Charting A Path
to Excellence:

The Strategic Plan for the
University of Maryland
at College Park

March 27, 1996

(This is the final version of the university's strategic plan. It supersedes the Feb. 22, 1996, final draft version of the plan, and incorporates changes made beyond that date.)

Table of Contents





Initiative One:
Offering High-Quality Education to Outstanding Undergraduates
Specific Steps

Initiative Two:
Building Cornerstone Programs of Excellence in Graduate Education and Research
Specific Steps

Initiative Three:
Increasing the University's Contribution to Society
Specific Steps

Initiative Four:
Encouraging Entrepreneurship
Specific Steps

Initiative Five:
Rationalizing Resource Allocation and Administrative Operations
Specific Steps


Informing the Campus Community
Implementation Assignments and Timelines
Anticipated Resources
Assessing the Effectiveness of the Strategic Plan



This document is the culmination of the strategic planning exercise initiated by the Provost of the University of Maryland at College Park in the Fall semester of 1994. Almost all of the specific proposals appearing here began life as ideas in the strategic plans developed by faculty and staff in all campus units during the course of the 1994-95 year. This document has been approved by the President, after review and modification by the College Park Senate, the Council of Deans, and other campus officials, and is the primary planning document for the College Park campus for the five-year period beginning July 1996. It is, in short, the strategic plan for the University of Maryland at College Park.

But it is also significantly more and less than a "strategic plan" as that phrase is usually understood. While we identify several "strategic initiatives," we also offer a vision of academic excellence that gives meaning and importance to our discussions of strategy. And because we are a university committed to the concept of shared governance, we do not mandate how all our organizational resources should be marshaled in support of a limited number of programs. Instead, we describe the kind of distinguished academic institution we believe the University of Maryland can become, a set of strategies that will help us to make progress toward that goal, and an approach to resource allocation that will enable us to put our human and financial resources to best use. We do not attempt to predict which units will take the greatest advantage of the opportunities for growth that will still be available, but we do make it clear how successful performance will be defined and measured on the College Park campus over the next several years.


A "vision statement" speaks to the most basic question the members of any organization must ask: Where are we headed? A "strategic plan" describes how to get there. In this document we offer both a vision of the internationally renowned academic institution we believe the University of Maryland can become and a set of measures that will help us to realize that vision.

The 1988 legislation which created today's University of Maryland System designated the College Park campus as the flagship institution for the System and the comprehensive public research university for the State. The act specifically directed the University to appoint faculty and offer programs "nationally and internationally recognized for excellence in research and the advancement of knowledge" and to "admit highly qualified students with academic profiles that suggest exceptional ability." It also directed the System's Board of Regents to provide the campus with "the level of operating funding and facilities necessary to place it among the upper echelon of its peer institutions." As one of the nation's original land-grant institutions the University is also directed to serve as the State's primary center for graduate training and research and to make available the fruits of its research activities to help meet the needs of the State and its citizens. In short, we are expected to be:

One of the nation's preeminent public research universities, an institution recognized both nationally and internationally for excellence in research and instruction, which makes the results of its research available for the use and benefit of the State of Maryland and its people.
As we see it, living up to the terms of this mandate will require that we: Three broad strategies for enhancing our prospects for reaching these objectives have emerged from recent campus discussions. First, to an unprecedented degree we will have to focus our resources in units that are -- or could soon become -- nationally eminent programs. Second, through both individual and unit activities, we will have to become far more entrepreneurial in generating new sources of revenue and establishing collaborative partnerships with external groups and individuals. And third, we will have to discipline ourselves to allocate a greater portion of our organizational resources in accordance with a limited set of priorities.

The specific measures we will propose in support of these broad strategies do not represent a fresh start toward an altogether new destination. Rather, they are ways of capitalizing on the progress we have already made. It is precisely because we are already a very good university that we can realistically contemplate measures that will enable us to become one of the nation's best.


