Universities are extremely important, enduring, elevating, and expensive institutions. Our recent planning endeavors are intended to improve our stewardship of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and to increase our success in accomplishing the university’s noble purposes.
UALR Fast Forward exhibits a keen awareness that UALR is a public university that exists to serve the people of Arkansas. That awareness is a keynote of the pages that follow.
UALR Fast Forward, a strategic planning report, is one of three major university planning documents. The issues addressed by the other two—one focusing on campus grounds and facilities, the other focusing on revitalization of the part of the city around the campus—are given only limited attention in this document.
Readers are likely to find more than they expect in UALR Fast Forward.
- The report reflects an intent to build a powerhouse university in the capital city—as fast as possible—not for the sake of those who work at the university but for the sake of the people the university exists to serve.
- The report outlines the rise of metropolitan universities since World War II and offers information and insights about the nature of UALR and what sets this university apart from others.
- The chapter on universities and economic development will be of particular interest to business leaders and government officials. Today, universities are essential and powerful economic engines that pull and push regions, states, and the nation forward.
- The analysis of institutional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is candid, as are the data presented and the inferences drawn throughout the document.
- The vision of the university given in Chapter 8 is ambitious, but the university which is envisioned in a decade is much needed, overdue, and substantially achievable within that period of time.
- Chapter 9 will show the reader an extensive set of goals, objectives, and strategies which will go far in making the vision a reality. This chapter will be a basis for internal management and accountability. It will also be used as a basis for annual progress reports to the UALR Board of Visitors, University of Arkansas System officials, and other stakeholders.
- The report concludes in Chapter 10 with seven pledges to external stakeholders.
I must acknowledge and express my appreciation for the great amount of thought, time, and energy a large number of persons on and off campus gave to the planning effort.
Foremost among them is Provost David O. Belcher, who led the planning activities with enthusiasm, determination, and good humor. He organized a process for broad participation of campus and community representatives. It included a 32-member steering committee, nine expanded subcommittees, standing campus committees, standing external advisory councils, and some 20 focus groups of faculty, staff, and students. The use of electronic discussion technology further broadened participation.
I know I speak for all of us on campus in expressing special appreciation to all of the community representatives—our essential partners—who contributed so generously of their time and wisdom in the planning process.
This report embodies thoughtful planning today and can be expected to provide helpful guidance tomorrow. Nonetheless, we will not be embarrassed to revise our plans tomorrow when circumstances change in unexpected ways.
My colleagues in the UALR faculty and staff have always shown a wonderful can-do attitude and a capacity to work hard and adapt and change with the times. Therefore, I am optimistic about major success in accomplishing the ambitious goals and objectives set out in this report. In addition, I see much evidence that external stakeholders are recognizing how critical UALR is to the future of this region and of the state. I believe they are also ready to do their part to fast-forward the university—for the sake of the people it exists to serve.
Joel E. Anderson