Thanks to your collaborative dialogue, the strategic planning process has been a resounding success. See the phases below, and return here for updates on implementation.

Faculty, staff and students participating in strategic planning

Overview of the Phases of Work

Phase 1: Discovery

Developed fact base on where we are; gathered initial input on aspirations, Strategic Pillars, and initiatives

Phase 2: Ideation

Developed our Strategic Pillars and identified initiatives

Phase 3: Testing

Syndicated initiatives; conducted initiative design and planning

Phase 4: Development

Developed final strategy document and recommendations on next steps

Phase 5

Detailed planning and preparation for implementation


Deliver impact through a dedicated team

Ideas and feedback from the University community that helped shape the strategy


Thanks to the collective insight of more than 10,000 University of Arizona stakeholders, we now have a bold, distinctive vision for the UA that builds on our strengths and unleashes our potential to lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

See the presentation of the final Strategic Plan to the Arizona Board of Regents on November 16, 2018. This presentation marks the near end of Phase 5, and the shift to Implementation.

Phase 5

After almost eight months of collecting information and feedback, we entered into Phase 5 of the strategic planning process. While we were crafting and reviewing initiatives, we asked for comments from the community on the strategic, institutional pillars in development.

The five pillars and underlying initiatives were co-created throughout the process of meeting and speaking with every college and thousands of UA faculty, staff, students, alumni and stakeholders.

The pillars represent broad focus areas that work in concert and collectively act as a robust roadmap for the UA’s future. Each pillar has been developed into initiatives to be implemented with clear goals and performance indicators.

This has formed the basis of the strategic plan by supporting our vision and inspiring our work.

Phase 3 and 4: Testing and Development

We continued to refine the pillars and initiatives that had been co-created through the first two phases of meeting and speaking with every college and receiving the collective input of nearly 10,000 UA stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters.

We engaged deans and other campus leaders regularly in this process to encourage dialogue about how each college uniquely sees itself in developing students and leading research in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Over the summer, we worked toward finalizing the strategy draft and began preparing for plan implementation

Watch the video below to learn more about the planning process that took place in Phases 3 and 4.

Phase 2: Ideation

Website Questions

Question 3: Name three ways the UA can ensure our students are prepared for life after graduation.

  • 25% of respondents: Offer real-world experience in the form of experiential learning opportunities, real-life projects, and internships and externships.
  • 24% of respondents: Career placement assistance in the form of job fairs, guidance and mentoring, and opportunities for networking. Perhaps offer a capstone-type course that addresses skills needed in the workplace, gets their resume together, etc.        
  • 12% of respondents: Teach a Life Skills course that covers effective communication, basic health and self-care, sexual health and responsibility, and relationships beyond social media (personal/sexual, family, friends, supervisors).
  • 11% of respondents: Develop critical thinking skills. 
  • 7% of respondents: Provide financial information, addressing student loans/debt, future salaries, and budgeting to encourage financial stability post-graduation.

Question 4: How do we prepare students to live a meaningful life in an increasingly digital world?

Common themes emerged from this question, including:

  • Encourage students to unplug and experience reality above and beyond the digital world.
  • Provide a well-rounded education—including digital advancements, the social sciences and liberal arts—to produce critical, independent thinkers. 
  • Impart the importance of community, networking and personal development. Engage students in community events for the benefit of others. Create a culture of philanthropy.
  • Teach the importance of digital responsibility.
  • Find an efficient balance between digital platforms and in-person, hands-on experience.

We engaged the Arizona community by way of topical meetups. The basic formula for each meetup was:

The following summaries were posted as they occurred and reflect one or two sample insights gained around each topic. To note, in some cases we heard completely opposing ideas. All feedback was shared with the Strategic Planning Committee for further discussion..

March 28, 2018 Meetup 10: Wildcats for Life

How might we build a future where alumni engage in lifelong learning and relationships?

Live poll

What programming should the UA offer alumni?

In one word, what makes you most proud to be a Wildcat?

What three words should define the Wildcat alumni experience?


In small groups, we talked through questions like What do alumni want/need from the UA (e.g., tools, skills, networking) and what programs would you be proud to support as an alumna?

Here are a couple of outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

Continued career development and networking
assure relevancy of education throughout alumni careers and provide connections to alumni networks and current students

create opportunities for alumni to serve and support students, peers, factulty and staff

March 28, 2018 Meetup 9: Make Science Fiction Scientific Fact

How will we lead the integration of our physical, digital and biological worlds on Earth and beyond?


In small groups we talked through questions like What do alumni want/need from the UA (e.g., tools, skills, networking) and what programs would you be proud to support as an alumna?

Here are a couple of outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

Define technological goals
integrate the human-computer interaction, data science, machine learning and AI into technological goals, including development

Preserve the Earth
use the same energies and technologies we use to explore space to help sustain Earth

March 27, 2018 Meetup 8: Arts Oasis in the Desert

How might we make Arizona a destination for the arts?


