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Release: Nov. 17, 2000

University of Iowa shares news of progress in implementing strategic plan

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman had some good news this week for the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. The university’s four-year graduation rate increased from 35 percent in 1998-99 to 37.1 percent in 1999-00; the number of faculty elected to national scholarly academies climbed from 24 to 28; and minority representation among merit staff rose from 5.3 percent to 5.8 percent.

These statistics were published this month in Implementing the Strategic Plan 1999-2000 and outlined by Coleman Nov. 15 in a multimedia presentation at the Regents’ meeting in Iowa City. This is the final annual report on targeted indicators from Achieving Distinction 2000, the university’s second five-year strategic plan and the first that tracked annual progress. Targeted indicators are quality-related measures that can be associated with time-specific numerical objectives such as the number of staff participating in professional development programs. The report also tracks progress indicators, which are points of reference that cannot be set at predetermined levels.

The indicators were developed in 1995 to measure progress in seven areas: comprehensive strength in undergraduate programs, premier graduate and professional programs in a significant number of areas, a faculty of national and international distinction, distinguished research and scholarship, a culturally diverse and inclusive university community, strong ties between the university and external constituencies, and a high-quality academic and working environment.

For each indicator, administrators set a target for the year 2000. Many of these targets were surpassed within a few years. Some of the 1999-00 report’s highlights include:

-- The number of technologically equipped classrooms rose to 81, up from 22 in 1995-96.
A total of 121 classrooms now have ready access to fixed or portable technology; the original target was 100.

-- Non-degree-seeking enrollment jumped from 2,448 in 1995-96 to 3,338. The target was 2,800.

-- The percentage of faculty receiving external support soared from 33 percent in 1995-96 to 50 percent. The target was 40 percent.

-- The percentage of minority representation among professional and scientific staff inched from 5.3 percent in 1995-96 to 5.6 percent. The target was 5.5 percent.

-- Staff participating in professional development programs increased from 2,907 in 1995-96 to 6,672. The target was 3,900.

-- 105 faculty members participated in the Technology-Based Teaching Initiative, making the cumulative total 438. The target was to train 300.

-- Undergraduate participation in study abroad surpassed the target of 500 with 556 students participating, up from 323 in 1995-96.

The report also keeps track of rankings and surveys. Some examples include:

-- The university tied for 20th place among public universities in U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges, 2001."

-- A 1999 survey by the Iowa Social Science Institute of 800 staff, 800 faculty, and 1,000 students found that Recreational Services has an 84 percent mean approval rating from staff, 81 percent from faculty, and 79 percent from students. Cambus received a mean satisfaction rating of 84 percent from staff, 86 percent from faculty, and 78 percent from students.

-- In the Top American Research Universities, a recent resource-based study conducted by The Center at the University of Florida, the university tied for 11th place in the category of best public university overall.

-- The Colleges of Engineering and Pharmacy reported placement rates of its 1998-99 graduates at 100 percent.

-- A 1999 survey of patient satisfaction at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics found that 90 percent of patients were very satisfied with care and nearly 96 percent would recommend the hospitals and clinics to family and friends.

Although the university made strides in most areas, it fell behind in others. For example, minority representation among students decreased from 9.5 percent to 9.2 percent, and female representation in executive, administrative, and managerial positions fell from 31 percent to 29.7 percent.

Some of the indicators, Coleman says, did not turn out to be the best tracking measures, and several of the targets have been modified for the current strategic plan, New Century Iowa: Bridges to the Next Horizon. Campus safety, for example, used to be measured by the university's rank among 17 peer institutions in six of the 12 crime categories included in the federally mandated annual safety report. An increase or decrease of even one reported crime, however, could cause the rankings to fluctuate dramatically. Although this indicator has been dropped, the university will continue to monitor crime statistics.

Under the new strategic plan, the number of targets has been streamlined and some of the indicators have been modified. Undergraduate education will continue to play a significant role. For example, the university will now track undergraduate participation in career programs.

Coleman presented baselines for these new indicators at the Regents' meeting.

"I am committed to the process of strategic planning. It not only gives us information that we need to provide the best teaching, research, and service we possibly can, but such planning also gives us credibility in the eyes of our supporters and benefactors, as well as hard information to back up our claims of success," Coleman writes in her introduction to the report.

"(Strategic plans) are necessary to track change over time, and they are crucial to keeping our aims on a straight course."

The report "Implementing the Strategic Plan 1999-2000" is available on the web at