Out of a shared love for OU, students, faculty, and staff worked together as stewards of the University’s rich heritage to craft a bold, honest,
and clear-eyed Plan for OU’s future.
American higher education faces an uncertain and highly competitive future. Fundamental disruption has occurred and will certainly continue. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the pressures that higher education faces. Now is not the time to lurch from year to year without an insightful and bold plan for the University’s second century. In at least the last 25 years, the University never issued a clear strategy for its future. We simply cannot succeed in the next 10 years without one.
Therefore, the Board of Regents and President Harroz initiated a comprehensive and inclusive process to create a new Strategic Plan for the University. This task is extraordinarily complex: The Plan must unite a University of three campuses, dozens of colleges, hundreds of undergraduate and graduate degrees, and tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff. And we have undertaken this task at a time when the very foundation of higher education is being challenged on multiple fronts. The task of creating a Strategic Plan is more vital than ever, and the stakes could not be greater for the University and the entire state of Oklahoma.
Universities are a cornerstone of our economic and social prosperity and the key to realizing the American dream. A college degree is worth about $1.5 million more earned over a lifetime.
The period from 1945-1980 was a Golden Age of higher education, defined by rapidly growing enrollments and increased investment from states and the federal government (e.g., GI Bill). From 1980-2008 was a period of relentless public disinvestment and steadily increasing tuition. We are now in a new period that continues these trends and is further defined by worldwide competitive forces and consolidation due to demographic, fiscal, and technological factors.
Systemic concerns have developed over that same time period. These can be generally divided into fiscal concerns, changing demands for services, and a reliance on stopgap measures to confront a changing marketplace.
The President’s Academic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee’s 11-member group, co-chaired by Provost Harper and School of Music faculty member Dr. Sarah Ellis, was asked to begin exploring the establishment of our Plan. The Advisory Committee represents faculty of varying ranks and multiple disciplines. Between September and December 2019, The Advisory Committee collectively spent more than 900 hours working on the Plan and interacting with campus stakeholders, including the representative leadership of faculty, students, and staff.
At the heart of our Strategic Plan are five pillars that define how we will fulfill our Purpose. Together, the pillars are our fundamental objectives, and they are carried out through the implementation of thoughtful and concrete strategies and tactics.
Disciplined execution of our Strategic Plan will result in: providing affordable academic excellence for our students; promoting students’ intellectual, social, and emotional growth; and preparing students for a life of meaning and impact.
We will also: educate students committed to the pursuit of academic excellence regardless of background; serve and improve society through discovery, creativity, and innovation; and work in partnership with the public and private sectors to advance prosperity and well-being.