Our Strengths

Any successful planning effort must be based on an accurate assessment of our current strengths and deficiencies as a University. Among our strengths:

Our Deficiencies

In the deficiency category, however, we should acknowledge that:

Societal Changes

We must also recognize that the world in which we and other public research universities operate has seen a number of dramatic changes in recent years, changes which present us with both challenges and opportunities:

  • Funding for public higher education has decreased sharply in many states. Since 1990 State general fund appropriations for the College Park campus have dropped by 16 percent, 35 percent when adjusted for inflation;
  • The continued sluggishness of the State's economy combined with anticipated reductions in the federal workforce and large increases in public health and safety costs all point toward an extended period of stagnation in State support for higher education;
  • In FY 95 federal support for university-based research grew by only two percent, a slight reduction in real terms relative to FY 94 and an acceleration of the downward trend in support over the last decade;
  • If the action recently taken by the House of Representatives is sustained by the Senate, federal support for civilian research and development will be reduced by 30 percent by the year 2002;
  • An increasingly diverse workforce and global economy have changed the nature of the education our students need in order to succeed in the workplace of the next century. The elimination of many mid-level management positions in American businesses and industry has also created a demand for a more highly-skilled and self-reliant employee; and
  • The rapid pace of technological change and skill-obsolescence has created a large and growing demand for mid-career education.

    Responding to Challenges

    Fortunately, many of our strengths as a University can help us to respond effectively to these challenges and take advantage of emerging opportunities. Specifically:

  • The high quality of our faculty, recent innovations in undergraduate education, an increasingly well-prepared and diverse student body, attractive grounds, and proximity to the nation's capital all add up to a solid base from which to pursue excellence in undergraduate education;
  • Our current set of highly regarded graduate and professional programs represents a core of quality from which we can build outward; the task we face is not one of creating world-class research units starting from scratch, but of maintaining our present set of excellent programs while selectively upgrading a number of our existing good programs;
  • The diverse character of our student body and rich set of international resources will help us to offer a model education for the American society and workplace of the next century;
  • Our current strengths in policy analysis, business, education, and specific science and technology areas match up well with the needs of the larger society. Recent efforts to reduce the size of government at both state and federal levels are likely to create an even greater demand for the kinds of research expertise that are available on our campus;
  • The critical importance of highly-skilled "knowledge workers" for continued economic growth provides reason to think that the kind of knowledge and skills we and other universities can provide will be in increasing demand in coming years; Advances in information technology can help us to achieve higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness in all aspects of our operations -- in conducting research, providing undergraduate instruction, and in managing our administrative systems;
  • Our proven ability to set priorities and reallocate resources accordingly establishes a climate within which we can expect to continue to focus resources over the next five-year period;
  • Virtually all of the measures we might wish to pursue in order to diversify our current sources of revenue lie within the range of our existing capacities and authority -- encouraging private-sector partnerships, providing greater incentives and rewards for entrepreneurial faculty, expanding executive-education and other advanced learning programs, and obtaining higher levels of philanthropic support; and
  • There is broad support on the campus for the proposition that if we are to make further progress as a University we must focus our resources in selected areas. Our initiatives are fully consistent with the Chancellor's four-part mandate to University of Maryland System institutions -- to capitalize on their institutional strengths, strengthen collaboration (including partnerships external to the System), increase revenues from State and non-State sources, and strengthen their information-technology systems.


    In light of these developments, and based on our review of the plans put forward by individual units, we believe that the campus can make significant progress toward its goals along the lines of five "strategic initiatives:"

    The first three initiatives correspond to the University's traditional roles in teaching, research, and service, while the final two reflect our changed financial circumstances. But cutting across all five initiatives are three common objectives:

    1. We must find ways to capitalize on our academic strengths -- our most distinguished academic units, the leadership role we have played in developing new information technology and systems, the rich diversity of our campus community, and the extensive set of resources and opportunities provided by our international programs;
    2. We must ensure that our decisions and efforts, in both academic and administrative areas, meet the highest standards of quality and efficiency; and
    3. We must be prepared to change our current ways of doing business, shifting resources to units and programs where they will be put to the best use.
    Given the significant differences among campus units, we do not anticipate that every unit will seek to pursue the same initiative or set of initiatives. Undoubtedly many departments see themselves as key research and graduate programs on the campus and will undertake to consolidate that claim. But others may wish to ground their claim to excellence in the high quality and importance of their contributions to undergraduate education. Still others may respond with enthusiasm to an invitation to become more entrepreneurial. But what all must understand is that, if we are to continue to make progress as a university, all claims to new resources -- and all claims to maintain existing resources -- will have to be based on these initiatives.

    Initiative One: Offering High-Quality Education to Outstanding Undergraduates

    In part, our task in undergraduate education will involve expanding and capitalizing on a number of our recent successes. The recognition accorded to our new University Honors and College Park Scholars programs, for example, confirms one of the results of recent research on the collegiate experience: students perform better, and have a more positive attitude toward their college or university, when they can enjoy access to faculty outside the traditional classroom setting. It is also recognized that students learn more, and better, when they can play active roles in the learning process, are given opportunities for team-based work, and when theoretical instruction is reinforced by real-world application. Some of the most successful of our recent reforms in undergraduate education capitalize on these principles.

