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UofL initiative exploring strengths, challenges

By Janene Zaccone
UofL Communications and Marketing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Jan. 21, 2013) — Respondents to an analysis of UofL’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) indicated that one of the university’s biggest strengths is its people.

Consultant Scott Nostaja reported on the SWOT analysis at the first of two open campus forums to provide updates about and get input for the 21st Century University Initiative at the University of Louisville. Another open forum is scheduled for Kornhauser Library auditorium at the Health Sciences Center Thursday, Jan. 31, at 9 a.m.

Nostaja, from the company Excelcor, had met with several campus groups representing faculty, staff and students to gather their perspectives. A SWOT analysis also was online for faculty, staff, students and external stakeholders. All totaled, 650 people completed a SWOT analysis.

The analysis was the first step in an initiative to explore options to keep UofL moving forward given the changing fiscal, legislative and public opinion environments that higher education as a whole faces, said President James Ramsey.

Excelcor received more than 5,000 comments, Nostaja said. He summarized some of the common responses as:

– There is a high level of pride in UofL.

– The future of online education is perhaps the most polarizing topic on campus.

– There are significant cultural differences and a divide between Belknap Campus and the Health Sciences Center. They are two different worlds.

– Everyone feels resource-constrained, and people are overwhelmed despite the great progress UofL has made since the passage of the Higher Education Reform Act in 1997.

– There is a widespread belief that UofL’s opportunities outweigh its threats.

Nostaja also reported some of the results by SWOT category. Respondents listed UofL’s faculty, staff and students as being one of its greatest strengths. They also cited weaknesses such as lack of financial resources, low morale and decentralization; opportunities of community engagement and economic development; and threats of the continuing erosion of financial resources and local, state and national economies.

Provost Shirley Willihnganz is heading the 21st Century Initiative at Ramsey’s request. She is forming four committees to further review the SWOT results and to bring recommendations to administration on how to keep UofL moving forward.

“This is a process of exploration, not strategic planning,” she said. The administration hopes to take the recommendations to the Board of Trustees at its annual summer retreat.

Besides presenting an update on the initiatives, Willihnganz and Ramsey asked forum attendees for input on the initiative’s process.