FROM ACHIEVEMENT TO RECOGNITION:
A Strategic Work Plan for the University of Florida
March 8, 2007
The University of Florida is a public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university,
one of the most comprehensive in the United States. The university encompasses virtually all
academic and professional disciplines. It is the largest and oldest of Florida's eleven
universities, a member of the Association of American Universities, and has high national
rankings by academic assessment institutions. Its faculty and staff are dedicated to the common
pursuit of the university's threefold mission: teaching, research, and service.
The University of Florida belongs to a tradition of great universities. Together with its
undergraduate and graduate students, University of Florida faculty participate in an educational
process that links the history of Western Europe with the traditions and cultures of all societies,
explores the physical and biological universes, and nurtures generations of young people from
diverse backgrounds to address the needs of the world's societies. The university welcomes the
full exploration of its intellectual boundaries and supports its faculty and students in the creation
of new knowledge and the pursuit of new ideas.
Teaching is a fundamental purpose of this university at both the undergraduate and graduate
levels. Research and scholarship are integral to the educational process and to the expansion of
our understanding of the natural world, the intellect, and the senses. Service reflects the
university's obligation to share the benefits of its research and knowledge for the public good.
The university serves the nation's and the state's critical needs by contributing to a well-qualified
and broadly diverse citizenry, leadership, and workforce. The University of Florida must create
the broadly diverse environment necessary to foster multi-cultural skills and perspectives in its
teaching and research for its students to contribute and succeed in the world of the 21st century.
These three interlocking elements span all the university's academic disciplines and represent the
university's commitment to lead and serve the State of Florida, the nation, and the world by
pursuing and disseminating new knowledge while building upon the experiences of the past.
The University aspires to advance by strengthening the human condition and improving the
quality of life.
Goals and Principles of the Work Plan
The University of Florida aspires to join the ranks of the nation's top public research universities.
The best universities are aided by careful planning, a commitment to excellence by faculty, staff,
students, alumni, and donors, and by a determination to invest in areas that enhance quality. It is
this commitment to academic excellence and the resulting achievements that will lead to the
university's recognition as one of the top public research universities. This work plan is
formulated to help the university attain this goal.
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This work plan is developed in the light of two principles.
The first principle is that strategic planning represents the highest level of planning in pursuit of
the university's long-range goals. Its purpose is to identify the fundamentals that are essential for
achieving the overarching goals of the university and to identify areas for investment, in light of
the university's current position, the research environment, and social and academic
considerations. This plan concentrates on goals and areas of investment rather than on details of
how to achieve them, implementation strategies, or where the resources needed are to be sought.
These additional levels of planning must be undertaken in the light of the more general statement
of goals in this plan.
The second principle is that strategic planning is a dynamic process and it must be sensitive to
new opportunities, to changes in resources and conditions, and to new information. The work
plan is therefore to be conceived as a living document that is re-evaluated and refocused
periodically in the light of accomplishments and new opportunities.
It is essential that faculty be part of this process because they see change at the discipline-level
before others. Administrators, in turn, are responsible for attending to relevant changes in policy
at the state and national level, new developments on the frontiers of science, and other social,
academic, and cultural developments relevant to the university's mission. This requires
communication and transparency between faculty and administration in order for the University
of Florida to move quickly in response to change.
It is critical that the University of Florida optimize allocation of its resources in those areas that
promise the greatest returns in enhancing the university's recognition, in meeting its measured
indicators of success and the needs of students and faculty, and in addressing state priorities.
However, it is equally critical that all components of the university contribute to the university's
pursuit of excellence. The ultimate goal of the university is excellence in every facet of its work,
and while recognizing the importance of setting priorities, a part of the strategy of identifying
promising areas of investment is not to let other areas fall into neglector to suggest that support
of other projects and areas are not also essential. No plan formulated at this level of abstraction
could encompass all of the on-going projects and goals of colleges and units that deserve support.
In particular, the areas of investment identified below under the heading of 'Strategies for
Maximum Impact' should not be conceived of as being proposed in place of, but rather in the
context of, the traditional goals of Academe.
The current work plan is a successor to the University of Florida's 2002 Strategic Plan. Though
there are many continuities with the previous plan, in line with the conception of strategic
planning as a dynamic process, this plan evaluates and refocuses the university's strategic
planning, with input from the faculty through the Faculty Senate.
The human capital of the university consists of its faculty, students, and staff. To achieve the
university's mission, it is critical to create a broadly diverse student body, faculty, and campus
community where students can learn and faculty members can teach and pursue research in many
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settings and from many perspectives. The concept of "broadly diverse" includes talent,
experience and perspective, geographic and socio-economic background, as well as culture, race
and ethnicity, gender, and many other attributes. A diverse campus environment enables
students to learn better and to acquire the multi-cultural skills needed to live and work
productively in an increasingly diverse and global world. A diverse faculty supports
collaborative and creative research that identifies and meets these needs. As the world has
become increasingly global, industry and the workplace have depended on higher education and
academic research to provide a more diverse workforce to develop and market ideas and
products and to identify the needs of its changing societies and cultures.
The first priority of the University of Florida is investment in its faculty. The university's success
begins with the success of individual faculty members and teams of faculty. Department and
college recognition, as well as the university's reputation, rest on these successes. The University
of Florida will advance its status among the public universities of this nation only as the quality,
size, and research productivity of the faculty grow.
The keys to reaching these goals are: (i) full engagement of the faculty in the enterprise of the
university; (ii) effective recruitment and retention of the best faculty; (iii) support for
professional development to ensure the greatest return on faculty investment.
