Today, The University of Tulsa announced several significant changes that, together, are part of a reimagining of our university to focus on our No. 1 priority: student success. These changes, which are rooted in our five-year strategic plan, radically alter the landscape of our university, making us stronger and nimbler to respond to a changing higher education landscape.
This transformation follows months of analysis and is the most comprehensive, data-driven program evaluation ever undertaken at TU. The review also verified what the TU community already knew: TU is a high-touch, undergraduate-focused institution that provides students with a firm grounding in critical and creative thinking, and that is heavily weighted toward science, technology, engineering and math, with a professional, practical focus.
Key details of these changes are listed below, and the full announcement can be found online at utulsa.edu/truecommitment.
Narrowing our focus
As part of my vision and after months of extensive analysis, we will phase out a variety of academic programs and grow those that offer the most in-demand skill sets in the 21st century – and beyond. We will reduce the number of degree programs, many of which are at the graduate level and have few students. Just 6% of our total student population is enrolled in these programs for their primary degrees. You can find more details here.
We also identified more than 15 current programs primed for growth and expansion. Many of these changes will be implemented over time although our focus on growth begins immediately.
Bolstering student success
We are reimagining the student experience at TU, beginning with a new Student Success Center that centralizes support services such as financial aid, tutoring and career planning. These resources are directly correlated to improved retention and graduation rates. The Student Success Center will house critical student services, streamlining and enhancing support for our students from health and wellness to housing and mentors.
Restructuring departments and colleges
We are rethinking the traditional university structure and streamlining TU’s colleges and departments. Henry Kendall College will house “University Studies,” an academic launchpad for first-year students, as well as four reorganized divisions that will encompass the 15 departments currently in Arts & Sciences as well as biological sciences. The College of Engineering & Natural Sciences will consolidate 10 departments into four divisions; and a new “professional super college” will house our business, health sciences and law colleges. The new structure is still a year or two away, but once it is operational, it will embrace interdisciplinary work across campus and allow our academic and administrative resources to be deployed in better support of our institutional mission.
Engaging with tenured faculty
Our resident faculty is our most valuable asset to meet our strategic goals and support the needs and desires of our students. Updated university policies and smarter deployment of professors will allow us to refocus teaching resources. In time, this re-envisioned academic restructure will allow us to utilize resources more effectively, to better promote interdisciplinary work and to invest in strengthening our remaining programs and supporting faculty development.
What do these changes mean for you as a TU graduate? Your diploma carries the same weight that it did when you graduated and will continue to grow in value as we position TU for the future. We want to ensure that a degree from TU continues to represent a top-tier education that positions alumni for success. The changes we are making will only strengthen our focus on programs with exceptional career outcomes that already distinguish a TU education.
Our university is approaching its 125th year, and it is my job to provide vision and direction to ensure our university is around for another 125 years. You are a vital part of our True Blue legacy. Take an active role in this exciting vision by staying connected to TU. We need you, your voice and your True Blue commitment to carry us forward and continue to make a difference.
Gerard Clancy, M.D.