UConn Adopts Ambitious 10-Year Strategic Plan

Building on the pillars of promoting holistic student success, expanding the University’s research impact, and helping Connecticut thrive

Aerial image of the University of Connecticut during Fall 2023.

Aerial image of the University of Connecticut during Fall 2023. (Tom Rettig/UConn Photo)

UConn has launched the steps to implement a far-reaching 10-year strategic plan built on the pillars of promoting holistic student success, expanding the University’s research impact, and using its strengths to help Connecticut thrive.

The new plan, which goes into effect next year and covers the period through 2034, includes six initiatives to support those pillars and 30 priority actions. It is student-centered at its core, organizers say, while also promoting investment in UConn’s research enterprise and prioritizing fiscal responsibility and stewardship of resources.

It also includes four key performance indicators (KPIs) for which UConn will strive, with many others to be added in 2024 to achieve the specific initiatives named in the plan. The four KPIs, as identified by President Radenka Maric, are:

• Reach and consistently maintain a six-year graduation rate of 90% or more. Currently, about 83% of UConn’s students graduate within six years. While that is notably higher than the national average of 62.2%, it ranks 25th among public universities.

• Receive at least $500 million in research funding annually. UConn received $321.5 million in research awards in FY23, with the School of Medicine receiving the largest portion ($84.2 million), followed by the School of Engineering ($71.9 million).

• Reach a balance of $1 billion in the endowment, which is held and managed by the UConn Foundation for the benefit of the University. UConn’s endowment has been growing steadily – it was $288 million in 2011 – and was $577.2 million at the close of FY23. As the balance grows, more interest income is produced that can be directed to critical priorities such as scholarships and academic fellowships.

• Achieve carbon neutrality, one of Maric’s priority goals as part of a larger push for UConn to become an international model of sustainability in its operations, academics, and research. The plan strives for carbon neutrality by 2030, with the ultimate goal of being carbon zero by 2040.

The University engaged more than 10,000 people in preparing the 2024-2034 Strategic Plan through listening sessions, discussion forums, and surveys of students, employees, and other individuals and groups. They provided thoughtful and detailed feedback that was critical to the plan’s direction, said Margaret Feeney, UConn’s executive director of strategic planning and initiatives.

“People love this University. They care deeply about the student outcomes and care deeply about this University’s impact on society,” Feeney said.

The Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the Strategic Plan at its Dec. 6 meeting, giving university leaders the authority to move forward with academic planning and operational plans needed to implement the measures.

Methods are also being developed to track the progress of specific measures along the way, and will be publicly viewable on the Strategic Planning page of the Provost’s Office website.

The 2024-34 UConn Strategic Plan’s three pillars include six overarching initiatives: the student success journey; excellence in research, innovation, and engagement; the wellness of people and planet; a focus on UConn as seven world-class campuses and one flagship; Husky pride and resilience; and building a stronger, more inclusive University.

Building on its strengths as the state’s public flagship university, the plan envisions deepening its state and community partnerships in education, research, engagement, and outreach. It also includes naming areas of future focus that can position Connecticut as a national and worldwide leader in health and wellness, economic development, and environmental sustainability.

Details of those plans and their associated priority actions are as follows.

Student Success Journey

The plan re-envisions how UConn supports students at all levels to achieve their goals. It centers their needs across all of UConn’s operations, including teaching and learning; academic supports; co-curricular and enrichment opportunities; wellness, and career readiness.

“At its core, this plan centers students in our actions as an institution, signaling that when a student chooses to come to UConn, they will have countless opportunities to connect, learn, and develop,” Maric said in the plan’s introduction.

Priority actions include:

• Ensure first-year and continued student engagement in high impact co-curricular and enrichment opportunities across campuses.
• Strengthen students’ ability to financially navigate undergraduate and graduate school at UConn, and develop financial literacy skills.
• Provide culturally competent, sustained advising to help students successfully navigate their academic and career pathways, including between undergraduate and graduate programs.
• Strengthen life and career readiness competencies in academic and co-curricular activities.
• Strengthen learning through investing in excellent teaching, experiential learning, academic support systems, and high-quality mentorship to enhance student performance through their programs of study.

“Student entrust us to help them achieve greater success in their lives,” the plan says. “It is our goal to provide all students with an excellent education, empower them to achieve personal and professional fulfillment, and support their ability to positively contribute to their communities.”

Excellence in Research, Innovation, and Engagement

While asserting UConn’s prominence among national research institutions, the plan outlines key investment areas that build on the capacity of the University’s research enterprise. They include the recruitment and retention of world-class researchers and scholars at the vanguard of their fields, expanding support for entrepreneurial activities, and other measures.