Shared governance, in which faculty and administration participate in significant decisions about
the operation of the institution, is the hallmark of the American university system.1 The shared
governance system is a bulwark of academic freedom and of the process of free inquiry, open
expression, dissent, and discovery that have given the American university system its
international prominence. The shared governance system is founded on the recognition that
university faculty, by virtue of their disciplinary expertise, are in the best position to make
decisions about curricular, instructional, academic personnel, and research policy; that decisions
about academic policy should be independent of short term or political considerations; and that
the perspective of faculty members is essential for making sound decisions about allocating
resources, setting goals, choosing administrators, and promoting an environment for students
most conducive to the university's educational mission. Shared governance invests the faculty in
the university, ensures the engagement of an enormous pool of talent, creativity, and institutional
memory in the pursuit of the university's goals, and increases productivity at every level. In the
words of Robert Maynard Hutchins, one of the twentieth century's great university presidents,
"we get the best results in education and research if we leave their management to people who
know something about them."2
1 A description of the framework for shared governance as articulated in the 1996AAUP statement is available at
2 Higher Learning in America, New Have: Yale University Press, 1936, p. 21.
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The university's success in the future will depend on the ability of faculty members to formulate
a vision for their units and to initiate strategies to realize unit goals. Shared faculty governance at
the University of Florida has undergone a renaissance in recent years, and is expressed through
the structures of the Faculty Senate and their further articulation in colleges and departments.
Through these structures, faculty members participate in setting important academic policy
directions for the institution. It must be a central goal of the university to nurture and expand the
university's shared governance structure and to develop a deeply engaged culture of mutual
respect and trust between faculty and administrators in the goal of bringing the university into
the top ten of public AAU institutions. As a part of this process, the Faculty Senate-Presidential
Task Force on the Implementation of Shared Governance Structure has recently completed its
report on best practices and recommended principles for shared governance.3
Goal: Ensure the continued development of shared faculty governance at the University of
Florida and its integration into all aspects of academic life at college and department levels, in
accordance with the recommendations of the Faculty Senate-Presidential Task Force on
Implementation of Shared Governance Structure.
The University of Florida's student-faculty ratio, 21/1, places it third from last out of 120
institutions surveyed, according to the figures provided by US News and World Report (March
2007). This compares unfavorably with peer public AAU universities. The University of
Wisconsin at Madison and Ohio State University have a ratio of 13/1. The Universities of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, Illinois at Urbana, Michigan at Ann Arbor, California at Berkeley and
Virginia at Charlottesville range from 14/1 to 15/1, and Texas at Austin is 18/1. Growth in the
faculty is crucial to the University of Florida achieving its goals for four reasons.
First, the student-faculty ratio is a rough indicator of the resources put into the university's
educational mission. Opportunities for students to work more closely with faculty and to receive
mentoring by faculty are restricted by the university's high student-faculty ratio. To provide
students an education competitive with that provided by the best public universities in the
country, comparable resources must be put into their education.
Second, faculty size is connected with the research productivity of the University of Florida in
several ways: (i) More research is done by more faculty members; (ii) A critical mass of faculty
working in related areas is needed for many research projects and increases the research
productivity of faculty over what they could achieve individually; and (iii) The higher the
student-faculty ratio, the more time faculty must spend in their roles as instructors as opposed to
pursuing research and publication. While any university must balance teaching and research, it is
clear that the University of Florida's aspiration to be among the top ten public AAU universities
is hampered by its relatively high student-faculty ratio.
3 The final report of the Faculty Senate-Presidential Task Force on the Implementation of Shared Governance
Structure is available at hilp ',. '. .senate.ufl.edu/archives/other/finalReport.pdf.
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Third, faculty size is important for the success of interdisciplinary initiatives. Interdisciplinary
research can be successful only if it can draw on strong disciplinary faculties. To the extent the
University of Florida's core disciplines are weak relative to peers, the University of Florida will
be at a competitive disadvantage with respect to developing and pursuing interdisciplinary
Fourth, increasing faculty size is crucial for the University of Florida's goal of increasing the
strength of its graduate programs and the numbers of Ph.D. students that it trains. Graduate
student mentoring is labor intensive, and hence, an increase in the number of graduate students
trained must be accompanied by an increase in faculty to train them.
Goal: Design and implement a program for increasing the number of faculty to achieve parity
with top ten public AAU universities in those departments and colleges most critical for the
University of Florida's core mission and academic reputation.
At the same time the university aims to increase the size of the faculty, it must also aim to
increase the diversity of the faculty to provide the best teaching and research. The University of
Florida's faculty members must represent excellent scholarship and teaching, reflect a variety of
life experiences and perspectives, and have the ability to foster multi-cultural skills and the
appreciation of diversity in the university community through their research, teaching, and
The university's student body and faculty reflect many aspects of broad diversity, but the racial
and gender aspects of such diversity have proven more difficult to achieve and are not yet
adequate. Substantial improvements must be made to achieve the racial and gender aspects of
the broad diversity needed in the faculty ranks.
Goal: Develop and implement a systematic strategy to improve the racial and gender aspects of
broad faculty diversity that the University of Florida needs to achieve its educational mission.
Salaries and Benefits
The best faculty can be recruited and retained only if the University of Florida offers competitive
salaries and benefits.
Current salaries at the University of Florida rank in the bottom quartile among AAU public
universities and only around the median when adjusted for cost-of-living. The University of
Florida's fringe benefits package also ranks just below the median for AAU public universities.
These circumstances must improve to ensure success in recruitment and retention of talented
faculty. The university has begun this improvement through the Salary Performance Plan for
Professors and through internal salary enhancement initiatives. The past three years have seen
4%-5% merit salary programs.
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Goal: Raise faculty salaries to the mean of the top ten public AAU universities. Improve the
University of Florida's fringe benefit package so that it is commensurate with those of top ten
public AAU universities.
Quality of Life
The quality of life at the university and in Gainesville and the surrounding communities is also
essential for effective recruitment and retention of faculty.
Faculty members express keen interest in how the university addresses their concerns about
quality of life issues, and in particular, to what degree the University of Florida fosters a family-
friendly environment. These issues arise in connection with child-care, employment of a spouse,
and partner benefits, among others. The faculty survey has identified numerous issues that
should be addressed involving the University of Florida policies related to climate. These results
identify specific areas in need of attention.
Goal: Align the University of Florida's policies concerning quality of life issues with those at top
ten public AAU universities. Improve the overall climate for faculty, with special attention to
issues identified in the faculty survey.
It is also essential to recognize the importance of the City of Gainesville and surrounding
counties to the future of the University of Florida. A vibrant, sustainable community with good
schools, transportation, and public safety will help attract and retain the best faculty. The
university must work with the community across many dimensions to promote its development
as a good place to live.
