Since its founding in 1850, the University of Utah has diligently pursued a three-part, time-honored mission: educating our state’s residents; creating and disseminating new knowledge and creative works; and collaborating with public and private partners to address societal needs and opportunities. Over the past decade alone, more than 76,000 graduates have passed through the U’s campus, and discoveries made here have advanced disciplines ranging from genetics to metallurgy.
Today’s world differs markedly from the one of 1850—technologically, economically, socially and culturally—with differing educational needs and new societal challenges. As the U approaches its 170th year, it is entirely appropriate and necessary to step back and ask how we can best ensure the benefits of higher education are available and accessible in the broadest and most inclusive way to Utah’s aspiring students, allowing them to prosper and thrive in a global, knowledge-driven economy.
To explore these questions, I have chartered a campus taskforce, with faculty, staff and student representation, to explore the accessibility and potential growth of the university.
This Educational Futures and Student Success Taskforce builds on President Watkins’ vision for the future of the University of Utah, one that includes potential student growth, higher six-year graduation rates and increased faculty and student diversity. The vision also includes increasing the number of graduates with skills in high-demand jobs and offering affordable, high-value online programs that extend access to an ever-larger fraction of Utahns.
The taskforce consists of six subcommittees: financial analysis; enrollment management and marketing; student success and services; facilities and infrastructure; educational delivery and partnerships; and graduate student success. Professors Diane Pataki and Robert Fujinami have graciously agreed to serve as taskforce co-chairs.
Translating this ambitious vision into an action plan will require broad discussion and consultation, thoughtful planning and determined action. Make no mistake: growth for the sake of growth is not the objective; rather, it is to uphold our responsibility to educate Utahns, ensure the success of an ever more diverse set of students, respond to economic and social needs, and continue to raise the national and international profile of the University of Utah.
In short, the taskforce is about the educational, academic and intellectual future of the U and its social compact with the state of Utah. We are now, as we always have been, the University OF Utah and the University FOR Utah.
Utah. We imagine. Then do. For all of us.