    The campus has also been recognized as an innovator in undergraduate science education. In introductory Biology courses our students are now able to isolate, clone, and analyze genetic materials. A wide range of sophisticated instrumentation is employed in upper-level courses -- electron microscopes, microscopy/computer imaging systems, and biochemical and electronic analytical instruments that approximate those currently in use in research laboratories. Our students can also obtain data on the environment directly from NASA and EPA, and our undergraduate engineering students employ state-of-the-art design models through computer links with both federal agencies and private industry.

    The use of computers in connection with instruction has grown enormously during the past several years, and the University can lay claim to several leading experts in the area of instructional uses of computers as well as a number of innovative programs in business, engineering, and other areas. Computers have transformed the character of daily academic life, from course registration and obtaining final grades to e-mail communication between students and teachers, computer-based learning programs, and access to information sources around the globe. But one of our greatest challenges remains the incorporation of new information technologies within regular classroom instruction and student advising.

    The undergraduate research-award program has provided a limited number of our students with the special kind of educational experiences that are available only at a research university. Our extensive international programs and proximity to the nation's capital supply us with a rich set of resources for educating our students for "tomorrow's global society." Our diverse student body, faculty, and staff, and our commitment to maintaining an inclusive campus environment will help us to prepare our students to succeed in the America of the next century. Thus, to a significant degree, our task will be to find ways to capitalize on our present strengths and to solidify recent gains.

    But we must also provide incentives and rewards for those units eager to innovate, and deliver improved results. The primary role of the campus administration and college deans in this regard must be the same as that described under Initiative Four below: to encourage and inspire innovative efforts, rather than to conceive and institute new programs on their own. A central part of their task, to put it more bluntly, must be to remove resources from less effective programs and to reallocate them to units ready, willing, and able to improve the quality of the undergraduate experience.

    The plans submitted by individual departments and colleges provide ample evidence that our faculty and staff will respond well to such a challenge. Among the initiatives mentioned:

    We should also focus a greater degree of attention to recruiting and retaining larger numbers of highly-qualified students. Campus-level programs such as University Honors and College Park Scholars play a major role, but decisions made by prospective students and their families are influenced by a variety of factors. Renowned faculty and excellent curricula are important, but so also is evidence that the institution provides a nurturing campus community, a stimulating intellectual environment, effective advising and job-placement programs, along with an array of special enrichment activities. Programs that can capitalize on the resources available in the nation's capital are also likely to attract considerable positive interest. Here again the task of the administration will be to provide incentives to individuals and units to develop special recruiting measures, and to support those units that are able to deliver good results.

    Specific Steps:

    1. Increase funding for the University Honors Program to insure that ample numbers of courses and seminars will be taught by the campus's best faculty; increase funding for the College Park Scholars program and invite proposals from units for several additional living-learning programs.
    2. Target private giving to increase annual expenditures for merit scholarships; increase need-based aid, and expand the number of opportunities for undergraduates to participate in faculty research activities.
    3. Provide tangible incentives and rewards for those units and faculty who are prepared to take measures that will significantly enhance the quality of their undergraduate major programs and related activities, for both general and honors students.
    4. Direct the college deans and selected faculty to work with the Director of Undergraduate Admissions to develop measures that will increase the number of academically-talented students enrolling at College Park, with special emphasis on recruiting larger numbers of academically-talented minority students. Among the specific measures to be considered:
      • Creating a National Leadership Fellows Program for outstanding freshmen interested in studying public policy (which could include internships on Capitol Hill with home-state legislators, along with other federal agency or White House internships; a waiver of out-of-state tuition for students selected for the program; special recognition from home state media; etc.); and
      • Developing a set of computer applications for students to provide access to academic information such as syllabi, as well as access to each other in electronic class groups and study groups.
    5. Direct the Division of Student Affairs to conduct research (through the use of surveys, focus groups, exit interviews, etc.) on the quality of the undergraduate student experience. Determine which programs, units, or activities are making a significant contribution and which need to improve. Implement the insights gained from these studies by making changes in policies and practices where needed and allocating additional resources to the most successful units. Among the specific measures to be considered:
      • Requiring each department to participate in the campus's "Advise Five" Program or in comparable student-support, advising, or mentoring activities in the individual colleges; and
      • Developing a set of "student link-up" computer programs: "automatic course clusters" in which any student can obtain the phone number or e-mail address of other students with whom he or she is taking the same classes; and "study group lists" provided to any student seeking to assemble a study group in a particular course.