Goal: Work with the surrounding community and the City of Gainesville to improve the quality
of life in the community and ensure a vibrant, sustainable environment in which to live and work.
The university must not only hire the best faculty, it must foster an environment in which they
can achieve their full potential in the academy as teachers, researchers, and leaders. This is
important not only because it will help to realize the greatest return on the university's
investment in faculty, but also because it is a crucial component in retaining its best faculty and
in recruiting the best new faculty.
Junior faculty must be supported in developing productive research programs and in achieving
professional recognition for their work, as well as in developing their leadership and teaching
skills. As they develop and establish a record of achievement, junior faculty need appropriate
guidance to realize the goals set by departments, colleges, and the university. The Faculty Senate
has recommended policies for mentoring junior faculty and for a mid-term review to assist them
as they move toward the tenure evaluation process.
The most important decisions made about faculty are those having to do with promotion and
tenure: they are the principle means by which the quality of the institution is maintained and
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developed. Before awarding tenure, the university must be convinced that the faculty member
will be a productive scholar, teacher, and leader for the long term. Faculty members should have
an appropriate period of time to establish a record of achievements that reasonably predicts their
success. The Faculty Senate has reviewed the university's promotion and tenure policies and has
made a series of recommendations for their revision.
Goal: Implement at department and college levels the Faculty Senate recommendations on
tenure, promotion, mid-term review, and mentoring.
Senior faculty must be encouraged to continue their development as teachers and graduate
student mentors, and also to continue their professional development, through a competitive
sabbatical program. The university's sabbatical program is not competitive with the best public
universities either in number or levels of support. This has two negative results. First, an equally
talented faculty will produce less research, fewer books, fewer interdisciplinary initiatives, and
gain over the course of their careers less recognition than at a university with a better research
leave program. Second, it puts the university at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting both at
the junior and senior levels, and in retaining faculty recruited by universities with better research
Goal: Increase the number of opportunities for sabbaticals and levels of support to align more
closely with sabbatical programs at top ten public AAU universities.
In addition, the University of Florida must assist faculty members in obtaining national and
international recognition and membership in national and international academies. The
University of Florida is proud to have a number of faculty members holding such membership,
but not all the University of Florida faculty worthy of these honors have been recognized to date.
Both faculty and administrators should highlight exceptional work of colleagues in meetings and
publications and should nominate them for appropriate awards and recognition.
The university has created several internal awards and titles that recognize outstanding
achievements. These include the title of Distinguished Professor, the Academy of Distinguished
Teaching Scholars, the University of Florida Research Professor awards, Teacher of the Year
awards, Doctoral Mentoring awards, and the Teacher-Scholar of the Year award.
Through the University of Florida Foundation, the university has initiated a $150 million
campaign to enhance the scholarly environment further and foster the creative work of the
faculty. This Faculty Challenge campaign will help to provide endowed chairs, research funds,
graduate student support, and modern teaching technologies to enable faculty to produce leading
research and to prepare the next generation of the nation's leaders.
Goal: Develop strategies to recognize and reward, internally and externally, the University of
Florida faculty who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, including strategies to increase
faculty membership in national and international academies.
Goal: Complete the $150 million Faculty Challenge Campaign.
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Postdoctoral Fellows and Associates
Postdoctoral Fellows and Associates are significant contributors to research and teaching and
play a critical role in the university. In order to compete nationally and internationally for the
best possible candidates, postdoctoral fellows and associates need to be provided with
competitive salaries, benefits, office space, professional development opportunities, and other
Goal: Provide Postdoctoral Fellows and Associates with salaries, benefits, office space,
professional development opportunities, and other support services commensurate with those at
top ten public AAU universities.
Students represent a major component of the human capital within the university. Measures of
the university's excellence must include the quality and academic success of its undergraduate,
graduate, and professional students. The university has attracted an increasingly outstanding
caliber of students poised to become significant contributors to the state, the nation, and the
world. In order to continue in this direction and to be competitive with AAU top ten public
institutions, some changes must occur.
For the university to achieve its mission to provide an unparalleled experience where the very
best create and share knowledge, the student body must be further diversified. The University of
Florida has achieved many aspects of broad diversity in its undergraduate and graduate student
bodies, but needs to attain greater socio-economic and racial diversity to achieve its educational
mission. The university has made real progress in increasing racial diversity, ranking seventh
nationally in the number of African-American and Hispanic students who have received Ph.D.s
in the last six years and fourth in the number of National Achievement Scholars enrolling.
However, racial minorities are still not well represented and do not meet the university's
educational and service needs. Although women students are well represented in the student
body, they are not well represented in engineering and science. Increased cultural, ethnic, racial,
gender, and socioeconomic diversity in the University of Florida's student body will enrich the
educational experience of all students, and better prepare them for life after graduation, in terms
of leadership and workforce needs of the state and the nation. In reaching this goal, the
university must strive for fair access to educational opportunity for those from all sectors of the
Goal: Increase the cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, and socioeconomic diversity of the student
body to achieve the broad student diversity needed to achieve the University of Florida's
Co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, as well as accessible, high-quality student support
services are important to maximizing student development. They complement and enrich the
academic curriculum, foster critical thinking, and promote wellness. These factors positively
contribute to student engagement and enhance the quality of life. They support recruitment and
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retention of a diverse student body. Furthermore, they provide opportunities for students to
develop multicultural competencies, responsible citizenship, and leadership skills.
Goal: Provide a wide range of excellent co-curricular/extra-curricular activities and student
services to maximize students' development as outstanding scholars, leaders, and citizens in the
State of Florida, the nation, and the global community.
Due to its physical limitations, the Gainesville campus of the university can accommodate only a
limited number of students. However, the university has an obligation to the state's citizens to
provide as much access as possible to educational opportunities. The university has begun to
meet that obligation in recent years through development of distance education programs. Using
innovative blends of technology and courses conducted by faculty at sites around the state and
the nation, the University of Florida is making several undergraduate, graduate, and professional
education programs available to people in or near their homes.
