Chancellor Paul Beran presents the university's five-year strategic plan March 3.
Dr. Paul B. Beran, chancellor of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, unveiled the university’s five-year strategic plan at the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday Breakfast March 3, setting the direction of the university to further serve the needs of the greater Fort Smith region from 2017-2022.
The plan reflects the university’s efforts to adapt to numerous “emerging realities” – a fluid higher education landscape, rapid technological advances that create ever-changing job needs of local industries, and the need for diversified revenue streams to ensure adequate resources for university initiatives.
Speaking to the gathered crowd, Beran stressed that for regional public universities like UAFS to succeed in this environment, they must shift away from the previous mindset of wanting “to be a mini-flagship [university].”
“So if UA – Fayetteville did something, we did it too, just a little bit smaller,” Beran said. “This is not going to work for regional state universities anymore. Our connection to the community, our connection to all of those sitting here in this room today – it’s about putting people to work. It’s about helping students find a place in our city, our region, and our state.”
Beran also emphasized the need for creative thought and critical thinking, alluding to a statistic that Generation Z – referring to students born between the mid-‘90s and early 2000s – will change careers six times during their life.
In an effort to further promote workforce development, the plan has set forth a new vision for the university: to become “a national model for workforce mobility through education while serving as the thought leader in the region for workforce training.” The plan also aims at an increase in enrollment, retention and graduation rates of UAFS students and expanded master’s degree offerings in the next five years.
In the presentation, Beran outlined the university’s four strategic initiatives for the next half-decade: “Increase the enrollment, retention and graduation rates of UAFS students;” “Provide an innovative and holistic educational experience for students with a focus on academic opportunities supporting economic growth and development;” “Increase workplace productivity, collaboration and innovation by fostering and championing professional growth and development for university faculty and staff;” and “Strategically align resources to support university objectives.”
“We are going to be all about maximizing student success and graduation. The community needs graduates. Those of you in business and industry need trained, educated people no matter what it is,” Beran said.
He noted the accomplishments of the university as one of the leading universities for workforce development in the state, adding that, “We’re going to keep doing that, but we’re going to do it better and more efficiently.”
In closing, Beran reiterated the university’s commitment to improving the Fort Smith region.
“UAFS is committed to being a lynchpin in uniting education and high-level training for citizens of our area, from high school students in career pathways to returning adults requiring the skills to be successful in the workplace,” Beran said. “We look forward to working with all the constituents of this workplace-focused movement. We’re here to serve you. We’re here to serve the city, the state. We aspire to serve the nation.”
To view the plan, visit http://issuu.com/ua_fort_smith/docs/uafs_strategic_plan.
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Through a small campus, dedicated professors, and the university’s unique bond with its community, students at UAFS are able to do more in the areas they are passionate about, both on- and off-campus, in a way that prepares them for post-graduate success. To find out how you can do more at UAFS, visit www.uafs.edu.