Assessment of the Vol Vision 2020 strategic plan metrics indicates overall progress toward our goals. I am proud of the work we have done together and look forward to the accomplishments that are yet to come.
More specifically, we’ve made good progress on the priority areas I outlined last semester. All of the efforts below contribute to the university’s goals outlined in the strategic plan.
Increasing our six-year graduation rate. This year we saw a record high six-year graduation rate (72 percent). Our goal is 80 percent by 2020. To help us hit this mark, we’ve convened a series of student success summits. Vice Provost for Academic Affairs R. J. Hinde has led these gatherings and is also heading up a task force to make our academic policies more student friendly, in line with our peers and our aspirational peers.
Growing our research profile. We are hiring an additional 25 faculty members this year and plan to continue growing our faculty numbers. We’re working on our first three cluster hires: data sciences, quantum materials for future technologies, and the Center of Food and Activity for Healthy Communities.
Ensuring student access. Our Enrollment Management team is constantly adjusting the way we award institutional scholarship dollars and looking for ways to bring a larger diverse group of accomplished students to our campus. At the same time, we have been poring over data to determine how we can lessen the stumbling blocks for at-risk students.
Enhancing diversity and inclusion. We’ve welcomed Tyvi Small as our interim vice chancellor for diversity and engagement, and I look forward to working with him to make our campus a more welcoming place for all. We’re fortunate to have four strong established groups—the Commission for Blacks, the Commission for Women, the Commission for LGBT People, and our Council for Diversity and Inclusion—to help us recognize and address issues. We have much work to do, but we have a committed team in place.
Increasing e-learning opportunities. Matthew Theriot, associate vice provost for faculty development and strategic initiatives, has led our efforts to identify an online company to help manage our e-learning program. Once a contract is in place, we’ll assemble an advisory committee of faculty and staff to recommend where we start growing our online offerings. Our hope is to have three or four new online graduate programs by fall 2020.
Examining the budget model. I’ve been working Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Chris Cimino and others to lay the groundwork for a new budget model, which will launch soon. We have been talking to consulting firms and will be involving all of our stakeholders, including faculty, staff, and students, in campus discussions.