Goal: Continue to develop strategies to expand student access to educational programs through
The quality of the University of Florida's undergraduate student body compares favorably to that
of any university in the nation. The university's students are exceptionally high achievers and
will graduate from the university to become the next generation of leaders. The university is
committed to maintaining the quality of its undergraduate student body and to providing them an
outstanding undergraduate education comparable with the best public universities in the country.
Graduation rates are one measure of the university's success in meeting its commitments to
students. Four and six-year graduation rates place the University of Florida among some of the
best public universities in the nation. The quality of the student body is a major contributor to the
university's exemplary graduation rate, but effective university academic policies and procedures
also help students to remain on track and graduate in a timely fashion. Among the factors that are
important for good graduation rates are: (i) matching students to majors that fit their interests and
talents: (ii) ensuring that courses needed for their degree programs are available frequently
enough or with enough seats for them to get the courses they need to stay on track to graduate in
a timely manner: and (iii) developing procedures and policies that promote student's making
timely progress toward their degree goals.
Goal: Continue to improve the academic quality of undergraduate students and develop
strategies to improve the graduation rates incrementally while maintaining academic integrity of
degree programs and providing students the flexibility to find a major that is the best fit for their
interests and talents.
The very best students in the state deserve the very best educational opportunities and programs.
The university offers several signature programs including the Honors Program and the
University Scholars Program, but there are areas in which improvements can be made. Class
sizes should be lowered in areas where a lower student/instructor ratio is especially important for
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achieving the goals of the course. The number of undergraduate advisors should be increased to
improve the advisor/student ratio. Undergraduate research opportunities should be expanded.
Students should have access to the latest technology. At the same time, students should be
expected to demonstrate excellence in written expression. Faculty in every major should make
sure that all students take some courses in which there is substantive discussion and in which
they have an opportunity to develop analytical, critical thinking, and research skills. The
university should also provide greater access to high-quality tutoring and course assistance.
Goal: Lower class sizes in areas where large class sizes are especially detrimental to the
pedagogical goals of those classes, improve the advisor/student ratio, provide students with
opportunities to develop research and writing skills, and enhance academic support for students.
One of the factors that influences graduation rates is the ability of students to muster the financial
resources needed to follow a full-time course of study. Financial need can also affect the
diversity of the student body by limiting access. The University of Florida must ensure that
financial need does not impede the ability of the state's talented students to attend and graduate
in a timely manner.
Goal: Provide financial aid sufficient to meet the needs of students.
Graduate and Professional Students
The university's recognition and success depend heavily on the quality of its graduate programs.
Graduate and professional students represent the next generation of scholars, practitioners, and
entrepreneurs who will advance the frontiers of knowledge, develop new technologies, help
promote economic growth, and provide vital services to this state, nation, and the world. Faculty
members mentor them as they make the transition from students to colleagues. In return, they
stimulate and assist faculty in research projects. They will play a large role in determining the
university's recognition as they move into the upper echelons of their fields.
The relative size of the University of Florida graduate program ranks below the relative size of
graduate programs in the top universities around the nation as a proportion of the total campus
student population. Several years ago, the university began to increase the graduate student
population on campus, while limiting growth in the undergraduate population. As the University
of Florida research program expands and deepens, the size and quality of the graduate program
must keep pace. The goal is to respond to state, regional, and national needs in the professions
and to increase the overall quality of all graduate programs.
Goal: As appropriate, increase the size and quality of graduate and professional programs to
align with top ten AAU public institutions while addressing state, regional, and national needs.
There is intense national and international competition to recruit the best prospects for each
graduate program. From the student applicant's point of view, the recognition of the university,
the college, the department, and, often most importantly, one or more faculty members, are of
paramount importance. Other criteria then enter the decision to choose a school. These may
include the general academic atmosphere, support services, the physical plant and facilities, and
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the location of the school. A comparison of stipends and benefits is often a deciding factor, and
in this area, the University of Florida lags behind its AAU counterparts. The Alumni Fellowship
program is nationally competitive, but barely so. An increase in the number of dissertation
fellowships is needed in areas where such support is lacking.
Goal: Improve graduate assistant stipends and Alumni Fellow stipends, increase dissertation
fellowships, and provide competitive benefits for graduate assistants and fellows.
Deans, department chairs, and faculty must pay serious attention to graduate student recruitment,
mentoring, retention, and placement. Because students often choose a graduate school based on
areas of excellence in a department and even on the specialties of individual faculty members,
success in recruiting depends largely on the motivation, enthusiasm, and personal contact of
faculty in the units. Post-9/11 policies and mounting competition from universities abroad have
increased the need for careful attention to international recruits. As graduate students progress
through their academic programs, faculty have a responsibility to include them in the academic
life of the department, to help them develop and refine their teaching skills, and to assist them in
understanding and navigating the professional academic culture. Retention rates and time-to-
degrees that are competitive with our AAU peers are good indicators that these responsibilities
are taken seriously in departments. Program assessment on these dimensions must occur to
ensure maximal student success.
Goal: Review the recruitment, mentoring, professional development practices, retention rates,
and time-to-degree statistics in individual departments and seek appropriate improvement.
Every investment in a graduate student must count. Placement of graduating students reflects on
the university and should be undertaken seriously. A university's recognition is determined in
part by the number of alumni placed in their fields.
Goal: Review department placement records and develop state-of-the-art placement and tracking
services to support placing University of Florida graduates in nationally and internationally
recognized programs, institutions, and other relevant settings.
Staff members provide all manner of services critical to the operation of the university. Without
them, the university would be unable to fulfill its mission. The university has a responsibility to
structure a comfortable and productive environment to help the staff succeed and to grow in their
jobs. In a recent campus-wide survey of the workplace, staff communicated numerous areas that
are working well at the university, including diversity, physical working conditions, and
work/life balance. At the same time, staff expressed concerns regarding compensation,
technology, organizational change, and communication.
Goal: Develop specific initiatives aimed at enhanced recruitment, retention, and development of
staff to be competitive with local, regional, and national markets.
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In recent years, staff employment plans and benefits have been revised to provide new
opportunities. However, in order for the university to be able to continue to attract and retain
quality staff, there must be ongoing and regular review of compensation structure for staff.
Goal: Structure a competitive compensation program that rewards staff performance.