The arts are a significant contributor to creative problem-solving and a happy, healthy life. In Phase I, it was made clear that many of us believe we are a gem in the desert. We asked groups to describe Tucson. Then think about our bigger place in Tucson, in society and the world. What would it look like for every student, staff and faculty member to experience arts and culture at Arizona?

We also asked attendees to show how the arts at Arizona and in the Tucson and AZ community be known to the world five years from now? What events, programs, installations, performances and exhibits would be distinctive?

Here are a few outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

Night lights
build our version of South by Southwest to promote the importance of the arts and community

New thinking in old west
be a destination for murals and indigenous art, collaborations of the arts and sciences to bolster outcomes in K-8 schools, prisons and intercultural relations

Artside out
make walking through campus and learning at Arizona an artistic experience


March 22, 2018 Meetup 7: Age Without Limits

How might we create the solutions that help people age with health and dignity?


In Phase 1, “Age without limits” rose to the top as a grand challenge for health in Arizona and beyond. We asked small groups to share big ideas around how we will lead in this area in a way that is big and distinctively UA?

Here is the outcome that resulted from this discussion:

Age without limits
integrate Arizona expertise across holistic approaches to aging, cybersecurity and neuroscience to strengthen collaborations and show the world we age better 

March 22, 2018 Meetup 6: The World is Wildcat Country

How will we establish our place on the world stage and prepare students for a connected and global world?


Several big ideas emerged during Phase 1 with regard to preparing students for an interconnected world, including:

  1. Enabling every student to have a multi-cultural experience through study abroad, and
  2. connecting research across campus, micro-campuses and other research hubs.

For each big idea, we asked the small groups to think about: How might we might make this bigger? Make a real difference? What would you add?

Here are a few outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

increase international language and learning opportunities, physically and virtually, to create more of a global experience

Global perspective
foster global collaborations with experts and entities tackling similar problems to deepen multicultural learning and impact

Then we asked attendees to show how the UA should develop global impact:


March 21, 2018 Meetup 5: H2Onward

How might we ensure a sustainable future given our strengths?


Sustainability is a consistent theme across our Strategic Plan discussions. We asked groups to consider: How we might observe and predict a future Earth and lead practices around food, energy and water? How might we make our contributions bigger, bolder and distinctively UA?

Here are a few outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

Connect, understand, inspire
Be an integrated institute of sustainability across disciplines, curriculum, community and partnerships to inspire everyday action 

Engineered desert
Embrace our status as a living laboratory to solve problems for the third of the world’s population living in arid lands 

March 20, 2018 Meetup 4: Healing the Health Gap

How might we discover solutions to health disparities among diverse populations?


During Phase I, multiple ideas came to the surface around our existing health gap. We asked groups to consider two grand challenges around health: “Age without limits” and “Precision Medicine for the underserved.” Then we asked:What are unifying themes that tie these challenges together and how might we make our initiatives bigger, more distinctive? Does this change in the context of the 4th Industrial Revolution? What is the role of humanities, the arts, social and behavioral sciences?

Here are a few outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

Value of research and collaboration
connect education with breakthroughs and health with quality of life, to engage communities in preventative practices 

Power of diversity
understand our unique populations, across physical and social determinants of health, to better serve all Arizona communities

March 14, 2018 Meetup 3: Finding Meaning in a Digital World

How will arts and humanities help us define and live a meaningful life?


Many ideas emerged during Phase I with regard to creating Finding Meaning in a Digital World. We asked the small groups to think about:How will the UA become the “University of the Future?” How might a 4th Industrial Revolution Impact Center help us determine how government, business and society will work together to increase innovation and design meaningful lives?

Then we asked them to show: What does a meaningful life look like?

Here are a few outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

Meaning through more human connection
increase outreach and interaction that builds a more multicultural and global community 

Prepare for digital reality
develop critical life, social and intercultural competencies within a digital context

March 13, 2018 Meetup 2: One Arizona

How should we create a diverse and inclusive campus?


Diversity and inclusion is a significant theme that emerged during Phase I. First, we asked the small groups to think about: What does diversity and inclusion look like at the UA? How will we know we are successful?

Then we asked them to show: What does an inclusive campus look like?

Here are a few outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

Diversified populations and curriculum
higher enrollment and employment across marginalized identities to reflect the diversity seen in students

Pride in diversity
success is an improved campus climate, increased retention, common student experience and feeling of community

March 12, 2018 Meetup 1: Agile Wildcats

How might we develop disruptive problem solvers for a rapidly changing world?

Live Poll

What three words should describe the University of Arizona student experience?

What are the top three skills Wildcats need to be successful in the world?

What words should describe the University of Arizona curriculum?


We pulled three big ideas that emerged during Phase I with regard to creating Agile Wildcats. Idea 1: The UA will unveil a forward-looking Gen Ed curriculum to create disruptive problem-solvers. Idea 2: The UA will be the university of active teaching and learning. Idea 3: The UA will build pathways and experiences to make Wildcats global changemakers.