    Initiative Two: Building Cornerstone Programs of Excellence in Graduate Education and Research

    The Ph.D. is the signature degree of the research university and one of the key determinants of a university's academic standing. We must be certain, therefore, that all our doctoral programs operate at a level of indisputable quality. At last count, College Park had 66 doctoral programs. Most are above average, as categorized by the recent National Research Council study or comparable professional assessments. A few rank among the very best in the nation. However, many do not. And more than a handful fall below the mean. For too long, we have articulated a dream of world-class status while accepting the status quo when the lack of additional State funding thwarted our efforts to convert dreams into reality. It is time to take a different approach.

    The University cannot afford to be -- nor do we want to be -- a doctoral supermarket. Rather, we want every Ph.D. program we operate to enjoy a level of distinction, even if this means we must eliminate existing programs. Our overriding commitment must be operating only those programs that can measure up to the highest standards of quality. Clearly, we now possess a number of strong graduate programs in science and technology, public policy, and the professional schools. These programs will be encouraged to sharpen their focus and develop areas of national eminence. But we cannot claim to be a great university unless we are also strong in core arts and sciences areas, including life sciences, arts, and humanities. One of our objectives must be to raise some of the Ph.D. programs within Arts and Humanities and Life Sciences into the "distinguished" category.

    The plans submitted by various campus units show clearly that the concepts of targeted opportunities and selectivity have become part of campus thinking:

    Drawing on these efforts we will call on all the college deans to identify a limited number of programs in their units to be targeted for excellence. But if we are to attain the level of distinction we seek, we must also anticipate a reduction in the number of doctoral and master's programs. National eminence in research will also require an upgrading of faculty-salary and graduate-stipend levels. We should also seek additional ways to tap the enormous set of intellectual resources located in the national capital region, and to build on the progress in diversity we have made as an institution in order to recruit larger numbers of women and minority faculty and graduate students.

    Specific Steps:

    1. Charge the Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, working with the Graduate Council, to carry out a comprehensive review, which may include outside experts, of the quality and potential of current master's and doctoral programs. The criteria will include academic quality relative to the competition, centrality to the vision of excellence and initiatives set out in this plan, and cost-effectiveness.

      The process will start with programs at the extremes -- those already rated, through respected professional evaluations, as particularly strong or particularly weak. The purpose of the former reviews will be to plot the best course to further excellence and, where indicated, greater efficiency. The purpose of the latter reviews will be to offer departments an opportunity to explain their program's standing and relative merit, and to determine whether these programs should be discontinued.

      The evaluation process will include a review of all programs which APAC and the President's Cabinet, after consultation with the College Park Senate, deem central to the strategic initiatives presented in this plan. Over time, all master's and doctoral programs will undergo scrutiny.

      A comprehensive review of master's and doctoral programs is not just an exercise in internal reallocation. The process will enable the campus to shift resources from lower to higher priorities and from problems to opportunities -- no small accomplishment. Equally important, it will help us to sharpen our now indistinct image and blurred profile. Professionals and laypersons alike will better understand the campus's particular areas of special expertise. In addition, since students and donors naturally seek out what they regard as "the best universities," better graduate programs will enable us to attract better graduate students and more external support.
    2. Develop a salary structure and fringe-benefits package that will enable us to compete effectively for outstanding faculty with the leading public research universities.
    3. Reinvigorate initiatives designed to attract to the campus larger numbers of minority and women faculty.
    4. Develop recruitment/retention strategies for graduate students with special attention to underrepresented minorities and women; establish and monitor goals for retention and graduation rates of all graduate students.
    5. Establish graduate-fellowship and teaching-assistantship stipends competitive with those at our officially designated peer institutions.
    6. Using recent agreements with NASA, NIH, Archives II, Army Research Laboratories, and USDA as models, develop innovative partnerships with federal laboratories and agencies to increase research opportunities in our strongest programs.
    7. Develop and implement a set of strategies that will enable the Campus Library System to begin to correct some long-standing deficiencies in monograph holdings, serials, and staffing. This will inevitably require increases in funding for the library. It will also be necessary to capitalize on existing information-technology expertise in order to gain increased access to research materials located at other sites. In addition, library operations and policies will need to be closely coordinated with current academic priorities in all parts of the campus.