In recent years, staff members have faced formidable challenges from new technology that has
transformed job requirements. In addition, as the university community has confronted natural
disasters, staff members have consistently been called upon to assist before, during, and in the
aftermath of such events. Indeed, many employees designated as essential personnel have been
staff. For staff to meet these workplace challenges, it is important to assure access to quality
training workshops and employee support services.
Goal: Design and deliver various training opportunities for staff to advance competencies and
A modern infrastructure with state-of-the-art facilities, adequate research, laboratory, library,
studio, classroom, and office space is necessary for the university to carry out its primary
missions of research, education and service, and attract and retain the best faculty, graduate
students, and postdoctoral fellows and associates.
The university has made significant progress on a number of major building priorities,
specifically, the Cancer and Genetics Research Complex, the Nanoscale Research Facility, the
Pathogens Research Facility, and the Biomedical Sciences Building. (See the discussion below
on the life sciences for how these buildings fit into the university's research initiatives.)
However, many space and facilities needs remain unmet and will become increasingly urgent in
the future. More classroom space is needed, particularly in the northeast quadrant of the
university, and particularly with respect to large lecture rooms. Office space in many units is a
significant constraint on reaching parity with top ten public AAU universities. Cramped quarters
and inadequate office space are a serious obstacle to recruitment and retention of faculty. Many
departments, below strength relative to peer institutions, cannot expand significantly because
there is no space available for additional faculty. Planning for growth in the university's faculty
and programs must go hand-in-hand with planning for adequate space.
Goal: Identify critical space and facilities needs across the university and implement a long-
range plan to resolve them.
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Special attention should be paid to the central libraries because they are the repositories of
research materials for the whole university. Despite the expansion of the Smathers Libraries, the
space available at the main library facilities and at many branch libraries at the University of
Florida compares unfavorably with top ten public AAU institutions. The University of Florida
lags behind peer AAU institutions in library collections, physical amenities, and staffing, as well
as library specialized information services for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. The library
is a partner in the research and IT enterprise (see the next section) and provides a variety of
singularly important primary source and research materials that are of fundamental importance to
the university's educational and research programs. The University of Florida must ensure that
library resources meet the needs of students and faculty as a part of its overall strategy.
Goal: Given the central importance of the libraries to the research and teaching missions of the
university, develop a separate strategic plan specifically devoted to long-range planning to meet
future needs for library resources and facilities and to bring library resources at the University of
Florida in line with top ten public AAU universities.
A state-of-the-art information technology (IT) system must be built to meet the needs of faculty
and students in research and teaching. Information technology has become a core resource in
every institution of higher education in America. It facilitates computation, communication,
information collection, storage, processing and dissemination, and therefore all aspects of
university's enterprise. The University of Florida is a pioneer in several aspects of information
technology. Notable examples include the NSF-sponsored Virtual Data Grid under construction,
applications in the McKnight Brain Institute, and the new initiative in Digital Arts. However, in
some areas, such as general access to IT by students, the University of Florida lags behind its
counterparts. As more technologies converge in IT, the University of Florida must create and
sustain an information technology structure that supports the university's mission and goals. The
renovation of the Hub to a center of student technological and social life is a first step to
providing students with updated IT facilities.
Goal: Review IT needs and develop a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure to support faculty and
students, with emphasis on increasing, from the standpoint of the end-user, the compatibility of
IT units, while maintaining their integrity.
Strategies for Maximum Impact
A number of areas are singled out below for attention in pursuit of the university's goals of
becoming a top ten public research university while meeting its obligations to its students and to
the citizens of Florida. No single strategic plan can pretend to direct all of the disciplinary
activity of faculty and departments. Nor would it be sensible for a group of strategic planners to
attempt to direct faculty efforts to a few centrally-planned projects on which the university pins
its hopes. The following list of areas of investment will help guide some large-scale planning,
but it is not an exhaustive list of areas of investment at the university. Neither is this list in any
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priority order. The strength and success of the American research enterprise depends in large part
on the ability of faculty members to choose their own research programs and to move quickly in
new directions to advance them. Faculty, departments, and colleges must have incentive, drive,
and access to resources to pursue promising new areas. Much of the university administration's
work must be directed to providing an environment that enables them to do this effectively.
Many of the areas listed below are interdisciplinary in nature. An increasing number of emerging
areas of research draw on a wide range of disciplines. It will be critical for success that every
effort be made to empower interdisciplinary research and study at the university and to facilitate
the administration of initiatives that cut across traditional university structures.
Strong interdisciplinary research requires strong contributing disciplines. The natural and
mathematical sciences underpin our understanding of the workings of the natural world at the
most fundamental level. Engineering plays a central role in the translation of basic research into
practical application. The social and policy sciences lay a foundation for sound analysis in the
aid of important decisions in connection with social, economic, public health, and educational
policy issues. It must be part of our conception of the pursuit of these interdisciplinary projects
that they be supported by a strong foundation in the natural, mathematical, social, policy, and
1) The Arts and Humanities
No university can aspire to recognition as one of the country's great public universities without
recognition as a leading center of research and teaching in the arts and humanities. They give the
university its moral weight and have a fundamental role in the university co-ordinate with that of
the basic sciences. The vitality of the arts and the humanities, and their contribution to the
intensity and seriousness of the intellectual life of the university, are crucial to the vitality of the
university as a whole. Studies in the arts and humanities are important components of what it is
to be civilized and educated human beings. They are crucial for achieving the synoptic view of
self and societal enterprises that locate everyone on a larger scale than individual life. They play
a central role in teaching students how to express themselves clearly and effectively and to
engage in extended critical and interpretive thinking.4
The central role of the arts and humanities in the university is reflected in the strength of the arts
and humanities at the best public and private research universities. The University of Michigan at
Ann Arbor and the University of California at Berkeley, both premier public research
universities, have very strong arts and humanities departments, with many graduate departments
ranking in the top ten nationally.
4 Arts and humanities students scored higher on the verbal and analytical writing components of the GRE than any
other group, as reported in the ETS publication 2005-2006 Guide to the Use ofScores, pp. 18-20, during the survey
period from July 2001 to June 2004 (http://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/GRE/pdf/994994.pdf).
