internal issues, and options for improving our resources to support necessary change and maintain important current commitments.

  3. What should we look like in 5-10 years? We must tie our most compelling identity themes and our strengths to external opportunities, with a willingness to change where necessary. We need to develop a framework of priority goals that will link academic programming to a few major directional choices that will clearly define our academic quality and competitiveness.

  4. How should we achieve our goals? We need to identify clear priorities and an action plan so that we can identify the necessary resources needed to accomplish our goals with a unified sense of purpose.

Because the Steering Committee is composed of community members from all academic units, many administrative ones and the Board of Trustees, it was viewed as the appropriate body at that time to discuss planning issues and the above four questions. These discussions, though perhaps not what some would characterize as grass-roots level, were organic, candid and often impassioned. Multiple viewpoints were expressed, honored and integrated into draft documents. The following sections briefly review the year-long process we undertook.

2.1 Mission

Knowing that a University-wide discussion with all constituents surrounding a reexamination of our mission and goals would be necessary, the Steering Committee elected not to begin with the question of the ongoing appropriateness of our mission statement. Instead, that group chose to focus on identity themes and planning goals that might inform a revised mission statement for the next decade. Those themes and broad goals identified by this group could be used as a basis for ongoing discussion of the mission statement that would best serve us into the 21st century. Though this tactic may be unconventional, it was intentional.

2.2 External and Internal Contexts

Early in the self study process, the Steering Committee drafted and distributed two documents to all academic and administrative units on campus. These documents, summarized here (full text in Appendix Intro.F), deal with the challenges posed by the external higher education context and DU�s internal evolution in response to those challenges. Though the Steering Committee planning discussions more often focused on our internal environment than the external challenges, these issues did remain salient throughout our year-long discussion. Three major contextual issues-Changing Perceptions of Value in Education, Increasing Cost and Threats to Student Access, and Advancing Technology-shape the challenges the University of Denver currently faces and will continue to face into the next century. The first section of this chapter refers in a broad sense to DU�s responses to the external challenges described here.

  • Changing Perceptions of Value in Education. There is growing pressure from the public and from governmental bodies to provide real and measurable value for educational expenditures. There are, however, at least two debates that surround definition and measurement of value, which are often framed in terms of different definitions or understandings concerning the quality of education. The first pits those who emphasize the long-term value of general and liberal education against those (perhaps in the ascendancy) who focus on the immediate value of more market-relevant skills. The second debate is about the measurement of value. The more traditional approach emphasizes the reputation of the institution: average test scores of entering students, spending per student, and reputation of faculty. The increasingly popular alternative emphasizes the value added by the education that the institution provides, often in terms of educating the whole person. The concern with defining value in education has implications for DU. In general, what should be our primary indicators of �quality� and �reputation,� and how can we improve them? What is the best strategy for DU to ensure that we establish credibility in the marketplace and increase our reputation?

  • Increasing Cost of Higher Education and Threats to Student Access. There is a growing fiscal crisis in higher education in the U.S. The price of higher education has been rising faster than average income and projections are for the gap to continue. Either the pool of students who can afford higher education will shrink or universities must contain and, some say, even reduce costs. Many families do seem willing to contribute a larger portion of their disposable income to higher education and the recent strong economy enables more of them to do just that. However, we have seen many manifestations of the growing financial pressure, including high student borrowing and debt load, a high percentage of students who must work part-time to afford college, and upward pressure on our discount rates. The cost issue has many consequences for DU that we must consider. In general, how can we ensure competitive access to the University into the 21st century and the financial health of the institution, all the while continuing to improve the quality of the educational experience?

