Strategic Plan - The University of Tulsa

Strategic Plan


With the fall 2017 entering class, and each class thereafter, increase the university’s four-year graduation rate to 70 percent and six-year graduation rate to 80 percent.

1.1 Centralized Retention Team. Create a centralized student retention team that begins interacting with students when they signal an intent to enroll and continues working with students through graduation to develop, manage, implement and account for retention initiatives.

  • Systematically measure and assess the root causes of TU’s retention and graduation rates for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Centralize and standardize the collection and storage of all data relevant to retention and outcomes.
  • Establish a student success center to house all student retention team initiatives and streamline the student experience.
  • Strengthen academic and peer advising, extend the freshman orientation experience and explore assigning all freshmen a life/professional coach for the duration of their time at TU.
  • Match each incoming freshman with an alumnus or alumna mentor.
  • Add resources to the Counseling and Psychological Services Center.
  • Reallocate resources for a multicultural coordinator position.
  • Offer affordable and accessible tutoring to undergraduates.

1.2 Student-Centered Culture. Cultivate among faculty and staff a student-centered culture that focuses on individual attention to students and pedagogical strategies oriented to students’ learning, skill development and success.

  • Reintroduce staff service-training programs.
  • Regularly reward and recognize faculty and staff for actively practicing a student-centered approach.
  • Implement a “step into their shoes” task force to identify and expeditiously correct all poor university experiences a prospective or current student or family may experience.
  • Establish regular channels of communication between students and administrators.

1.3 Summer Programs. Intentionally deploy the summer term to accelerate student progress toward degree completion.

  • Reduce the per-credit tuition for the summer term.
  • Allow students to “bank” unused credits during the fall and spring semesters to use tuition-free during the summer term.
  • Offer affordable summer workshops to buttress incoming student math and writing skills.
  • Offer additional summer courses, including online courses, to amplify options for students to earn credit during the summer.
  • Expand JumpstartTU (incoming freshman travel experience).

1.4 Accessibility and Affordability. Allocate financial resources to students to mitigate financial stress due to unanticipated family and/or economic circumstances.

  • Endow pool of need-based financial aid to augment awards to students to mitigate impact of changed economic circumstances.
  • Guarantee retention of institutional financial aid for students who remain in good standing.
  • Increase institutional aid for transfer, nontraditional and part-time students.
  • Guarantee each incoming cohort a fixed tuition rate for four years.


Grow total enrollment (headcount) to a minimum of 5,400, with undergraduate enrollment at 3,700, graduate enrollment at 1,000, law enrollment at 400, and 300 enrolled in executive education and other mid- or advanced-career professional programs.

2.1 Access and Opportunity. Reduce the cost and perceived cost of a TU education for all.

  • Grow resources available for need-based institutional aid through shifting some merit aid to need-based aid.
  • Raise endowment for need-based financial aid to move toward meeting full need in the financial aid methodology.
  • Rebalance published tuition and financial aid distribution to maximize enrollment and net tuition revenue.
  • Establish a loan forgiveness program through endowment and through formalized agreements with corporate partners.
  • Endow scholarships and hire a diversity outreach admissions counselor to further the student recruitment goals in the Diversity Action Plan

2.2 Value and Outcomes. Support students and alumni in meeting and exceeding their career and professional aspirations.

  • Reimagine and relaunch a TU Center for Career Development and Alumni Engagement in a way that is responsive to the needs of end-users (students, employers and alumni).
  • Expand marketing and messaging to effectively communicate student and alumni outcomes through career placement data and stories of alumni career trajectories.
  • Enhance marketing of programs and majors that emphasize marketable skills.
  • Expand support for and promotion of the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC) and other student-faculty research opportunities.

2.3 Alumni Engagement. In conjunction with the enrollment management team, actively engage TU alumni chapters in student recruitment and enrollment.

  • Establish TU Alumni ambassador program for all admitted applicants.
  • Designate an alumni recruitment coordinator to manage efforts between the Office of Alumni Relations and Enrollment Management.

2.4 Parent Engagement. Systematically reach out to parents of prospective students during the recruitment process.

  • Establish a parent ambassador program comprised of current students’ parents to assist admission counselors in the student recruitment process.
  • Utilize TU alumni chapters and networks as ambassadors to engage with parents.

2.5 Student Pipeline. Intentionally grow the student pipeline in response to demographic trends.

  • Utilize the summer term to showcase TU’s strengths to promising high school freshmen and sophomores and expose them to the college environment.
  • Formalize partnerships with organizations and foundations dedicated to supporting and mentoring low- and middle-income high school students through the college application process (see also Branded Partnerships, 5.1).
  • Formalize articulation agreements with Tulsa Community College in conjunction with the Pathways initiative.
  • Intentionally develop a more robust and diverse applicant pool for graduate degree programs.

2.6 Integrated Marketing and Communications. Strengthen the TU brand through purposeful orchestration of consistent marketing and communications.