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A recent AAU report notes that the humanities nationwide have "suffered from both low
investment and the absence of structures to support effective engagement around issues of
central concern." On the basis of a review of the status of the arts and humanities, the report
recommends that "university presidents and chancellors should make the humanities a major
focus of institutional strategic planning, and should regularly emphasize to the university and the
broader community the fundamental importance of the humanities."5
At the University of Florida, over the last 25 years, growth in the arts and humanities faculties
has not kept pace with growth in the student population, and, while this is true of other segments
of the university as well, the growth in the arts and humanities faculties has lagged behind
growth in the social and natural sciences. In addition, a comparison of department sizes at peer
public AAU institutions such as Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, the
University of North Carolina, and the University of Texas shows that among the arts and
humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences, the arts and humanities departments at
the University of Florida are relatively further behind with respect to their peer departments.6
Even relative then to the general decline in support across the nation for the arts and humanities,
the arts and humanities have suffered from a paucity of investment at the University of Florida.
Goal: Develop faculty resources specifically in the arts and humanities by: (i) providing a
supportive research environment to increase faculty productivity: (ii) recruiting and retaining the
best faculty possible in the arts and humanities: and (iii) developing a plan to build the size of
arts and humanities programs to achieve parity with top ten public AAU institutions.
Goal: Promote the arts and humanities to the university community, the national and
international academic communities, and to the public at the local, state, and national level.
Support outreach programs to the state and local community.
The last fifty years has seen the rise of a truly global community, a trend that will accelerate
rapidly in the next few decades. Increases in global travel, the integration of the world's
economies, the migration of peoples, and the great advances that have been made in the
development of a global information infrastructure have significantly diminished the effective
distance between different cultures and societies. Understanding the world's cultural and
linguistic diversity has consequently become an urgent practical matter. All Floridians and
Americans in the future will be in closer contact with peoples who are not native speakers of
English, who come from different cultural and religious backgrounds, and whose political and
social perspectives differ. The University of Florida has an obligation to develop resources for
understanding different cultures and societies so that the citizenry of the state and nation are
prepared for the increasing integration of the global community; and it must inculcate this
understanding in its students. The University of Florida has embarked on some significant
initiatives to these ends. The university's study abroad programs have provided students with the
5Reinvigorating the Humanities: Enhancing Research and Education on Campus and Beyond, p. iv, available on-
line at: hip ', ', .aau.edu/issues/HumRpt.pdf.
6 See the preliminary report of the Faculty Senate's Arts and Humanities Working Group for relevant data:
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opportunity for the transformative experience of living and studying for extended periods in
other countries. Its scholarly exchange programs provide faculty the opportunities to teach and
conduct research aboard, and bring international scholars to the University of Florida. The
university has been competitive in getting Fulbright awards and a variety of other international
research grants and awards. The university's faculty engages frequently in collaborative research
with scholars from other countries, and carries out research on international issues in medicine,
health, business, law, agriculture, science, language, religion, culture, and art, among others. To
fulfill its obligations, the university needs to continue support for these efforts, develop new
programs to deepen its understanding of the world's cultural diversity, and promote international
research and education.
Goal: Enhance existing and develop new programs to promote international research, teaching,
and study abroad and exchange programs.
Of particular importance for the University of Florida's stature as a center for international
studies are its prestigious Title VI centers. The university has been a national leader in competing
for and winning funding from the United States Department of Education (USDE) through the
Title VI program. The University of Florida has had five such centers, making it a leader among
AAU universities in this regard. Three focus on area studies (the Center for Latin American
Studies, the Center for African Studies, and the Center for European Studies) and two are
thematic (the Center for International Business Education and Research and the Center for
Transnational and Global Studies). All of these centers are nationally ranked. Latin American
Studies is one of the top-ranked centers in the world and is consistently ranked number one or
two nationally. African Studies has been ranked as high as number three nationally. These five
interdisciplinary centers collect faculty from all sixteen of the university's colleges.
Goal: Support Title VI centers in making competitive grant applications to secure extramural
3) Life Sciences
The biological and life sciences form a large component of most top university research
portfolios. Investment in these areas must play an important role in the university's research
programs in the future.
The University of Florida's research agenda in these areas spans a substantial number of
programs across many colleges. In particular, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS),
the College of Engineering (COE), and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS)
partner with the six colleges in the Health Science Center (Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary
Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, and Public Health and Health Professions) and numerous Centers
and Institutes whose missions focus on life sciences research. Given the range of programs
across which research in the life sciences is spread, there is a special need to coordinate research
and teaching programs across administrative unit boundaries.
Goal: Identify where there is fragmentation in research and teaching programs in the biological
sciences at the university and introduce coordinated training in biology as a way of addressing it.
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The University of Florida will be a major player in biology, the life sciences, and biotechnology
by assuming a leadership role in carefully chosen sectors of these fields. To accomplish this, the
university's investment strategy must be part of a coherent plan to share the talents and resources
of the colleges involved in life sciences research and their partners, such as Shands HealthCare
and Scripps Florida, and to focus and coordinate their research efforts.
Goal: Develop a plan to achieve leadership in fields in the life sciences selected to match the
strengths of the University of Florida and its partners by: (i) sharing talents and resources of the
colleges and units involved in life sciences and (ii) focusing and coordinating their research
The McKnight Brain Institute has matured to become a premiere international institution that
integrates efforts across colleges and units to understand and treat the brain and nervous system.
The university is moving rapidly to invest in other new programs and must consider investing in
emerging areas such as bioimaging, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular medicine, regenerative
biology and medicine, and emerging pathogens. The university's first new investment is the rapid
development of the Cancer and Genetics Institute, housed in the new Cancer and Genetics
Research Complex. The second is construction of the Nanoscale Research Facility, which will
play an important role in providing support for the relatively new field of bio-nanoscience. The
third is a new life sciences research facility, the Biomedical Sciences Building, which is the
university's next building priority. The fourth is a new building for research and programs in
Goal: Strengthen the faculty and programs in the areas of cancer and genetics, bio-nanoscience,
life science, and emerging pathogens in conjunction with the completion of the Cancer and
Genetics Research Complex, the Nanoscale Research Facility, the Biomedical Sciences Building,
and the Pathogens Research Facility.