  • Advancing Technology. Computer-based, digital information and communication technology are advancing at such rapid rates that they promise (or threaten) to fundamentally reshape educational institutions with respect to management systems, the character of scholarship and research, and the nature of teaching and learning. New competitors in the form of for-profit and corporate educational entities are also utilizing technology to expedite the education and training of employees. The rapidly growing popularity of web-based education helps meet the demand for �distributed education,� shifted in time and space to meet the desires and needs of students (see again the pressures of costs and the demand for value). These issues have many implications for DU. In general, how do we use the new technology to enhance the value of the education we deliver and meet the challenge of old and new competition without bankrupting ourselves by making wrong decisions about the direction or speed of change and without compromising the integrity of our academic programs?

2.3 Identity and Vision

The Steering Committee discussions of the 1999-2000 academic year did not focus explicitly on vision, per se, but on identity themes and University characteristics that make us distinctive. These concepts were discussed with an eye to the future and to what unifies us as an institution. A real effort was made by members of the committee to move beyond historical divisiveness and protection of �turf� to a view of the University as just that - a unified institution of higher education that is more than the sum of its parts. The committee reflected on the University�s strengths and opportunities for growth and drafted numerous versions of the following statement. This draft statement was sent to all faculty, staff and administrators with a memo requesting feedback, either in person at one of three community meetings or via the web site established for the self study process. Because of subsequent events described in section 3 of this chapter, this statement of identity will likely not remain in its current version. However, the work of the Steering Committee needs to be recognized as laying the groundwork for the Provost�s Planning Retreat described later in this chapter. Following is the identity statement drafted by the Steering Committee:

    Building on our successes in the past decade, we set goals that will enhance our distinctive identity as the premier private university in the Rocky Mountain West. Our location in the Rocky Mountain West gives us a pioneering identity and imbues us with a real spirit of place.

    We expect to transform ourselves and the world around us. Toward this end, we value clear thinking and plain speaking. We are friendly and open to new people and new ideas. We enjoy the outdoors and protect nature's heritage. We innovate across traditional boundaries and give everyone the chance to succeed. We embrace change and are willing to question the status quo. We are spirited individuals who value our diverse community because we understand the need for support from this community and our obligation, in turn, to make it a stronger one.

    As we pursue the following goals, we will build upon and even more strongly articulate our identity:

  • To foster an innovative relationship between liberal and professional education and research;

  • To reinforce the relationship between teacher, scholar, and student through an emphasis on the university as a community of life-long learning and discovery;

  • To strengthen a culture of civic engagement within our University and build upon that to further engage local, regional, national, and global communities.

3. Creating a Planning Framework for DU

As we looked at ourselves throughout the self-study process, a number of questions were raised about the University�s approach to major decisions about University direction. One set of questions focused on the roles of various campus constituencies in decision-making. Another arose from a perceived need for a more formalized ongoing planning structure and process.

Discussions about these questions emerged in Subcommittee meetings and reports, in the Steering Committee, and also in ongoing leadership groups on campus (in particular, the Faculty Senate, the Council of Deans, and the Senior Staff). The self-study became the occasion for awareness of how far we have come during the past decade and recognition of our desire for a widely shared intentional future. We became more aware of how DU�s long history of programmatic diversity has been central to our strength even as it has created inevitable tensions. We saw the need for continued shaping, for protection and further development of our resources, and for understanding of what connects us - and we wrestled with questions of how each of us appropriately fits into those processes.

In short, the self-study process provided the opportunity to �look up� from the intense efforts we have been involved in individually over the past decade and begin to understand something about their combined effects. We saw that the University is in very different circumstances than it was ten years ago. Even so, we realized it retains many of the qualities that have characterized it throughout its history. We are ambitious, irrepressible, thoroughly committed to our students, our region, and our world. We believe and know we can make a difference. We want to understand how to do that together, how to collectively contribute to and take advantage of a vital future in ways that fit us. We want to protect and interpret our heritage in new circumstances, and we want to maintain and extend the gains we have made.

The Provost began a new level of dialogue on these topics by inviting an expanded group of over forty individuals to a two-day planning retreat on August 14th and 15th, 2000. The members of the NCA Steering Committee, the Council of Deans, the Provost�s Staff, the Senior Staff and the Chancellor were invited (Appendix 5.A lists invitees, participants and contains the retreat record).