      Although correcting current deficiencies in the Library System exceeds our current financial capacities, the provision of a set of library resources capable of meeting the needs of students and faculty in all units must remain one of the institution's most important goals.

      Initiative Three: Increasing the University's Contribution to Society

      In many areas in the nation, public research universities -- especially those founded as land-grant institutions -- have been catalysts for economic development and providers of a wide range of professional services. Historically, the University of Maryland has been instrumental in improving business and agricultural practices throughout the State, helping to preserve the State's priceless natural resources, fostering economic growth by aiding in the development of new technologies and products, enhancing the quality of education in the public schools, and enriching the cultural life of citizens throughout the region. The recent return of the Cooperative and Agricultural Extension Services to their historic home in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources represents both a confirmation and renewal of the University's long-standing commitment of service to the State and its citizens. We will continue to promote through our research and instructional activities the health and safety of the people of Maryland, and the well being of the State's natural environment and resources.

      In recent decades, however, the provision of continuing education, executive-training programs, and other special educational services has been part of the official mission of University College, not College Park. Only in the past several years has the campus undertaken to capitalize on the vast research and instructional expertise of its faculty in order to respond more directly to the growing demand for instructional programs outside our regular curriculum. The plans submitted by the colleges make it clear that many units are ready and willing to increase these activities:

      • The College of Library and Information Services plans to offer six to twelve short courses each year by 1996, and to increase faculty participation on State boards and projects;
      • The College of Business and Management plans to expand its MBA program in the Baltimore area and implement a "Business and Management Strike Force" modeled after the Technology Extension Service;
      • The College of Education plans to develop an Institute for Continuous School Improvement, and offer targeted non-degree programs for educational leaders;
      • The College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences plans to provide short courses to update the skills of the State's professional workforce and increase contact with the K-12 educational community to assist in curriculum development driven by the National Science Education Standards; and
      • The College of Engineering plans to build up enrollments in its Professional Master's program, organize industrial consortia aimed at bringing emerging technologies to industrial application, and expand its ITV system to make courses available to every business and residence in the State.
      In addition to expanding our continuing-education programs, we will also make it easier for those outside the institution seeking technical assistance to identify and make direct contact with the appropriate members of our faculty. This applies to the provision of expertise in areas of science and applied technology, public policy, business, and education as well as facilitating greater access to the campus's enormous information-technology resources.

      Specific Steps:

      1. Support the efforts of the Dean for Continuing Education and other academic units to increase significantly the number of high-quality executive and continuing education offerings in both degree and non-degree programs.
      2. Provide permanent funding to support the activities of the campus office charged with coordinating the provision of research expertise to State offices (UMCAPS).
      3. Support campus efforts to make the University a national leader in research and outreach relating to urban education.
      4. Drawing upon plans from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the College of Education, and the School of Public Affairs, create an organizational structure that will support and highlight our faculty's expertise in public-policy issues of state, national, and global significance.
      5. Develop the new Center for the Performing Arts to become the region's primary resource for the artistic expression of the region's rich diversity of cultures.
      6. Create an Office of Private Sector Relations to better coordinate the University's many economic development activities and to increase interaction with the business community; use this office as a catalyst to make the College Park campus the recognized leader in the State in university support of economic development.
      7. Support efforts to engage students, faculty, and staff in service-learning opportunities that enhance the academic experience and improve the quality of life for the citizens of the State.

        Initiative Four: Encouraging Entrepreneurship

        Historically, State appropriations have been the main source of the University's financial support. As a consequence, the University's fortunes, and our morale, have risen and fallen in direct relation to the condition of the State's financial health -- thus the pendulum swing from the "enhancement" era of 1986 to the "retrenchment" period which began in 1991. In today's environment it is unwise for any institution to rely on any one source of support, especially when that source is State government. University operations will stand on a far more secure financial footing when its revenues derive from many different sources.

        Fortunately, there are a number of additional revenue opportunities, and we have begun to capitalize on some of them. Indeed, the campus's level of sponsored research has shown a steady increase over the last decade. However, a sizable and largely undeveloped entrepreneurial potential still remains to be tapped. Among the possibilities: joint ventures with industry, executive education and other non-degree instructional programs, licensing and patenting, instructional television, and technical-assistance centers. In each of these respects, our under-developed entrepreneurial capacities represent the single most promising means for diversifying our sources of revenue and securing a degree of financial stability even in the face of sharp fluctuations in State funding levels. We must, therefore, work to empower and expedite the efforts of those departments, colleges, and individual faculty members who have the capacity and desire to generate and utilize new sources of support.

