David K. Scott was Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1993-2001.
This is an archive of the Chancellor's Web site during his tenure.

UMass Office of the Chancellor

Strategic Action FY'97 - FY'01

III. A Vision of the Future: Reinventing the Dream

A vision of the University must be vivid, yet general enough to encompass the hopes and aspirations of all the areas of the Campus. The current vision statement reads as follows:

As the systems flagship campus, Amherst draws from throughout the Commonwealth, the nation and the world, providing a broad undergraduate curriculum with over 100 majors, and more than 50 doctoral programs. It will continue as a Carnegie Research I University, and will continue efforts to obtain a median ranking among the American Association of Research Libraries; to obtain membership in the Association of American Universities; and to maintain a leading presence in a variety of Division I intercollegiate sports.

While this vision statement contains many of our aspirations, it also omits key components that have emerged in the planning process. For example, it does not explicitly cover the Land Grant dimension of our mission or our continuing evolution as a multicultural community. A vision statement which comes closer to capturing the spirit of the emerging strategic planning, thinking and commentaries might read as follows:

As the flagship, public Land Grant-Research University of the Commonwealth, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is dedicated to creating a Commonwealth of Learning. It will strive to achieve the greatest human potential among its students, faculty, staff and alumni, and through them and its integrative programs in teaching and learning, in research, discovery and creative endeavors, and in outreach and public service, to create a better and a wiser world. It will continuously strive to attain preeminence and serve as a model of excellence for others to emulate. The University will continue its historic commitment to removing barriers: barriers to access; barriers between liberal and professional education and between different areas of knowledge; between the University and society; between different cultures; between different groups--faculty, students, staff, administrators; between administrative structures, the organization of the University and the physical structures. The University will be integrative in all that it strives to do.

The original idea of a Commonwealth denotes shared wealth, a public good accessible to all. By applying the idea of a commonwealth to learning, we are reinventing for the Information Age the dream of the Land Grant University. To do so will call for a commonality of purpose, conviction and direction in the complex, expanding and dynamic universe of learning. This Commonwealth of Learning will be our vision.

Through the history of the Land Grant Universities, we think of the great Land Grant Acts of 1862 and 1890, which created a new system of higher education. And we think of the Hatch Act of 1887, or the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which created the Agricultural Experiment Stations and the Cooperative Extension System. From the founding of the Land Grant universities, it took 50 years to put in place the delivery systems to make them work. We should not be surprised at the pace of change now. What is needed is the equivalent of a third Morrill Act for a Commonwealth of Learning and the equivalent of the Hatch and Smith-Lever Acts to put in place the information technology infrastructure of a new system of access, learning, outreach and research. In looking to a new century and a new millennium, we should set such a goal--to create a Commonwealth of Learning and a Republic of the Intellect, and to reinvent the dream. We shall do what is necessary, but an additional investment by the State to support the directions of this Strategic Action plan through a new Compact with the Commonwealth would net great dividends.

The strategic principles outlined in Strategic Thinking remain operative:

  • Recognize the ongoing imperative for change.
  • Work toward blurring boundaries and rendering barriers permeable to make the University more integrative.
  • Attend to the ecology of the learning, living and working environment.
  • Foster the continuing evolution from a monocultural to a multicultural and eventually to a transcultural community, valuing the richness and differences of individuals and cultures, yet affirming our common humanity.
  • Provide access to opportunity.
  • Focus on human empowerment and enablement to become a more caring institution.
  • Become more externally and internally connected to avoid a zero-sum philosophy, to develop a constituency, and to become more effective and efficient.
  • Commit to a new environment for learning, discovery and outreach through infrastructural, administrative and organizational renewal, and through creative use of technology.
  • Strive for multidimensional excellence in a realistic array of activities to enhance the influence and viability of the University in the State, the Nation and the World.
  • Adopt a set of catalysts for constructive change.
The last principle, on adopting catalysts for change, is now replaced by Strategic Action, which will be shaped, refined and extended as the years pass. But our discussions over the last three years have led to one overarching challenge. The design of the multidimensionally excellent, integrative, global, Land Grant-Research University of the future derives from the twin poles of our mission as a Research University dedicated to the discovery of new knowledge and as a Land Grant University extending that knowledge in the service of society. Sometimes these missions are perceived as conflicting, but actually they are mutually reinforcing, and our future distinction will rely on their greater integration.

As we define the character of the global, Land Grant-Research University of the future, it is useful to keep in mind the set of Universities that are already Land Grant and AAU, members of the 60 most prestigious research universities in the United States and Canada. The universities in each category are shown in Figures 3(a), (b), (c). The Land Grant-AAU Universities constitute a very elite set of 20 Institutions, (17 if the Universities in the California System are counted as one) of which the only member in New England is MIT. These Universities are the powerhouses of American Higher Education with large numbers of graduates, an array of research programs and global outreach programs. They will define the major arena in which the drama of higher education will be played into the next century. I list here the United States institutions. (Those designated with an asterisk are part of a system; only the campuses in parentheses are AAU members).

University of Arizona, University of California* (Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara), University of Florida, University of Illinois, Purdue University, Iowa State University, University of Maryland* (College Park), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri* (Columbia), University of Nebraska* (Lincoln), Rutgers University, Cornell University Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Wisconsin* (Madison)

The remainder of this paper sets out the steps to be implemented over the next five years which will serve to make us a distinctive Land Grant-Research University. Some are ready to move forward immediately; others will require additional discussion in governance and elsewhere. Yet others will require specific study groups to develop the best approach for implementation. Over time the work of the thirteen Planning Task Forces and Working Groups will be implemented. Indeed many of the recommendations have already been implemented.

We proceed in Section IV with an overview of the major components of the revenues and expenditures for the five year period FY97 - FY01. A breakout on the flow of revenues and expenditures for each fiscal year of the plan is also provided, recognizing that changes will occur from year to year depending on opportunities and constraints. In Section V each component of the plan, both revenues and expenditures, is described in greater detail. We must stress that these descriptions do not replace the detailed ideas in earlier planning documents. Rather they represent the major steps to ensure that we move along the broad path that has been charted by these plans. The Strategic Action plan is concluded in Section VI with a perspective on the planning of the future of the University.

Table of Contents
Next | Overview of the Multi-Year Plan

Campus Updates
About the Chancellor

PowerPoint Presentations

Chancellor's Report

Strategic Action
Campaign UMass
excellence within your reach