Arizona Advantage

Pillar 3: The Arizona Advantage

Driving Social, Cultural, and Economic Impact

Pillar Owners: Maribel Alvarez and Lehman Benson

As an Arizona land grant institution, the University can build on its unique location and people to drive social, cultural, and economic impact in the 4IR era. With the initiatives of our Arizona Advantage pillar, we leverage our remarkable differentiators to reinforce our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

More detailed information is available in the initiative descriptions below and the Pillar 3 Spring 2021 Updates. For questions, please contact the initiative owners, Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) consultants, or pillar owners.

    # initiative owner co-owner osi consultant 
3.1A  Strengthen commitment to equity and support of diverse communities Ivy Banks   Jessica Thornburg 
The University of Arizona will create engaging and empowered campus environments that inspire creativity, enhance our ability to think critically, and challenge us to approach society’s most complex problems through an inclusive lens, enriched by diverse perspectives. This paradigm shift of engaged proactive inclusion promotes active institutional transformation. The imperative for this work is not just about the future of higher education and UArizona, it is about leading the way toward a society that taps into the talents, wisdom, and strengths that all individuals and communities possess to solve our greatest problems. Our projects embed equity into our institutional habit, emphasizing our communal commitment that Inclusive Excellence takes Every Wildcat, Every Day! Visit to learn more about this initiative.
Spring 2021 Update
Launch Date: 7/1/2020
Strategic Initiatives Fund FY22 Budget: $211,000
3.1B Institutionalize commitment to Hispanic advancement Marla Franco Andrea Romero Jessica Thornburg
The University of Arizona will become a premier destination for Hispanic learners, scholars, and partners. Leveraging important differentiators, this initiative calls for well-informed strategies that support the conditions necessary for greater access and rates of degree attainment for Hispanic learners, increasing the number of faculty focused on research and scholarship centered on issues relevant to the Hispanic community, supporting greater rates of retention and promotion among diverse faculty, increasing community based participatory action research and scholarship with the Hispanic community, and vehemently enhancing our ability to secure external grants that support the mission of this work.
Spring 2021 Update
Launch Date: 08/30/2019
Strategic Initiatives Fund FY22 Budget: $223,000
3.1C1 Native American Advancement & Tribal Engagement N. Levi Esquerra Karen Francis-Begay Jessica Thornburg
The University of Arizona will establish a university level Senior Executive Leadership role for Native American Advancement and Tribal Engagement (Senior Executive Leader) and create the support network for a future Center for Native American Advancement and Tribal Engagement (Center). The Senior Executive Leader will elevate the voice of tribal governments and Native American students and faculty by directly reporting to the UA President on all aspects of the University of Arizona's land grant mission. The Center will promote the cultural distinctiveness, contributions, and significance of Native peoples by gathering appropriate personnel and financial resources to support the achievement, sustainability, and expansion of NA advancement at the University.
Spring 2021 Update
Launch Date: 06/11/2019
Strategic Initiatives Fund FY22 Budget: $444,200
3.1D President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Lehman Benson Alex Robie Harris Jessica Thornburg
In 2021, the University of Arizona joined a collaborative partnership with the University of California to offer postdoctoral fellowship opportunities at the University of Arizona. In this partnership, the University of Arizona offers postdoctoral research fellowships in all fields, coupled with faculty mentoring, professional development, and academic networking opportunities. The University of Arizona views these presidential postdoctoral fellowships as an exceptional opportunity to recruit potential new faculty to the University whose research, teaching, and service will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity at UArizona. Visit to learn more about this initiative.
3.2A Making the Arts Central to the UA Experience Colin Blakely   Brian Cunningham
Arizona will integrate the arts throughout the university experience and beyond. In doing so, we will ensure that all students, regardless of major, have opportunity for meaningful experiences in the arts and that the arts play an essential role in realizing the University of Arizona’s land-grant mission. These land-grant values will be carried beyond the campus as part of our identity in the work that alumni, faculty, staff, and the broader community do to realize transformative impact in the world. Visit to learn more about the impacts of this initiative.
Spring 2021 Update
Strategic Initiatives Fund FY22 Budget: $628,320
3.2B Signature Annual Event Brian Ellerman   OSI Team
This initiative will scale the university partnership with the TENWEST Festival to curate a series of events that focus on grand challenge themes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The model includes an interdisciplinary breadth of tech, arts, education, and experiential learning that will attract significant audiences to Southern Arizona. TENWEST will be leveraged to increase the global reach and reputation of the University of Arizona while generating economic, social, and cultural value.
Launch Date: 09/05/2019
3.3B1 The Phoenix Center for Outreach and Collaboration Steve Voeller Julie Trujillo Brian Cunningham 
The Phoenix Center will facilitate partnerships throughout the state and the greater Phoenix area, furthering UA’s recognition as a leading higher education institution generating solutions for Arizona’s most pressing problems. The UA Phoenix Center will provide the physical space needed to bring UA's network of expertise to Maricopa County, enabling public and private partnerships in one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation. The increased engagement will strengthen UA’s reputation and allow for more competitive student recruitment efforts and increased donor and alumni engagement.
3.3B2 The DC Center for Outreach and Collaboration Brew McKenna   Brian Cunningham