        It would appear that a number of campus units have already been thinking along these lines. For example:

        • The College of Life Sciences plans to offer evening courses for students preparing to attend medical school, and to begin offering MCAT preparation courses;
        • The College of Arts and Humanities proposes to implement a development plan in connection with the new performing arts center, and to identify new and non-traditional audiences for the Arts at Maryland;
        • The College of Education plans to establish, in collaboration with national professional organizations, telecommunication-based professional development programs to serve educators throughout the country;
        • The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences plans to develop and market training programs in research methodologies; and
        • The College of Business and Management plans to restructure the Mid-Atlantic Investment Network so that investment activity increases to $2 million by FY 96 and increases by 25 percent annually thereafter.
        • It should be understood by all parties that our objective here is not that faculty in all campus units should proceed to do whatever makes money, or to do only what makes money. Rather, our point is that we should encourage those academic units that are prepared to do so to pursue activities that are consistent with the campus's mission, grow out of the expertise of the faculty, and have sufficient value in the marketplace to generate positive cash flow. Indeed, many entrepreneurial efforts have the potential to generate substantial academic benefits -- as in the recent partnership agreement between Molecular and Cell Biology and NIH, or the proposed joint Center for Earth Science Systems with Goddard. The campus administration will also continue to identify new sources of revenue, with the understanding that not all forms of privatizing and commercial collaboration will advance the interests of the University.

        Specific Steps:

        While the primary initiative in this area must come from individual faculty and units, the campus administration must strongly encourage and support entrepreneurial activities. More specifically, it should:

        1. Develop guidelines to define forms of entrepreneurship and the level of entrepreneurial activity appropriate to academic units.
        2. Create budgetary incentives that will distribute revenues in ways that encourage units to be entrepreneurial, and ensure that entrepreneurial activities are recognized and rewarded along with high-quality research and teaching in the context of salary, promotion, and tenure decisions.
        3. Explore the creation of a "seed money" revolving fund to support entrepreneurial activities.
        4. Devise ways to translate ideas into plans and plans into actions in the smoothest and most efficient manner possible. The aim of the administration will be to aid and empower faculty entrepreneurship rather than to manage entrepreneurial activities in campus units.
        5. Using the recent joint venture with Lockheed Martin as a model, assign the Director of Private Sector Relations responsibility for the development of innovative partnerships with state and regional firms.

          Within its own area of activity, the campus administration will continue to seek to diversify sources of revenue and gain higher levels of private support. More specifically, it will:
        6. Increase efforts to develop and market licenses and patents.
        7. Support the development of the College Park Metro site to become a center for science/policy/high-tech organizations and businesses.
        8. Redirect at least $1 million of endowment earnings into building a stronger and more comprehensive fund-raising capability.
        9. Launch a major capital campaign focusing on endowed faculty chairs, student scholarships and fellowships and libraries; and increasing corporate and foundation giving in support of educational programs and technology infrastructure.
        10. Raise at least $20 million from private sources in support of the Maryland Center for the Performing Arts.
        11. Establish an endowment to support our increasingly strong ties and extensive set of activities in East Asia and the Chinese-speaking world.

        Initiative Five: Rationalizing Resource Allocation and Administrative Operations

        Achieving the goals set out under our first four initiatives will require a thorough review of current funding levels in every unit, using the criteria of quality relative to peers, centrality relative to identified strategies and goals, and cost-effectiveness relative to the best standards of practice in higher education and the private sector. It will also require that we develop more responsive and efficient means of delivering administrative services to faculty, students, and external constituents.

        At the unit level this means that department chairs must insure that they are utilizing their resources in an optimum fashion relative to the goals set out in this strategic plan. Are instructional resources being distributed appropriately among the different instructional levels? Are the specific talents of individual faculty for research, teaching, service, or entrepreneurial activities being taken into account when semester workload assignments are made?

        At the college and campus levels, this will require a greater degree of budgetary discipline than has usually been in effect in the past. Recognizing that there will always be some unanticipated opportunities that demand special resource allocations, there must nevertheless be a firm commitment to avoiding an ad hoc distribution of resources based entirely on the most recent "great idea." The colleges and campus also must be prepared to consider significant changes in their organizational structures in order to meet the plan's goals.