4) Ecology and the Environment
The University of Florida is poised to become an internationally recognized institution for
research and education in ecology and environmental studies. Maintaining its existing strengths
and building on them will enable the University of Florida to make an important contribution to
the research necessary to understand and maintain the health of the world's ecosystems. The
health of the world's ecosystems in turn is crucial to the health and well being of its human
population. Florida, in particular, is home to many fragile ecosystems found nowhere else. These
ecosystems now face an unprecedented threat from climate change and human activities. In this,
Florida is part of a much larger syndrome of global environmental change due to human
activities that threaten the health of ecosystems around the world. The University of Florida can
be a bellwether for studies of ecological and environmental issues for the state of Florida, the
nation, and the world. Climate change, human-environment interactions, and invasive species all
reflect the intertwining of many nations and ecosystems across the globe. The study of
environment change thus has important political, cultural, social, moral, religious, and behavioral
dimensions. Institutional initiatives to foster cutting-edge research in basic and applied
ecological and environmental science must therefore also draw on the humanities and the social
sciences. Many departments and colleges, as well as existing interdisciplinary programs and
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research centers and institutes across the university, contribute to the understanding of ecology
and the environment. These include the School of Natural Resources and Environment, the
Tropical Conservation and Development Program, the new Water Institute, and the Land Use
and Environmental Change Institute, among others. Achieving national and international stature
in this arena requires both maintaining strength in many disciplines and fostering creative
Goal: Create a campus-wide Institute of Ecology and Environment, an integrative and broadly
conceived entity similar to the McKnight Brain Institute, to focus the efforts of the widely
dispersed faculty and coordinate the activities of existing units concerned with environmental
Global environmental change is driven to a significant extent by human energy use, and the two
are inextricably linked. Environmental concerns over the use of fossil fuels and their contribution
to greenhouse gases, national security concerns over the dependence on foreign oil, and a
growing public awareness for the need for a cleaner environment are stimulating the demand for
renewable energy. The development of alternative sources of energy, new energy distribution
systems, and renewable energy programs are essential for the future. The University of Florida
must maintain its commitment to research excellence in these areas. Comprehensive programs
and courses in renewable energy require bridging disciplinary divides and requirements. The
disciplines of ecology, environmental science, biotechnology, forest resources, agronomy, public
health, biology, chemistry, and microbiology all contribute toward an understanding of the
impact of the development of renewable energy on societies and ecosystems. Further, there are
aspects of economics, finance, policy, political science, and law involved in any significant
alternative or renewable energy project, as well as a role for community planning, building
construction, and architecture. The impact of energy technology on the developing world and the
use of appropriate technology draws on many social sciences, including anthropology, sociology,
and international development.
Goal: Continue and strengthen the University of Florida's activities to generate and promote
renewable energy technologies through integrated research, education, and training.
6) Agriculture and its Impact
The importance of agriculture to the state, region, nation, and the world makes it an important
area of research and service. While a number of academic units contribute to this broad initiative,
the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is dedicated to developing knowledge in
agriculture, human, and natural resources and to making that knowledge accessible to sustain and
enhance the quality of human life. It is a central component of the land grant mission of the
University of Florida. IFAS contains the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station, and Florida Cooperative Extension Service. Through a network
of Research and Education Centers and Extension Offices, IFAS has a presence in every county
in the state. Its teaching, research, and extension programs extend into every community in the
state, providing services and expertise for counties, cities, industry, and individual citizens.
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Goal: Strengthen the IFAS statewide network of extension, research, and academic programs to
continue to be relevant and provide science-based solutions to Florida's citizens.
The IFAS research and educational programs focus on agricultural, natural resource, and human
systems. While contributing to the success of Florida's agriculture, IFAS faculty members have
also developed a national and international reputation. As Florida's population grows, new
challenges are posed for the future of agriculture, Florida's natural ecosystems, and the quality of
life of its citizens. Many of these challenges are also echoed globally, and hence Florida is well
positioned to be a leader and a model in the world. The IFAS research and educational programs
must continue to expand to meet new needs and answer new questions. Extramural funding and
faculty productivity must increase to enable IFAS to make these critical contributions of
knowledge to Florida and to the planet.
Goal: Increase extramural funding and scholarly productivity for agricultural research, extension,
and academic programs that span basic discovery, innovation, and application.
7) Nanoscale Science and Technology
The University of Florida has launched a major research initiative in nanoscale science and
technology with the construction of the new Nanoscale Research Facility. The Nanoscale
Research Facility will provide world-class facilities and technical support for University of
Florida faculty and students to pursue multi-disciplinary research and education in the areas of
nanoscale science and technology. Nanoscale science and technology involves understanding the
fundamental properties of atoms and molecules at the nanoscale (one billionth of a meter) and
utilizing this understanding to create new devices and sensors for the communication markets,
new drug delivery systems, and biotechnology innovations, among other new technologies.
Fundamental properties of materials at the nanoscale, such as their chemical reactivity and their
optical, magnetic, and electrical properties, can be significantly different from their properties at
larger scales. Nanoscale technologies aim to exploit these special properties to develop structures,
devices, and systems with novel properties and functions because of their size. Exciting new
materials and applications have already been invented, and the commercial, scientific, and
medical potential of nanoscience is enormous. Given the scientific and technological significance
of nanoscale research, the University of Florida must have a significant investment in this area.
As the Nanoscale Research Facility is completed, the university must develop a plan to
coordinate the participation of faculty and staff across the various disciplines concerned with
nanoscale science and technology. The disciplines concerned include physics, chemistry,
biological sciences, engineering, and medical sciences. Since there are significant questions that
arise about the effect of the development of nanotechnologies on the environment and on human
health, it will be important to develop, in parallel, the ability to assess the impact of
anthropogenic nano-compounds and materials on health and environment. The study of natural
nano-materials will be an important component of understanding the potential affect of
anthropogenic nano-compounds on the environment.
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Goal: Develop a staffing plan and a coordinating plan for the participation of faculty in
nanoscale science and technology research in conjunction with completing construction of the
Nanoscale Research Facility.