  • Hire or outsource a senior-level manager with marketing expertise to establish and lead a university-wide marketing team, including staff from University Relations, Enrollment Management, Alumni Relations and the collegiate units.
  • Coordinate marketing, communications and messaging across all divisions and departments.
  • Engage prospective students through student-centric stories published on the TU website and communicated via video platforms, social media and email.
  • Target cutting-edge faculty research for earned media in national outlets.

2.7 Executive Education and Professional Programs.

  • Launch competitively priced online and/or hybrid courses, certificates and/or degree offerings in areas that will showcase TU’s academic strengths and emerging strengths, meet the professional needs of alumni and support economic development initiatives in the Tulsa region.
  • Locate the Office of Executive Education and Professional Programs with the TU Center for Career Development and Alumni Engagement.
  • Reorient academic and co-curricular programs to catalyze a campus-wide culture of innovation and research as the best means to prepare students for our current and future knowledge-based economy.


Reorient academic and co-curricular programs to catalyze a campus-wide culture of innovation and research as the best means to prepare students for our current and future knowledge-based economy.

3.1 Assess Academic Programs. Assess and where needed redesign academic programs to ensure graduates are well grounded in the skills that contribute to innovation (i.e., creative thinking, complex problem solving, communication and collaboration), and realign resources internally to support programs that do so.

  • Beginning in 2019, evaluate programs annually to ensure students develop the skills that contribute to innovation and to identify critical holes in academic offerings.
  • Review, revise and re-imagine the Tulsa Curriculum to assure alignment with such skills while maintaining fidelity to the core educational values at the heart of TU’s Mission.
  • Revise and/or develop courses, certificates, minors, master degree programs, graduate research initiatives and doctoral programs that encourage students to take advantage of opportunities to learn and develop skills across colleges or to explore complex problems through cross-, multi-, and interdisciplinary lenses.
  • Assist Gilcrease Museum and the Helmerich Center for American Research to identify and support interdepartmental and intercollegiate partnerships and research.
  • By 2019, identify one or two “skate to where the puck will be” areas of campus-wide focus and investment as the future foundation of TU’s local, national and international impact and reputation.

3.2 Faculty Hiring and Development. Focus faculty hiring to align with strategic objectives, including the focus on a student-centered culture and a diversified faculty (see Diversity Action Plan, Section V).

  • In consultation with deans and department chairs, centralize faculty allocation decisions in the President’s and/or Provost’s office(s) to assure alignment with strategic academic priorities and further the university’s mission.
  • Develop hiring processes to assure all incoming faculty are or are willing to become strong teachers who will contribute to a culture of innovation through interactive, collaborative and problem-solving teaching methodologies; and, for tenure-track faculty, assure that faculty are also willing to engage in cutting-edge research, scholarship and/or creative endeavors.
  • Implement faculty coaching to promote innovation in teaching and incentivize faculty to experiment with new teaching methods, including the development of new courses, service learning opportunities, project-based learning experiences and co-curricular offerings.

3.3 Faculty Research, Scholarship and/or Creative Endeavors. Intentionally encourage faculty research, scholarship and creative endeavors as a means to further a campus-wide culture of innovation.

  • Allocate additional university resources to directly support and propel faculty research, scholarship and creative endeavors.
  • Recognize and reward at the university level excellence in research, scholarship and creative endeavors.
  • Encourage faculty to utilize research, scholarship and creative endeavors to enhance classes and academic programs and to expand faculty-student research collaborations.

3.4 Internships, Clinical Learning and Global Learning. Offer internship or clinical opportunities, as well as global learning opportunities, to all TU undergraduate students by embedding credit-bearing internships, clinics and study abroad opportunities in all undergraduate degree programs.

  • Designate the TU Center for Career Development and Alumni Engagement as a centralized repository and incubator for student internships and engage alumni as a critical source for internships.
  • Diversify internships beyond TU’s historic strengths and geographic areas of focus to coincide with the Branded Partnership (5.1) strategy.
  • Allocate resources to fund student summer internships through establishing endowments and partnering with the private sector and philanthropic organizations.
  • Encourage and incentivize faculty to redesign some classes to include for-credit, field-based service learning or clinical experiences, particularly in conjunction with the Branded Partnership (5.1) strategy.
  • Strengthen support for the Center for Global Education and Global Scholars program.

3.5 Co-curricular Programs. Complement academic programming by building a co-curricular program that spurs creative thinking and problem-solving skills by tapping students’ natural strengths, interests and curiosities.

  • Evaluate the feasibility of and, if practical, designate a significant block per week as class-free, co-curricular time to engage students, faculty, staff, alumni, community leaders and high school students with cutting-edge issues and problems in a nonsiloed, risk-free cross-disciplinary environment.
  • House, support and market under the umbrella of a TU Center for Leadership faculty-led co-curricular programs, as well as College Philanthropy Initiative, Early Careers in Community Medicine, Global Scholars, Honors Program, Presidential Leaders Fellowship and Presidential Scholars.
  • Reorient the Gilcrease Museum and the Helmerich Center for American Research as living laboratories for co-curricular programming.
  • Further campus-wide understanding of TU Athletics as a co-curricular program that complements academic programming by tapping athletes’ strengths, interests and curiosities and, in turn, schedule and structure nonathletic co-curricular programming in a way that best accommodates athletes’ schedules and allows for their participation.