        In addition, the campus must work to identify and scrap inefficient or unwieldy procedures which frustrate students, staff, and faculty, and impair the campus's ability to provide high-quality services at a reasonable cost. In recent years the campus has succeeded in creating a "paperless" academic appointment system along with many other improvements made in connection with Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). We must continue these efforts if the University is to enjoy effective working relationships with private-sector firms and improve its competitive position. Here also unit operations must be reviewed using the criteria of strategic centrality, competitive quality, and cost-effectiveness.

        Specific Steps:

        1. In all future resource-allocation decisions in all four administrative divisions, give special advantage to those units and individuals whose activities most directly advance strategic initiatives One through Four. More specifically:
          • The President and Provost will develop an annual budget process in which each college and administrative division will be given an opportunity to request additional resources and explain how the planned expenditures for the coming year will advance the goals set out in this plan;
          • Based on these submissions, the President and Provost working in conjunction with the college deans will remove resources from units judged to be less central to the University's strategic objectives, or less effective, or less efficient, and assign these resources to units better positioned to achieve excellence. It should be anticipated that not all colleges will fare equally well in adjustments to the permanent budget or in short-term allocations of Designated Research Initiative Funds (DRIF) and other available soft monies. However, all colleges will be expected to develop at least some first-rank programs;
          • At the collegiate level, the deans, working in concert with their faculties, will identify those units, or programs within units, that are -- or could soon become -- "signature programs" or "cornerstones of quality," programs with a solid and documentable claim to national eminence. All college deans will be expected to develop plans for achieving excellence in targeted areas, funded largely through internal reallocation and self-generated revenues. It must also be anticipated that not all units in the college will fare equally well in this process; and
          • At the individual unit level, chairs will ensure that units adhere to exacting standards in faculty appointments and promotions, merit increment allocations, and in assessing the quality of research and instruction. They must also seek to organize the unit's activities under the terms of a plan which links activities in the unit with the campus's broader strategic objectives. Resources must be concentrated in order to support the work of the most outstanding individuals and sub-groups within the unit.
          In short, in the future all significant resource-allocation decisions shall be informed and guided by the goals and priorities set out in the present plan.
        2. Develop and implement a set of strategies that will address the campus's information-technology needs and maintain College Park on the leading edge of information technology into the 21st century.
        3. Support fully the Business Process Reengineering project now underway; place special emphasis on creating "paperless" administrative processes.
        4. Extend CQI efforts across the campus in order to increase the level of "customer" satisfaction with University services, explore extension of CQI into academic advising, and the administration of units.
        5. Recruit and retain high-quality staff; increase efforts to recruit minorities and women in areas where they have been historically underrepresented; support full implementation of the Performance Review and Development (PRD) process.
        6. Establish on-going surveys to test University services against market rates.
        7. Explore opportunities for "managed competition" that will allow the private sector to compete for the provision of services in selected areas.


        The effective implementation of any set of strategies requires that:

        • Those responsible for implementing the strategy understand and support it;
        • Specific steps be placed on a timetable and assigned to the appropriate individuals;
        • The resources and other tools needed for implementation be made available; and
        • A set of standards be developed in order to measure the effectiveness of specific actions.
        Utilizing this framework, we propose to implement our five strategic initiatives as follows:

        Informing the Campus Community

        The present document grows out of a process of deliberation that has consumed almost two years and involved nearly all units on the campus. By now, we believe, the need for decisive action should be clear to virtually everyone. It is essential, however, for all faculty and staff to become familiar with the measures we propose so they can understand clearly how they and their units can respond in the most effective manner. Accordingly:

        • A complete (or suitably condensed) version of the Strategic Plan as reviewed and approved by campus groups and officials will be distributed to all members of the faculty and staff;
        • The President and/or Provost will personally present and discuss the contents of the vision and strategy with APAC, the Council of Deans, the Senate, as well as several of the larger units on the campus; and
        • Key elements of the Strategic Plan will be described and explained in Outlook, the Diamondback, and the campus's computer-information services.

        Implementation Assignments and Timelines

        We anticipate that our analyses and recommendations will be reviewed and approved as modified by the appropriate campus groups and officials. Once this process has been completed, perhaps by the end of the Spring semester of 1996, it will be necessary to create an implementation plan on the basis of the approved version of the document. That plan should specify which office or individual is charged with implementing each recommendation, the time limit for completing the task, and the level of resources to be made available during the next fiscal year in support of the initiative.