Goal: Develop a plan for assessing the impact of anthropogenic nano-compounds and materials
on health and environment, including attention to research on natural nano-materials.
8) Space Science
The University of Florida has made great strides in the space sciences over the last decade. The
Astronomy Department's focus on the development of image-detection devices has led to
increases in funding, telescope time, and significant scholarly achievements. Faculty members in
organic chemistry have made notable discoveries in astrobiology, while faculty members in
physics have participated actively in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory
(LIGO) project. Through the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the
University of Florida is the lead institution on the NASA University Research, Engineering, and
Technology Institute (URETI) for Future Space Transport project to develop the next generation
space shuttle. The University of Florida is therefore well positioned to become a major center of
space science research. The university should continue to support and expand its activities in
space science research, considering areas where it may develop new programs that build on
current strengths. For example, there is currently no state university in Florida that has a
planetary sciences program, and filling this gap is fully within the grasp of the University of
Florida. The Departments of Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Geological Sciences, and
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, as well as the Florida Museum of Natural History, all
have critical roles to play in this project.
Goal: Continue to expand the University of Florida's activity in space science and look for ways
to increase interdisciplinary research and collaboration in this area.
9) Professional Preparation
The University of Florida's professional colleges play an important role in enhancing the
university's recognition and advancing the professional and economic needs of the state and
nation, through their research and educational programs. These colleges include the College of
Agricultural and Life Sciences, the College of Design, Construction and Planning, the College of
Education, the College of Engineering, the College of Health and Human Performance, the six
colleges of the Health Science Center, the College of Journalism and Communications, the Levin
College of Law, and the Warrington College of Business. They contribute to responsible
citizenship, public policy and governance, new technologies and technology transfer and
implementation, economic stability and growth, and public health and education. The scholarship
and academic programs of these colleges provide intellectual support for interdisciplinary
initiatives. Graduates of these colleges have provided important leadership and service to the
state and nation for several generations, and the University of Florida must ensure the successes
of these programs as part of its overall strategy. In all professional programs, the emphasis will
be on achieving or sustaining national recognition to provide Florida residents access to the best
quality professional education.
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Goal: Strengthen the educational and research facets of professional programs and colleges, with
special emphasis on interdisciplinary endeavors, as appropriate.
Of special importance in the information age is the need for information technology
professionals trained in the departments of Computer and Information Science, Engineering,
Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Decision and Information Sciences.
Goal: Review resources available for training information technology professionals and develop
as necessary plans to provide adequate resources to assist the state and the nation to meet their
needs for professionals educated in information technology.
10) Health Professionals and Health Care
The state has focused special attention on its critical shortage of health care professionals. The
university has an obligation to help meet these needs through expanded education and training of
a broad range of health care professionals. The range of health care professionals currently
trained by the university extends well beyond physicians and nurses to include pharmacists,
allied health professionals, and professionals in health policy, health service delivery, counseling,
mental health, rehabilitation, epidemiology, etc. Retention of trained doctors in the state is an
important consideration, and can be accomplished through expanded availability of resident
training programs in the state.
Goal: Assist the state in addressing critical shortages of health care professionals.
Units in the Health Science Center also serve the health needs of Floridians directly by staffing
clinics and hospitals around the state. This is an important outreach service for the public good
that also enhances the university's recognition.
Goal: Maintain and strengthen the system of clinics and hospitals and strengthen the Shands
11) Education, Children, Families
The state and nation need new approaches to learning, from birth through post-secondary
education. The University of Florida will lead in this area by conducting multidisciplinary
research and by developing demonstration programs and outreach to school districts, community
agencies, and other higher education institutions. Special emphasis will be placed on literacy,
pre-K, and high poverty schools. In higher education, efforts are needed in teacher preparation
and in math and science education.
Goal: Assist the state to improve the pre-K to 20 educational system through research,
demonstration programs, outreach with school districts, community agencies, other higher
education institutions, and training more educators and teachers, especially in high need areas.
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The University of Florida will also be a leader in the field of health care for children and families.
Four million children under the age of 18 live in Florida. Approximately 18% live in poverty and
lack health insurance. Nearly one-third of Florida teens are overweight or obese; 10% report
binge drinking, cigarette use, or marijuana use; and 8% are school dropouts. Faculties across
colleges at the University of Florida are working on research, education, and service programs to
address social problems facing children and families and to promote their health and well-being.
Goal: Improve the health and well-being of children and families through research, education,
and service. Promote interdisciplinary approaches to complex health and social problems facing
children and families.
The State of Florida has the largest proportion of persons age 60 years or older in the nation, and
this age group represents the fastest growing segment of the population. There is, therefore, a
special need for the University of Florida to develop programs that address the health and quality
of life of older persons. Expertise in aging is extended across many areas of the university to
improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older adults. The University of Florida
Institute on Aging serves as the major catalyst for developing interdisciplinary models and
synergisms in research, education, and health care across colleges, other institutes, and centers at
the University of Florida and its affiliates. Programs on aging at the University of Florida are
dedicated to developing interdisciplinary, catalytic, and cross-cutting research that emphasizes
translation between social and health services, and the behavioral, clinical, and basic sciences.
Nationally recognized strengths include basic and clinical research of physical and cognitive
decline, prevention and rehabilitation research, research related to nursing care of the elderly,
behavioral and social studies of later life, and outcomes evaluation research. In addition to
coordinating and integrating its diverse expertise in aging-related academics, it is important for
the university to develop educational programs for undergraduate and graduate trainees that
integrate research and health care of older adults, such as geriatric clinical and research training,
geriatric nursing, rehabilitation sciences, neuroscience, and psychosocial programs with strong
aging concentrations. The University of Florida also needs to foster programs of integrated
health care and professions for older adults, with the provision of "one-stop" state-of-the-art
health care for frail, as well as for healthier, older persons. Referral and consultation networks
among geriatric medicine and all the health professions are key components of this integration.
The University of Florida also needs to partner with local and state agencies and Councils of
Aging to coordinate its efforts with the local and larger community dedicated to improving the
lives of older persons.
Goal: Enhance faculty, resources, and interdisciplinary connections between relevant units to
address the social, medical, and legal aspects of aging.
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