The group was charged with using the work of the NCA process, then nearing completion, to help shape a vision for the University�s future. The retreat was co-facilitated by a consultant who is familiar with the University and by a senior faculty member from the College of Education. After welcoming the group and providing opening remarks, both the Provost and the Chancellor assumed the roles of retreat participants along with the other members of the group.

In his welcoming remarks, the Provost posed the following questions as the context for the meeting:

  • Can this group seize the opportunity to create a vision of DU that builds upon the foundational work of the NCA self-study?

  • Can we agree on a timeline and a way of bringing our vision, in the form of a new or revised statement of mission and goals, to the Board of Trustees by June, 2001?

  • Can we improve the way we use planning for decision-making?

  • Can we establish a more inclusive ongoing structure for planning at DU?

Retreat participants had read draft NCA documents prior to arriving, particularly the chapters on the University�s history and the University�s future. The first facilitated- discussion used these documents as a foundation, as participants were asked to describe what stood out as they thought about the University�s longer history, its more recent history, and its present situation. The second session moved into expression of participants� visions of the University�s desired future. During the final session of the first day, participants divided into nine small groups. Each group developed a draft vision statement around one of nine thematic areas that had emerged in the vision discussions: (1) the image and attractiveness of the University; (2) the University as a caring community; (3) global commitment and presence; (4) the importance of place (campus, city, state, and region); (5) teaching and learning; (6) student development and talent development; (7) research and scholarship; (8) technology and cyber education; and (9) the University�s infrastructure.

During the evening of the first day, a small task force created a consolidated draft vision statement from the work of the nine thematic groups. The consolidated draft statement follows:

University of Denver Draft Vision Statement
August, 2000
Provost�s Planning Retreat

    Rooted in the spirit of the Rocky Mountain West, DU will be known for its boldness and innovation, its character and leadership, and its dynamic community. These qualities will excite and attract students, faculty, staff, employers, neighbors, and friends who will connect with us with enthusiasm and pride.

    DU will attract students for a lifetime of intellectual, social and ethical growth. We will offer each student individualized opportunities for membership in communities of learning that will include stimulating student-centered classroom encounters, experiential learning, civic engagement, and the use of cutting-edge educational technologies.

    The experiences provided by a broad range of curricular and co-curricular environments on campus and in the community will cultivate in students reflective and critical judgment, the ability to negotiate differences, and demonstrated personal integrity.

    At DU, discovery and learning will be inseparable. Research and scholarship will be integrative, multidisciplinary, and collaborative. Partnerships within the University and beyond will enhance this inquiry process.

    DU will prepare students to achieve distinction in an interdependent world by attracting outstanding international students and scholars, and by providing faculty and students with unmatched opportunities to study, teach, and work abroad.

    DU will be distinguished by day-to-day expressions of respect, mutual support, and caring. Our shared ethical values and relationships will be demonstrated through inclusiveness across our diverse communities.

    Infrastructure and support functions will be of high quality, flexible, and responsive and will be created in a professional manner to optimize the University�s vision.

4. Next Steps

Key tasks remain, including finalizing a vision statement and creating a renewed statement of mission and long-range goals that bind us together as a unique institution, even as we celebrate the diversity of our traditions and the strengths of our separate programs. Following the Provost�s Planning Retreat, Provost Zaranka, with the assistance of members of his core staff and other individuals, has initiated the development of a planning approach to accomplish these goals. The approach seeks to build on the work begun in the NCA process and continued at the Planning Retreat - work focusing on coherence, connection, and collaboration. The goal is to develop planning as a dynamic, inclusive, ongoing and coordinated activity in the life of the University.

The envisioned approach includes the formation of a University Planning Advisory Council that will assist the Provost and the Chancellor in defining and leading a planning process for the University. The Council is envisioned as a leadership group, not an administrative layer. Its members will be selected primarily for their wisdom and talents, their ability to look to the future, and their knowledge and understanding of the University. They will also be academically and demographically diverse and have affiliations with other University leadership groups, such as the Board of Trustees, the Council of Deans, the Faculty Senate, Senior Staff, the Staff Advisory Council, and Student Government.

