Campus Leaders Deliver State of the University Address
October 11, 2023
The 2023 State of the University included several campus leaders who reinforced the U of A’s land-grant mission while providing updates on strategic efforts to strengthen student success and research excellence, as well as enhancing the university’s status as an employer of choice.
“Having a sense of mission is critical,” Chancellor Charles Robinson said. “My appeal to you is about your sense of connection to your community. To make this community better is enough of a mission purpose to galvanize us to work more collectively together.”
Robinson was joined on the stage by Terry Martin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs; Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions; Margaret Sova McCabe, vice chancellor for research and innovation; and Ann Bordelon, executive vice chancellor for finance and administration.
McCray, McCabe and Bordelon, along with Robinson, provided updates on the university’s progress in key areas.
McCray began the State of the University by highlighting the university’s recent achievements in enrollment, as well as increases in retention and scholarship funding.
This semester, the U of A set a record for enrollment for the third consecutive year, welcoming more than 32,000 students for the first time in its history, including a record number of Arkansans enrolled.
“We have a vibrant and exciting campus,” McCray said. “There are a lot of opportunities ahead, and it’s fun to work in a place that is energized about who we’re bringing to campus and what their opportunities are going to be. We want them to come in with those dreams, that ambition, and make sure we do our part so those dreams are realized at the end of the day.”
McCabe followed with an update on the Division of Research and Innovation and the progress that’s been made in research activity, as well as funding.
In just the last year, research expenditures at the U of A have increased by $20 million, and the efforts can be seen across campus. Recently, the university broke ground on the national Multi-User Silicon Carbide Research and Fabrication Facility, or MUSiC, and is nearing completion on its state-of-the-art Institute for Integrative & Innovative Research (I³R) building.
I³R also had a research breakthrough earlier this year when it developed an innovative prosthetic hand that can restore a meaningful sense of touch and grip force.
“Research excellence means we strive to discover, create and disseminate knowledge that benefits society,” McCabe said. “This university is well positioned to play a critical role in areas like the semiconductor industry, environmental research and understanding what the solutions are to our most challenging problems.”
EMPLOYER OF CHOICE
Bordelon spoke on the third pillar of the 150 Forward strategic plan, employer of choice, which can be defined as ensuring that the university is a place where people belong, work toward a meaningful purpose, grow in their current roles and in achieving long-term advancement, and thrive in both their personal and professional lives.
Over the last year, the university has been working to produce several outcomes to support employees – including creating classification and compensation plans that attract and retain top talent, create career paths, help ensure employees feel valued, facilitating flexibility that serves both personal and university needs, and connecting faculty and staff members to the U of A's mission.
“We have a multi-generational employee base like never before,” Bordelon said. “All with unique wants and desires in their careers. People should seek to work at the University of Arkansas, and we want them to grow their careers across our campus, thoughtfully and deliberately, as well as enjoy who they are working with and the relationships they make in our community.”
After answering questions from the audience, Chancellor Robinson closed the State of the University by reinforcing the importance of connecting with the university’s mission while continuing to grow and invest in the university’s future in new ways.
“We have to do things differently than we’ve done them in the past,” he said. “The investment does not come from raising tuition astronomically. It comes from reimagining how we invest. We have a mission and we have a dedication to be the best university in Arkansas that we can be.”