Priority actions include:

• Prioritize hiring and retention of top-talent faculty conducting cutting-edge research and scholarship in areas of existing or emerging strength at UConn.
• Invest in research infrastructure and systems development to enable greater collaboration, student engagement, data-informed resource allocation, and accountability.
• Translate and disseminate UConn’s impactful research that improves the human experience and contributes to philanthropy, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
• Expand support for entrepreneurial activities (such as startup formation and intellectual property creation) across all disciplines.
• Ensure academic offerings, research, and experiential learning at UConn that fuels economic development and educates Connecticut’s future workforce, including reinforcing the state’s leadership in emerging technologies and health sciences.

“UConn’s greatness is interconnected with its contributions beyond our campuses,” the report says. “Our research and engagement activities fuel knowledge and discovery, transform entrepreneurship and industry, accelerate economic growth and innovation across sectors, and change lives.”

Wellness of People and Planet

This initiative amplifies UConn’s actions on both health and sustainability fronts, organizers say. While the work begins at UConn, the focus also extends beyond its campuses into the local communities and around the globe.

Priority actions include:

• Improve mental health support for students, faculty, and staff, and promote caring and healthy campus environments.
• Engage with local communities in research and policy development to address health disparities, food insecurity, and wellness.
• Address UConn’s carbon footprint through student-engaged climate action plan implementation that articulates academic offerings supporting sustainability.
• Strengthen UConn’s leadership in sustainability through partnerships with established and startup companies, including expanding its impact through private-public partnerships such as the Future Climate Venture Studio.
• Serve as a key partner in state, national, and international efforts to meet sustainability standards.

“At UConn, we recognize that the well-being of people and the health of our planet are inseparable,” the plan says. “Our commitment to a brighter future means fostering the physical, mental, and environmental wellness of our students, faculty, staff, and the world at large.”

Seven World-Class Campuses, One Flagship University

Many UConn students and employees who gave feedback for the strategic planning process cited the presence of UConn campuses throughout the state as one of the University’s strengths. They also want UConn to operate more holistically and efficiently as a university while increasing support for the uniqueness of each campus.

“The goal: No matter the campus, faculty, staff, and student share in a consistent UConn experience,” the report says.

Priority actions include:

• Offer signature regional academic and research programs that are destinations within UConn while also facilitating synergistic academic, research, and outreach programs between campuses.
• Examine the relevance of interdisciplinary and online education, artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurship across disciplines so UConn’s offerings remain competitive nationally and internationally.
• Deliver equitable undergraduate and graduate student support across campuses, including mental health services; student advising; career services; and assistance in facilitating housing, transportation, and dining options.
• Increase operational efficiencies, reduce redundant systems and processes, and create borderless information technology systems that enable campus collaboration and advance analysis and data integration to better serve students.
• Develop efficient and shared facilities that enable 21st century teaching and research.

Husky Pride and Resilience

With more than 280,000 alumni across the globe and 23 national championships held by UConn Athletics teams, UConn pride is everywhere, the report says. This initiative builds on UConn’s excellence in key areas that leverage its school spirit toward increased resilience in support of its institutional priorities.

Priority actions include:

• Celebrate faculty, staff, and student contributions to teaching, research, and service.
• Amplify the impact that UConn’s nationally recognized athletics program has on its school pride and visibility.
• Leverage the comprehensive campaign to foster alumni engagement and philanthropic support for institutional priorities.
• Build UConn’s alumni community and continue to engage, support and celebrate their successes with the world as they move forward in their lives and careers.
• Identify and pursue new revenue opportunities, including industry partnerships and joint ventures that expand technology commercialization and startup creation.

A Stronger, More Inclusive University

The strategic plan’s coordinators say that UConn’s faculty, staff, and students consistently reaffirmed the University’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) during the process: “We believe UConn can set the standard across higher education for how to embrace these principles and infuse them across everything we do,” the plan says.

Priority actions include:

• Expand opportunities for early college experiences and lifelong learning to empower a diverse range of learners.
• Strengthen pipeline programs to provide equitable access to national caliber education for all of Connecticut’s students.
• Cultivate an environment that promotes belonging and inclusion across cultures, identities, and abilities, and empowers each individual to feel connected to the Husky community.
• Recruit diverse faculty and staff, and strengthen strategies that increase their retention.
• Support career progression and professional growth for staff, faculty, teaching and research alike, across all campuses.