The Council will help the Provost and the Chancellor establish and continually update the University�s planning framework. Its first specific assignment will be the distillation of a statement of vision, values, mission and long-range goals based on the work of the NCA self-study process, the Provost�s Planning Retreat, and other information and opinions sought and received from the University�s constituents. The Council will not replace other planning groups, but will continually work to ensure broad community involvement in the University�s planning efforts. In fact, one of the first tasks of the Council will be to determine how it will link itself to the University community and its constituents.

The Council will advise on the development of a planning process, including the setting of annual goals and an integrated budget reflective of the higher level plan. The Council will provide advice to the Provost and Chancellor when major unforeseen opportunities arise which may not be congruent with the University plan or when significant environmental changes might threaten the University�s plan.

The Council will prepare and disseminate an annual report on the state of the University, highlighting the accomplishments of the University over the past year, updating the external context, remarking on the University�s response to unplanned opportunities, and providing an analysis on how well planning is working to achieve a desired future.

The Council will continually consider the way it works - its activities, its role vis a vis other planning groups, its mechanisms for connection with the community. It will be a vehicle to move the University forward, and an impetus for the improved performance of other leadership and planning bodies. Assessment of improvement in the process of planning for the University will be part of its charge.

In summary, the Council will be a resource to the Provost and the Chancellor by helping the various parts of the University connect and contribute to the whole of the enterprise. It will be an experiment in �providing shape� without over-controlling, in seeking coherence without eliminating local initiative and distinction. It will take time to �get it right,� and its success will be dependent upon giving it that time, providing it with support from both the top and the bottom, and selecting its members wisely.

One of the key initial challenges in front of the Council will be development of its specific agenda. Again, the work of the NCA process and Steering Committee should prove helpful. This report has repeatedly listed the challenges that the institution faces. The Steering Committee took one additional step of value. It identified two categories of goals that it believed would be likely to emerge in some form from subsequent discussion at the University, both centrally and in individual academic units. It labeled those planning goals (central to the academic mission) and infrastructure goals.

The Steering Committee elaborated those goals via a set of serious discussions of unit level self study reports and subcommittee findings. As with the identity statement, there were numerous drafts and this final one was distributed to campus community members for comment. It is worth noting the congruence between the list of eight planning goals drafted by the Steering Committee and the vision statement derived from the Provost�s Planning Retreat. Attached to this chapter as Appendix 5.B is a chart describing some possible action items that were proposed along with these planning goals.

Following is the list of planning goals derived by the Steering Committee:

  • We will aim to educate the whole student through close, personal attention.

  • We will build educational and research opportunities with special attention to our location in Denver and the Rocky Mountain West.

  • We will foster the innovative integration of liberal and professional education and research.

  • We will further reinforce the relationship between teacher, scholar, and learner through an emphasis on the University as a community of learning and discovery.

  • We will embrace innovative and more effective approaches to teaching and learning, including, where relevant, technologically-enabled instruction.

  • We will educate a more diverse domestic and international student body to meet the challenges of a global society.

  • We will extend our ability to provide continuous, life-long education.

  • We will reinforce and strengthen a culture of civic engagement within our community and build upon that to further engage a wide range of external communities.

Following is the set of infrastructure and management goals derived by the Steering Committee:

  • We will significantly enlarge our endowment to further diversify support for our academic programs beyond tuition.

  • We will review the relationship between compensation and responsibility within and across units in order to elaborate a philosophy and structure of compensation in support of our mission.

  • We will analyze procedures and criteria for hiring, developing, promoting, tenuring, and assessing faculty, staff, and administration to ensure congruence with our distinctiveness goals and our changing educational context.

  • We will support the continued professional development of our faculty to enhance the teacher-scholar model.