For each big idea, we asked the small groups to think about: How might we might make this bigger? Make a real difference? What would you add?

Here are a few outcomes that resulted from the discussion:

Interdisciplinary and diversified approach
build a cohort model that integrates the arts, design- and systemic-thinking into students’ course of study to promote active learning and multicultural thinking

Applied problem-solving
connect curriculum with real-world problems through applied research and community partnerships to solve today’s grand challenges

Global focus
embrace the importance of a global experience and versatility of micro-campuses

Career track
educate students so their career track and marketable skills are a top priority

Phase 1: Discovery

Website Questions

Question 1: List up to five words or phrases that should define the University of Arizona ten years from now.

Question 2: List up to five words or phrases that describe the strengths of the University of Arizona.

March 6, 2018, Interactive Discussion in Phoenix

Nearly 200 Wildcats shared their voices in Phoenix on March 6, in an interactive discussion about a future UA. We began with introductions and a live poll with answers that populated on the big screen. Watch the recap.

Live Poll

We asked everyone to share thoughts about where we are today and where we should be tomorrow:

What word best describes the strengths of the University of Arizona?

What word should define the University of Arizona ten years from now?

Small Group Discussion

Then we asked everyone to work in groups to answer: What impact will the University of Arizona have on students, society and the community in ten years?



Each group shared their ideas on a poster and voted between all of the posters after the event on the ideas that resonated most.

Co-Chair Panel

The Strategic Plan Committee co-chairs came to the stage for a panel Q&A session moderated by Dr. Robbins. Read more about some of the great questions we received and the committee's answers in this Lo Que Pasa article.

Due to time restrictions, some of the panel questions were not answered during the event. Instead, they were answered by the co-chairs afterward. These questions and answers are:

What things in this plan would move towards less debt and cost for students and grads?
What are we doing to make education more affordable for students in need?

A core piece of this strategic plan will be student success. This will include making the Wildcat student journey more affordable, personalized and relevant to the changing world of work. Some key pieces that will help us increase the value of a UA degree and increase affordability for students are: potential increase in scholarship opportunities, focus on improving our retention and four-year (or shorter) graduation rates, increased use of evidence-based and active teaching techniques, and increased support for students (e.g., advising, opportunities to get connected or become involved, etc.). It is top of mind for us that every student who comes to the UA does not graduate with an undue financial burden.

How is this different from past strategic plans?

A key difference of this strategic plan has been the amount of input we have sought and received, and plan to continue receiving, from the UA community and beyond. We have heard from thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and other members of the UA family. With this amount of input, we are confident that this plan will be bold and transformative. We plan on committing deeply (financially and operationally) to the strategic pillars and initiatives that emerge during this process and will hold ourselves accountable to deliver on the targets and goals we set as a university.

January 29, 2018, Interactive Discussion in Tucson

On January 29, 2018, more than 500 Wildcats — students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and community members —  came together to discuss the university's future. President Robbins, the Arizona Pep Band, Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat and the cheer squad kick the event off with spirit. Watch the recap.


Dr Robbins and the Pride of Arizona
President Robbins kicks off the day after the UA Pep Band played "Bear Down, Arizona" and "All Hail, Arizona."


Strategic Plan January 29 Event Lisa and Elliott
Strategic plan co-chair Lisa Ordóñez introduces the day's activities as fellow co-chair Elliott Cheu listens.


Strategic Plan January 29 Teamwork
UA Wildcats of all stripes came together to craft ideas for our future impact.


Strategic Plan January 29 Panel Discussion
The Strategic Plan executive committee answers questions from the audience.

Discussion Outcomes

Live Poll

We asked all to share thoughts about where we are today and where we should be tomorrow. The live poll populated on the big screen as the audience submitted answers to the below questions via text message.

What word best describes the strengths of the University of Arizona?


What word should define the University of Arizona ten years from now?


Small Group Discussion

In small groups, we worked to answer the question, “What impact will the University of Arizona have on students, society and the community in ten years?” Following the event, each attendee was given six sticker dots to mark the idea(s) they felt resonated the most.

These posters highlighted below are representative of a total of 40 worked on in collaborative table discussions that resulted in great ideas for our future.

After tallying the dots, three common outcomes arose (with some overlap between statements):

Executive Committee Panel

Then we brought the Strategic Plan executive committee up for a panel Q&A session. Read more about some of the great questions we received and the committee's answers in this Lo Que Pasa article.

January 10-29, 2018, Feedback Sessions

We've held nearly 100 focus group discussions and met with groups including faculty, students, staff, alumni, supporters and community members to gather input about strengths, challenges and ideas for our collective institutional future.

January 12, 2018, Site Launch

We launched this site!

January 10, 2018, Class Visits

The first day of spring classes: President Robbins and the strategic plan team visited four classrooms with over 1,300 students to discuss the plan and gather input.