UA strategic plan to connect students to Tucson community
Andrew Comrie, UA interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, and J.C. Mutchler, chairman of the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee held a town hall meeting Friday to review the UA’s strategic plan.
According to a draft from December of last year, the plan seeks to “expand student experience, advance knowledge through creative inquiry and collaboration, and to forge novel connections that will impact our community.”
To expand on student experience, Comrie spoke about the UA teaching students experiential knowledge, which is the ability to integrate knowledge learned during a lecture with participating in or simulating a potential job.
“It allows you take your book knowledge and put it together using real world problematic challenges,” Comrie said. “That’s very hard to do for 30,000 undergraduates because it’s pretty labor intensive. Now we do have some ways, such as internships. But it’s really something for juniors.”
In order to combat this problem, the strategic plan is intended to integrate students by offering more than just internships. Students, Comrie suggested, should be offered more hands on experience in classes, work in the community, research opportunities and having outside company involvement at the UA.
Comrie explained that the UA wants to redefine the conventional land grant mission statement, as the original statement said a land grant school should focus on teaching agriculture, science, military science, and engineering.
“These days it’s really about any kind of knowledge base or expertise for making the world work better,” Comrie said.
To increase the UA’s community impact, Comrie explained that the strategic plan outlines increasing the capacity in fields of education, health sciences, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Broadening such programs across the state to address workforce shortages is a key point in this part of the plan, said Comrie.
Fueling Arizona’s economy ties along with the community impact’s aspect of the plan. Comrie explained that it is important to invest in UA startups.
Pamela Sutherland, economic development director for Downtown Tucson Partnership asked how the UA plans to integrate downtown more. Comrie used the example of creating a degree plan downtown.
Jan Cervelli, dean of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, asked Comrie what part of the plan he is most excited for. Comrie said he was looking forward to the student engagement.
“We have a cute phrase, which is ‘Get ‘em, keep ‘em, graduate ‘em,’” Comrie said. “It’s the ‘keep ‘em’ part that’s really important.”