Goals for 2025 Mark a New Phase for University
The UA, along with the two other state universities, has adopted new metrics aimed at redefining the future of higher education in Arizona.

University Relations - Communications
Nov. 23, 2015


The new 2025 metrics will enable the UA to respond to statewide needs in ways that consider its unique mission as a land-grant and AAU-member institution with strategic priories aimed at advancing STEM and medical education.
The new 2025 metrics will enable the UA to respond to statewide needs in ways that consider its unique mission as a land-grant and AAU-member institution with strategic priories aimed at advancing STEM and medical education. (Photo: FJ Gaylor)

Aligning institutional goals with the realities of a changing economic and social context in the Grand Canyon State, the University of Arizona has adopted an updated set of performance-based metrics through 2025.

The UA’s 2025 benchmarks, which aim to improve the quality of life for Arizonans, are framed for bolstering degree access and improving degree attainment — especially for transfer and online students — while expanding the research enterprise and technology transfer.

The plan is part of a statewide strategic framework presented by UA President Ann Weaver Hart and the presidents of Arizona State and Northern Arizona universities, and approved last Thursday by the Arizona Board of Regents.

"The new 2025 metrics are a continuation of our aggressive initiatives to achieve critical goals for the state and for our students and families, with accountability and transparency at the forefront," said Jay Heiler, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents. "Using these metrics as a guide, the Arizona Board of Regents can advance a strategic growth plan to serve our more than 160,000 individual students and to meet the economic and workforce needs of the state."

In developing the targets, the three universities considered several factors: Arizona has a constitutional mandate to ensure access to higher education; each of the institutions has a different mission; the existing and future higher education marketplace is sharply competitive; and Arizona's economy is not merely growing but changing.

The framework revises earlier 2020 goals originally set by ABOR. The framework is meant to improve flexibilities and efficiencies to ensure that each institution can address complex statewide workforce and economic development demands.

"I see this as governance at its highest form, because it gives us a fundamental way to see where we are going to be in 2025, which is hard to do with any sense of clarity," said Chad Sampson, ABOR’s vice president for strategic planning and initiatives. "The plan provides accountability, and allows us to speak to who we want to be as institutions."

Comparing the 2014-2015 academic year with that of 2024-2025, the UA's plans calls for:

  • A freshman retention rate of 91 percent, up from 81.9 percent.
  • Undergraduate enrollment at 50,466, up from 32,987.
  • Total student enrollment at more than 64,200, with about 20 percent of those students being enrolled via UA Online.
  • Graduate student enrollment of 13,784, up from 9,249.
  • Degrees awarded in high-demand fields (including those in STEM and health care) to reach 5,131, up from 4,347.
  • A six-year graduation rate of 75 percent, compared with 60.3 percent.
  • 11,665 bachelor's degrees awarded, up from 6,745 undergraduate degrees.
  • Research and development spending at $756.6 million, up from about $592.8 million, which will aid in the UA's goal to remain a top 20 research institution in the U.S.

"The board is well ahead of many of its peers in thinking about indicators of success and what they mean," Hart said. "These are stretch goals. We want to set these goals as a group and institute programs that will help us to reach them."

Regarding research and development goals, Hart said it will be important not merely to consider benchmark totals, but also to evaluate faculty productivity and research intensity — areas where the institution consistently outperforms its peers.

Also, speaking to degree attainment, Hart noted that while community college enrollments are on the decline in Arizona, the UA's priority in educating greater numbers of transfer students is "critically important to the indicators of success. Clearly, community colleges are important to us."

The UA's degree attainment goals are crucial, not only for the institution but for students and families across the state, Hart said. "The human costs for dropping out of college, both in terms of personal failure and financial obligations, are dramatic," she said.

Revisiting and redefining the metrics also enables the UA — much like the ASU, NAU and the board — to critically evaluate existing programs, and to design and implement strategies meant to direct positive impact.

Barbara Bryson, the UA's vice president for strategic planning and analysis, referenced the University's partnership with Civitas Learning, one example of a multipronged approach to enhance retention. The collaboration has resulted in the adoption of data and analytics-driven interventions that are helping to improve student retention and success.

"We expect that these targets will drive additional conversations to help us better understand how the University of Arizona will serve the state," Bryson said, "and how we can keep the balance of what we believe is special about the UA and our mission, and what we want to contribute to higher education in Arizona."

Larry Penley, recently appointed to the board, said the newly adopted metrics are what the statewide public higher education system needs to be responsive.

"I'm happy to become a regent on a day when this is part of the discussion," said Penley, who was appointed in October. "The metrics we set drive the conversations and operational change. This is a great way for the board to drive the kind of positive change forward."

Extra info

The Arizona Board of Regents last Thursday approved 13 outcome-based metrics, which will be used to monitor benefits for the state through 2025. The metric targets consider the current higher education environment and are designed to reflect each state institution’s unique mission and strategic priorities. The targets also were developed with awareness of peer performance and other states’ educational attainment rates.

The three state institutions adopted thematic goals to establish their performance goals: Drive student educational success and learning; advance educational attainment within Arizona; discover new knowledge; and impact Arizona.

In 2025, the Arizona Board of Regents-approved systemwide metrics are expected to result in:

  • A freshman retention rate of 88.3 percent.
  • More than 224,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at the three state institutions.
  • A six-year graduation rate of 71.5 percent.
  • More than 40,000 bachelor’s degrees awarded.
  • More than 16,200 graduate degrees awarded.
  • More than 24,700 degrees awarded in high-demand fields.
  • More than $1.6 billion generated in research and development activities.
  • More than $191 million spent on public service-related activities.
  • 291 licenses and options executed between the UA and Arizona State University, and 50 invention disclosure transactions at Northern Arizona University.


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