The University of Arizona will establish the D.C. Center for Outreach and Collaboration to serve as a catalyst for partnerships, recruitment, programmatic opportunities for UA students (e.g. internships, study abroad), federal relations, and research. The Washington, D.C. Center for Outreach and Collaboration will be the University of Arizona's first of its' kind space in Washington, D.C. and will support full-time UA staff, house traveling UA faculty and visitors, and offer an event space for speakers and meetings. In addition, this location may host academic programs (e.g. National Institute for Civil Discourse). Visit to learn more about this initiative.
Spring 2021 Update
Launch Date: 11/22/2019
Strategic Initiatives Fund FY22 Budget: $2,448,000
3.3B3 The Bay Area Center for Outreach and Collaboration Ricardo Valerdi   OSI Team
The UA Presidio Center for Collaboration is an opportunity for UA to leverage the brainpower and wealth of Silicon Valley to increase the UA's role in the 4th Industrial Revolution. By having a physical presence in the Bay Area, the UA can become an influential player in a variety of industries including artificial intelligence, data science, social media, autonomous vehicles, and computer networking. To this end, stakeholders throughout UA’s units will converge at the Center for Collaboration to advance our goals in: Student recruitment (in particular Hispanic students), alumni outreach, fundraising, technology commercialization, student internships, and executive education.
3.3C1 Cross-Border Collaboration and Partnerships Justin Dutram   OSI Team
Through the implementation of this strategic initiative, the University of Arizona will be recognized as the leading institution for developing partnerships with Mexico across academic, experiential and private spheres in support of the development strategies of Mexico and the State of Arizona. Strengthening our partnerships with Mexico through innovative approaches will enable the University to collaboratively develop solutions to the grand challenges that impact our shared region and to elevate the importance of Mexico’s impact on the creation of new knowledge at the University and on the region’s social, cultural and economic well-being.
Launch Date: 08/30/2019
3.3C2 Border Lab Javier Duran   Brian Cunningham
The main goal of this initiative is make the UA the leader in the field of border studies by creating new knowledge and transnational collaborations. This will position the university as a top destination for students and faculty pursuing border related scholarship in global, binational and regional contexts. To this end, the Border Lab will consolidate and expand existing UA research, provide experiential and service learning opportunities for UA and non-UA students and articulate an interdisciplinary curriculum at the graduate and undergraduate level.
Spring 2021 Update
Launch Date: 01/23/2020
3.3C3 Castro House Maribel Alvarez Arlette Cordery Brian Cunningham
This initiative encompasses the renovation of ABOR‐owned property in Nogales, AZ, gifted to the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS) by the family of the late Governor of Arizona, Raul Castro. Known as the Castro House, located at 429 W. Crawford Street in Nogales, Arizona, the house is envisioned as a hub for strategic activities beneficial to the University of Arizona in student recruitment and training, faculty research, and community partnerships with government, industry, and nonprofit organizations. SBS has raised private funds, led the architectural design and engineering for the property renovation, and will staff and coordinate use of the House. This initiative engages services and operations to complete the renovation of the exterior, entrance, and full first floor of the property.
Strategic Initiatives Fund FY22 Budget: $1,000,000
3.3E Community Engagement through Experiential Learning Abra McAndrew   Brian Cunningham
Community engaged experiential learning that provides mutual benefit to organizations within the region and state will become a signature experience of undergraduate education at the University of Arizona. The initiative enhances capacity of faculty, community organizations and students to engage authentically in effective practices for pedagogy and learning. When incentives to participate align for all stakeholders, meaningful partnership and learning outcomes will result. The initiative enhances our capacity as an institution to sustain this transformation through improved practice, processes and better positioning toward wide recognition of the University’s public service. Results can enhance proposals for extramural investment in integrated learning strategies. Visit to learn more about this initiative.
Strategic Initiatives Fund FY22 Budget: $250,000
3.4A Innovation Ecosystem Doug Hockstad   OSI Team
UA has been successful over the last five years in growing its commercialization activities. To build on that success, and to create a nationally-recognized innovation ecosystem, UA will enhance and lead the innovation ecosystem in southern Arizona by fueling innovation, commercialization of IP, entrepreneurship, and corporate partnerships. Through a strategically connected portfolio including technology commercialization through TLA, student entrepreneurship and education, physical assets at UA Tech Parks, including an “innovation hub” at The Bridges, and AZ Forge incubator concept at Roy Place, UA will attract students, faculty, staff, community, and industry to this ecosystem.
UAHS 3.3 Innovations in Healthy Aging Kathleen C Insel   Brian Cunningham
Our initiative is to explore, discover and evaluate new models for healthy aging including: creating an Age-Friendly University, partnering with developers of senior living communities, expanding our capacity in research and discovery focused on aging (including identifying and testing interventions for Smart and Adaptive living environments that consider both environmental factors and health management), and increasing the workforce to meet both the opportunities and challenges of our aging population. With these contracts, licenses, invention disclosures, grants, faculty experts and partnerships, the University of Arizona will establish itself as the leading university nationally and internationally in this domain and the go-to organization for healthy aging. This will lead to more contracts, licenses, invention disclosures, grants, partnerships, students and faculty focused on healthy aging and will position Arizona as the premier destination for healthy aging. The efforts of this initiative will result in state-of-the-art, inclusive, safe and supportive senior living oases that engage seniors, researchers, students, health professionals and community members in co-development of solutions for families, communities and society’s changing needs.
Spring 2021 Update
Strategic Initiatives Fund FY22 Budget: $1,500,000

Arizona Advantage