Retrospective On Six-Year Strategic Action Plan Released by Chancellor David Scott

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts Chancellor David K. Scott has released a report on accomplishments of the past six years called "Strategic Action: Towards a Commonwealth of Learning, A Six-Year Retrospective - FY 1996-2001." He unveiled the report at a meeting of the Faculty Senate Nov. 2.

Scott said: "Strategic planning is not new at UMass. Over the last 30 years there have been more than several plans. But this plan is unique in having been implemented in a significant way." He said: "I believe that the University is stronger and better, and better positioned for whatever lies ahead, than it would have been without the guidance of the plan. I regret that many difficult choices and sacrifices had to be made, and I am deeply grateful to all who have borne these difficulties and hardships to position the University for the future."

Scott said: "Our buildings are better. Our reputation is better. We have become a wired campus. We have improved access by holding down tuition and fees and increasing aid to students. We have a planning process that goes hand-in-hand with our budget process. We have created partnerships locally and internationally. Our research has increased, and it has been accomplished with fewer faculty."

Highlights of the report include:

* Nearly $120M raised in private donations in the University''s first comprehensive campaign; campaign expects to top $125M by Dec. 31, a year ahead of schedule.

* A new logo, a higher national profile, and enhanced national reputation.

* A new polymer science center; a new computer science building; a new animal care facility; a new day care building; a new lobby in the Fine Arts Center; and $4.5M in class-room renovations, including Mahar and Thompson Hall auditoriums. Total expenditures on deferred maintenance, new construction, renewal, and modernization was $78M. Scott pointed out that this investment follows a long period during which almost no construction took place on campus.

* Wired 98 percent of campus buildings, including all residence halls, which enabled the installation of 21,633 Internet network connection ports. Total capital investment in information technology was $15M. The early components of a new Student Information System are on-line and administrative software for Human Resources and Finances will follow. Scott said: "A campus of the future must have these capabilities."

* Established vice chancellery for outreach, making outreach equal to teaching and research; all three were integrated under the Office of the Provost.

* Increased student access by holding tuition and fees constant, and by increasing campus money that goes toward financial aid from 5.1 percent of the operating budget in 1996 to 7 percent in 2000.

* Became more selective, with 69 percent of applicants offered admission in 2000 compared to 86 percent in 1994. Also improved one-year retention rates from 77 percent in 1994 to 81 percent in 2000.

* Diversity of entering first-year class reflects diversity of Massachusetts college-bound high school graduates.

* In athletics, rated as one of the nation''s top 16 schools in Title IX compliance; football team won Division I-AA championship in 1998; opened new softball stadium in 2000; and renovated Garber Field in 1998. UMass led the Atlantic 10 in academic all-conference selections every year from 1996-2000.

* Commonwealth College was created to serve the entire public higher education system in the commonwealth. Today it draws 500 students a year. Also, this year 100 high school valedictorians and salutatorians entered the Class of 2004.

* Between fiscal years 1996 and 2000, created 58 new international programs, and the number of students participating in study abroad programs increased by 43 percent, from 709 to 1,017. Around 18 percent of UMass students now have an experience in another country. Some 250 scholars and researchers visit UMass annually, and about 1,800 international students study at the University each year.

Scott said while much has been achieved, "much remains to be done." He said: "We must maintain our momentum and continue to build for the future."

He singled out the library and physical plant as two areas "where we must do better." He said the library''s ranking went from 93 in the country in 1991 to 77 in 1996 to 79 in 2000. Scott said the goal had been to attain a ranking of 50.

Also, Scott said, while major improvements were made in the physical plant, "We still have severe problems in deferred maintenance that we need to address."

Sponsored research is another area where the University continues to strive, partly due to loss of key faculty and outdated facilities, "two issues that are closely intertwined," Scott said. The total of all grants and contracts was $57.2M in fiscal year 1994 and $79.3M in fiscal year 2001 (calculated on a rolling three-year average), for an average compounded growth of 5.1 percent. The goal had been a 7 percent increase.

Scott concluded: "''Towards a Commonwealth of Learning'' has tried to move the University forward on many fronts to blur the boundaries and become a more connected and less fragmented University, internally and externally. These are intangibles, but I believe the University is more settled and more resilient than it was six years ago. This is a great tribute to the faculty, staff, and students who are dedicated to building the University through good times and bad."