3.6 Technology. Implement a digital first initiative to ensure a systematic institutional commitment to cutting-edge technology for teaching, learning, research and administrative needs.

3.7 Facilities. Assess, and potentially repurpose or reconfigure, facilities to assure that the university’s existing physical plant effectively supports a campus-wide culture of innovation and research.


Provide our students access to an outstanding and diverse faculty and staff.

4.1 Faculty and Staff Compensation and Professional Development. Provide faculty and staff with competitive compensation packages and professional development opportunities to attract and retain the best employees.

  • By Board of Trustees approval of the FY19 budget, outline a plan to reinstate the university’s retirement contribution to nine percent for all employees, delineating specific benchmarks toward partial and/or full reinstatement, and begin immediate implementation thereafter.
  • By 2019, articulate a transparent, principled program of competitive faculty and staff compensation consistent with the values set forth in the Mission and Vision and embodied in the TU Commitment.
  • By 2020, establish faculty and staff development programs that transparently and equitably support attendance at conferences, workshops or development programs; fund travel; and encourage professional networking.

4.2 Faculty and Staff Diversity. Implement the Diversity Action Plan pertaining to recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty and staff.

4.3 Staff Input. Re-establish and empower the Staff Advisory Council as a mechanism to provide meaningful input to and facilitate communication with the administration.

4.4 Assessment and Accountability.

  • Inject periodic 360-degree reviews into the annual employee review process for all university employees subject to that process, including the president, vice presidents and deans.
  • Create a systematic and uniform annual review process, including periodic 360 reviews, to review the administrative performance of department chairs.
  • Develop a survey instrument that will generate annually a TU employee net promoter score as an intentional means to measure employee satisfaction and campus culture over time.


Achieve recognition as the intellectual engine driving innovation, economic growth, entrepreneurship and justice in the Tulsa region.

5.1 Branded Partnerships. Formalize and brand partnerships with nonprofit organizations, government entities and the private sector in Tulsa and beyond with the goal of creating mutually beneficial relationships that yield service learning, credit bearing internships, funded internships and entrepreneurial or career opportunities for students.

  • Substantively cluster partnerships to support work in community justice, health care and health care delivery, precision medicine, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, neuroscience and energy/renewable energy.
  • Geographically cluster partnerships in Tulsa, while simultaneously establishing a web of inter-city partnerships with entities in Beijing, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Karamay, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.
  • Encourage partners to establish loan forgiveness programs for graduates who join their company, firm or organization.
  • Identify and appoint partner leaders to the TU Board of Trustees.
  • Formalize relationships with local nonprofit and quasi-governmental organizations to establish a “TU seat” (for TU faculty, students and/or staff) on their governing boards.

5.2 Faculty Community Engagement. Encourage faculty to visibly engage in the community, in the private, nonprofit and/or government sectors, by developing transparent processes and policies and by placing explicit value on faculty community relationships in professional reviews and advancement.

5.3 Faculty Research and Graduate Degree Programs. Incentivize faculty research, scholarship and creative endeavors that will further the university’s reputation.

  • Strengthen graduate degree programs, and consider launching additional graduate degree programs, onsite and online, to generate the scholars, innovators, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs to fuel innovation, economic growth, entrepreneurship and justice in the Tulsa region.
  • Work collaboratively and creatively with partners to increase the number of funded teaching assistant positions and/or establish fellowships for graduate students.

5.4 Power of Alumni Network. Accelerate engagement with the TU alumni network.

  • Develop executive and professional education opportunities, virtual and on-site, that assist alumni with evolving professional trajectories and align with opportunities to promote innovation, growth, entrepreneurship and justice (see also Executive Education and Professional Programs, 2.7).
  • Tightly integrate the Office of Career Services and the Office of Alumni Relations through establishing the TU Center for Career Development and Alumni Engagement (Value and Outcomes, 2.2).
  • Institutionalize alumni mentoring program whereby each TU undergraduate is matched with an alumni mentor (see also Centralized Retention Teams, 1.1).
  • Intentionally transition students to the alumni network prior to graduation to assure continuity in their relationship with TU.
  • Leverage social platforms to connect students, alumni, faculty and staff.

5.5 Physical Spaces for Innovation and Collaboration. Repurpose or build physical space to catalyze innovation, collaboration and community engagement.

  • Establish an Idea Lab/Incubator to promote entrepreneurship and assist students, faculty, alumni and community members in seeding and developing new business ventures.
  • As a physical bridge connecting the campus and downtown Tulsa, build (or repurpose existing space) along 6th Street to establish a TU Lab for Community Engagement, open to the university and Tulsa community and designed to stimulate interdisciplinary service learning and social entrepreneurship, to support justice initiatives, to stimulate conversation on local public policy and to house True Blue Neighbors.