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October 27, 1994


The University in the 21st Century:

The Long-Range Plan I wish today to report to you a significant milestone in the life of our University as we enter a new era. After more than a year of intense discussions involving faculty, administrators, staff, and students, we have completed the first phase of our long-range plan to prepare the University to ascend to a higher level of academic excellence and ethical purpose. This planning document –TOWARD THE 21ST CENTURY – Mission, Goals, Strategies, and Evaluation — was presented to and accepted by the Board of Trustees at its fall meeting on Oct. 21. I have asked that the document be distributed to all faculty and staff, and I encourage you to read it and reflect upon its contents.

The plan is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of our University, building upon its remarkable 207 years of history. Moreover, it explicates specific benchmarks that will determine our progress and our ultimate success. It is significant that this plan will unfold at a time when higher education throughout America faces unprecedented challenges: a shrinking college-age population; rising tuition and fees; a continuing need for more sophisticated technologies; competing demands from other sectors for increased support from state and federal governments; achieving diversity; and ensuring greater fiscal accountability and sound management.

There will be a continuing refinement of the document as we go forward with this collegial process. I believe the governing principles that underlie the plan, as well as the plan's articulated goals and strategies, not only will allow us to meet the challenges noted above, but also will take us beyond them. We now must seize a unique opportunity to creatively shape our own future based upon our vision of education for the 21st century. As we do so, we will clarify and strengthen the teaching, research and public service roles we seek to carve out for the University of Pittsburgh.

As you think about and discuss how the various strategies will impact upon the diverse units of the University, it is important to keep the focus clear. This document is, at its core, an academic plan that positions us among the top tier of public AAU institutions on measures of instructional quality, research productivity, and quality of student life–the hallmarks of a great university. As we allocate and direct our resources to achieve the level of excellence to which we aspire, we must make difficult decisions. Some of these decisions may be arduous, but all will be collegial, consensual, and made in a spirit that best advances the long-term good of the University.

With this first phase of our planning process now completed, the University is embarking on an exciting era of change and innovation perhaps unparalleled in the history of our institution. As we enter the next millennium, I am confident that we will enlarge and strengthen our responsibility and commitment to more powerfully serve the region, the nation, and the world.

J. Dennis O'Connor


Filed under: Feature,Volume 27 Issue 5

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