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Strategic Planning Challenges

Preparation of the 2013-2018 Strategic Plan began in spring 2011 and continued into fall 2012. Directed by Vice Provost Graham A. Tobin, the 39-member Strategic Planning Committee included representatives from major constituent groups: students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Stakeholders from the broader campus and Tampa Bay communities also contributed to the process.

USF's plan aligns with the State University System of Florida Strategic Plan for 2012-2025, the Florida Board of Governors' annual work plan, and legislative/gubernatorial priorities. Careful attention was paid to (i) maintaining USF's position as a top-tier (RU/VH) research university and a community engaged university as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; (ii) improving performance relative to the Association of American Universities' indices; (iii) increasing USF's national ranking based upon the National Science Foundation's assessment of total and federal research expenditures; (iv) improving the number and quality of graduate programs ranked by the National Research Council; and (v) enhancing USF's position in the Top American Research Universities annual report.

USF's bold vision requires strategic investment and predictable funding. However, the dramatic shift in public higher education funding in Florida makes specific budget projections difficult. Consequently, the planning process assumed that: (i) state appropriations would either decline or remain stable; (ii) USF would have authority to increase tuition rates to meet requirements; (iii) state legislation would allow pledging of tuition to support capital needs; (iv) the USF Foundation would meet its goals for increased giving; (v) USF's Direct Service Organizations and auxiliary operations would generate incremental margins for reinvestment; and (vi) USF would achieve savings through budget re-engineering.

In addition, the landscape of higher education in Florida is changing as state colleges and private institutions now compete with for-profit providers for students. Thus, risks remain high. There persists considerable economic uncertainty regarding support for higher education at both federal and statewide levels. This plan helps position the university to manage effectively these challenges.