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Release: Immediate

Regents approve UI strategic plan, "Achieving Distinction 2000"

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman today (Tuesday, Dec. 17) presented the State Board of Regents with the university's first statement of core values, designed to give direction to the university's ongoing strategic planning process. The new statement of core values is included in the university's strategic plan, "Achieving Distinction 2000," to which the Regents gave final approval today.

The core values emphasize learning, community, responsibility, integrity and quality. They affirm that the university "vigilantly protects free expression of thought, respects differences, and fosters opportunities for all members of the community to generate and discuss ideas." They require that the university "measures itself by exacting standards, honors high aspiration and achievement, and expects all persons associated with the university to strive for excellence." The statement of core values also recognizes the university's responsibility to provide a "supportive, and humane environment" in which people encounter each other "in a spirit of cooperation, openness and mutual respect."

A values statement was one of three essential elements missing from the university's strategic plan when she came to Iowa a year ago, Coleman says. The others were a set of quantitative indicators by which to measure progress toward goals and a short list of strategic focus areas, projects with broad positive effects that would accelerate progress toward most of the UI's institutional goals. The Regents had deferred approval of the university's strategic plan to give Coleman an opportunity to make her own assessment.

"When I came to this office in December (1995)," Coleman says, "I started right away to examine our goals and aspirations, to help me get a better picture of the university. The strategic plan was developed through grass-roots faculty and staff involvement and is quite sound. But we did not have any central statement of values nor any of the indicators we would need to measure our progress."

It took several tries and input from a wide spectrum of the university community to put common values into words, Coleman says, and she and her colleagues at Iowa had to struggle with what the values would mean in actual practice. "How would we use them in everyday decision-making? What would we do where ideals conflict, when one person's principled exercise of free speech, for example, collides with another person's principled resistance to hate speech?"

"Using sessions with focus groups, electronic mail correspondence, and one-on-one conversations across campus, important common principles came to light. It's important to have such a statement in print, but the words themselves are secondary to the process of arriving at the values," she continued.

"The very process of agreeing upon first principles can be an important exercise in building community," Coleman says. "In wrestling honestly and openly with this issue, on the basis of our fundamental -though imperfectly articulated values- I believe we can develop an even stronger university community. I hope that we will have many more of these community-building discussions in the future."

"These are elements in a declaration of principle that I believe all of us can support," Coleman says. Coleman also presented the Regents with progress indicators for seven university goals and with four strategic focus areas that will help direct university efforts in coming years.

The University of Iowa

Founded by Iowa's first legislature in 1847, and entrusted with a
threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service, The
University of Iowa is rooted in a culture that values education. In
planning, setting priorities, and making decisions the university is
guided by five interdependent commitments.

The University of Iowa is dedicated to discovering, disseminating, and
preserving knowledge and to the development of an educated citizenry.
Through teaching, research, scholarship, creative endeavor, clinical
practice, and public outreach, the university develops ideas, enlarges
understanding, and extends its resources to society. Recognizing the
need for constant inquiry and continuous reinterpretation of
knowledge, the university vigilantly protects free expression of
thought, respects difference and diversity, and fosters opportunities
for all members of the community to generate and discuss ideas and
contribute to the vitality of the educational environment.

The University of Iowa recognizes that its students, faculty, staff,
and alumni are the source of its strength: collectively, they
determine the institution's character, quality, and effectiveness. On
a safe and well-maintained campus, the university offers a supportive
and humane environment in which people from a wide variety of
backgrounds and traditions may encounter each other in a spirit of
cooperation, openness, and mutual respect, to form a richly diverse
and intellectually stimulating community.

The University of Iowa is obligated to exercise responsible
stewardship over the intellectual and material resources entrusted to
it. As a public institution, the university aims for accessibility,
affordability, and quality, so that a broad array of qualified
students from Iowa and elsewhere may obtain an excellent education at
reasonable cost. The university recognizes the responsibility of its
faculty to determine what students should learn and to shape the body
of knowledge that will be passed on to future generations. It is also
the university's obligation to engage all members of its community in
collective reflection on their responsibilities not only to their
disciplines and professions but also to the institution and to

In fulfilling all areas of the university's mission, members of the
University of Iowa community hold themselves to the highest criteria
of honesty, fairness, and professional and scholarly ethics.

As a center of learning, the University of Iowa measures itself by
exacting standards, honors high aspiration and achievement, and
expects all persons associated with the university to strive for