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UAFS provides special support to students who are the first in their families to go to college.

Bell TowerOctober 03, 2023

Charting the Future: University Navigates with Strategic Plan

With a new chancellor at the helm and a centennial anniversary on the horizon, the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith set about defining its course for the next five years by creating a strategic plan.

Following more than 10 months of discussions with stakeholders – faculty, staff, students, alumni, industry partners, and community members – consensus emerged, and the 5-year plan, a mission statement, and a vision statement were formed.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas approved the plan on May 25.

Through it, UAFS gives voice to its commitment to empowering its students’ social mobility and fueling the River Valley’s economic growth through excellent educational opportunities and solid community partnerships. 

Reflecting on the future impact of this strategic plan, UAFS Chancellor Dr. Terisa Riley told the campus community, “This plan, and the implementation initiatives that will soon follow, will usher in an exciting new era at UAFS. We see this plan as the embodiment of our shared ambition to empower students, strengthen our community ties, uphold our culture of integrity, innovation, and inclusivity, and truly shift the boundaries of what’s possible in higher education.”

“To achieve this aspect of our mission, our university must not only be committed to offering our students exceptional educational opportunities that lead to those positive career outcomes but also to support those students on every step of their educational journey from the moment they walk onto our campus until they walk across our stage at graduation so they will be prepared to take full advantage of the career pathways now open to them,” said Dr. Shadow Robinson, UAFS Provost.

“We have always known that this is who UAFS is on its best days. … (Now) we are boldly stating that this is who UAFS intends to be every day, for every student on our campus, and for every member of the community who calls the River Valley home,” Robinson said. 

The development of the new strategic plan began in June 2022, when UAFS started to work with MGT Consulting, a global firm specializing in strategic planning. MGT thoroughly analyzed the university’s place in higher education and in national and regional communities. It gathered and analyzed crucial institutional data and evaluated opportunities, challenges, and threats. 

Throughout the partnership, MGT conducted focus groups, interviews, and surveys that led to the articulation of four pillars to support the strategic plan. 

These pillars are Student Access, Engagement, and Success, which aims to empower students to grow, lead, and succeed; Teaching and Learning, which aims to cultivate exceptional learning experiences and promote excellence within the UAFS community; Economic Development, Community Engagement, and Industry Partnerships, which aims to drive transformational regional change by forging strong and innovative partnerships in the River Valley and beyond; and Institutional Sustainability and Resource Stewardship, which aims at securing the institution’s long-term stability through responsible practices and policies.

Through the strategic plan, the university commits to upholding its promises to students and to the community, demonstrating integrity, innovation, and value. 

In the coming months, each UAFS department will develop detailed implementation plans to support the university’s values and goals. Following approval of these plans, department and divisional leaders will submit annual reports detailing their progress, all of which will be shared openly - advancing institutional transparency and accountability.

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

  • Director of Strategic Communications
  • 479-788-7132
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