  • We will provide professional development for faculty members interested in extending their administrative capabilities.

  • We will support the continued professional development of our staff in order to integrate them more fully into the educational mission of the University and to prepare them for changing and expanding job expectations and opportunities.

  • We will continuously improve the way in which our physical plant supports our educational activities.

  • We will regularly upgrade our technology in support of our educational mission and administrative needs.

  • We will identify minimum levels of technical expertise for students, faculty and staff and implement programs for these constituents to enhance and maintain their skills.

  • We will create a web-based portal that integrates and strengthens our technologically-assisted educational offerings, our management, administrative, and institutional research operations, and our prospective and current student and alumni services.

  • We will regularly review and update our long-term priorities and institutionalize these priorities through ongoing academic and administrative foresight and strategic planning, making assessment of quality fundamental to the process.

  • We will include appropriate participation, collaboration and communication in our processes of decision-making and management.

  • We will assess and appropriately adjust the balance between centralization and decentralization in management and budgetary systems.

  • We will review and appropriately adjust our academic organization of knowledge into programs, departments and divisions and other administrative structures in order to achieve our educational mission.

  • We will work to break down structural barriers to cross-disciplinary and even customized education, whether those barriers be institutional, financial, or cultural.

5. Conclusion

The Introduction and Chapters 1 through 4 of this self-study Report provide evidence to demonstrate that the University has met the General Institutional Requirements and has satisfied the Criteria for Accreditation. As discussed in Chapter 1 and parts of Chapter 3, the University of Denver has clear and publicly stated purposes consistent with our mission and appropriate to an institution of higher education. Though we face some challenges with regard to our human resource organization and development as described in Chapter 2, in general, Criterion 2 is satisfied, especially with regard to the effective organization of our financial and physical resources. Chapter 3 provides substantial evidence to support the University�s demonstration of the accomplishment of our educational and other purposes. In its consideration of a sustainable future, Chapter 4 describes the University�s stable financial condition that contributes to the continuation of our accomplishments and even strengthening of our educational effectiveness. We have referenced Criterion 5 in Chapter 2 and in supporting materials, documenting where we demonstrate integrity in our practices and relationships.

At this juncture, the University is poised to capitalize on the momentum generated by the self study process and seriously evaluate our future direction. As we have previously stated, the opportunity for self-reflection and evaluation of our future afforded by this process was integral from its inception. The Steering Committee spent a full academic year wrestling with identity and planning issues. As a result of this and other discussion around planning and the accreditation process, the Provost�s Planning Retreat was held. Building on both the Steering Committee discussions and the Planning Retreat, a proposal for a University-wide, participatory planning process evolved.

By virtue of its locations and origins, and reinforced by the fact of a modest endowment, the University of Denver has long struggled to define itself in the constellation of institutions of higher education. We have been subject to wide swings of fortune with those of the region and the larger nation. In the last decade, the fortunes of both the region and the University have dramatically improved. Moreover, the foundations of both seem more diverse, richer and more solid than ever before. Throughout this Report, we have discussed some key questions that remain for us to consider. Can we take advantage of our particular configuration of academic programs (for our size of institution) to create real synergies between graduate/professional education and undergraduate education? Can we integrate our emphasis on whole person development with a renewed focus on high quality academic programs to achieve a truly distinguished and valuable educational experience for students? Are we prepared for the very real implications for our community and campus culture of our decisions about increases in revenue coming from endowment or from growth in student populations?

The University of Denver is riding waves of change sweeping across higher education. We seek to define ourselves and our desired response to that change, rather than being passive in the face of it. As a learning community, our challenge is to seize this opportunity to respond to the central question that will define our future: our identity. Will the University greatly enhance its endowment and financial stability and choose to become a more traditional educational institution? Will it continue in its historic direction of entrepreneurial, market-driven programming? Will it be intentional about blending community connections with an intellectual depth of academic programs to create a bold, new University of Denver educational model that could make us a distinctly different and better institution?

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