        Anticipated Resources

        As has been indicated, State appropriations for the University are projected to remain essentially flat over the next five-year period. Current estimates call for a series of increases in General Fund support averaging three percent per year between FY 97 and FY 01, a level of support which will at best maintain campus operations at their present level. The campus is expected to receive $2 million in additional funds in the FY 97 budget, which will be targeted for faculty salaries and enhancements in undergraduate education (including increased student financial aid). Under the terms of the campus's approved tuition plan, it is scheduled to obtain a series of increases in tuition over the next several years. However, even these increases and increments in State appropriations will be insufficient to offset costs associated with inflationary increases and the operation of new facilities.

        Since State appropriations will be insufficient to underwrite the costs of new programs and activities, we have no choice but to turn to other sources. The primary source of funds to support the plan is our existing $700 million budget. Over the next five years, through a rigorous budget process, we will expect units to realign their budgets to support the objectives of this plan. Wherever possible, we must also attempt to free up existing resources from the campus budget -- through the imposition of small-percentage annual levies, collection and redistribution of vacant faculty and staff lines, and other economies. In addition, we must attempt to generate substantial additional revenues through entrepreneurial activities and seek additional gifts, grants, and awards from private-sector groups and individuals. The absence of additional State funds should not be viewed as an impediment to implementing the plan; it is rather part of the stark reality that has prompted the development of our plan in its entirety.

        Assessing the Effectiveness of the Strategic Plan

        We propose that the following indicators be used in order to monitor the extent of progress made during each of the next five years:

        • The quality of the undergraduate student body as indicated by SAT scores, the number of merit scholars, higher retention and graduation rates, the percentages of women and minorities enrolled -- especially in disciplines where they have been underrepresented in the past, the placement of graduates in prestigious graduate and professional schools, and the number of graduates awarded prestigious fellowships and awards. The effectiveness of our undergraduate educational programs as indicated by the measures mandated by the Maryland Higher Education Commission for use by all higher-education institutions in the State: surveys of employer satisfaction, employment rates, results of licensing and certification exams, etc. The level of student satisfaction with the undergraduate education they have received at College Park as indicated by surveys of currently enrolled students and recent graduates;
        • Excellence in graduate education and research as measured by the quality of our graduate students, the number of doctoral and professional Master's programs recognized as distinguished, the placement of these degree recipients in prestigious positions and institutions, the number of faculty receiving major prizes and honors, standing among identified peer institutions in various measures of research significance (numbers of NSF Fellows, Presidential Young Investigators, levels of sponsored research, etc.), the percentages of tenure-track minority and women faculty, and the number of minority and women graduate students receiving degrees;
        • The extent of the University's contribution to society as measured by the number of services delivered to local, State, and federal agencies; enrollments in executive and continuing-education programs; and the number of high-tech firms locating in the College Park area. The level of satisfaction with campus research and advisory services as indicated in surveys of user communities; and
        • The level of entrepreneurial activity as measured by the amount of increase in revenues from non-State sources -- including revenue from intellectual properties, executive education and non-degree programs, private giving, privatization efforts, and partnerships with State and regional firms.
        During the next five years those departments undergoing regularly scheduled unit-reviews will be evaluated with respect to the quality of their performance as measured by three criteria: strategic centrality, competitive quality, and cost-efficiency. The over-riding consideration in these reviews, as in all other future resource decisions, must be how far and how quickly each unit can advance the University toward the goals set out under each initiative. The campus's Office of Planning will be expected to play a major role in generating and analyzing the data required for effective management of the plan.


        It is no overstatement to say that the University of Maryland has arrived at a crossroads in its development. Through the dedicated efforts of many people over an extended period of time, it has raised the level of its academic quality to the point where it is now within striking distance of the top tier of America's public research universities. The stagnation of our traditional sources of revenue now threatens not only to halt this process of improvement but to undo many of the gains we have made. We must not allow this to happen.

        If our plan is to succeed, it will need to be broadly supported and energetically implemented by a broad cross-section of the campus community. It offers a role for everyone to play in helping to move the institution toward a set of admirable goals. The economic realities of our times mean that, if we are to succeed, units and individuals will have to focus their efforts on those particular aspects of the plan they are best able to support. This will not be easy. It will require that we all place a higher priority on pursuing our collective excellence than has been the case in the past. But, as we begin our task, not the least of our assets is a strategic plan that can help us to focus our resources and energies in pursuit of our most important objectives.