Strategic Planning - 2018 Progress


Strategic Planning


About the Strategic Plan 

Arkansas Tech University's continuous improvement in the name of student success is guided by our strategic plan. This plan was developed through a faculty-led process over a span of 12 months, culminating in the adoption of the plan by the ATU Board of Trustees in May 2016. From that moment forward, the people of Arkansas Tech have been engaged in a wide variety of initiatives designed to support the goals of the strategic plan.

The intended life span of a strategic plan is 5-to-7 years, but the realization of our strategic planning goals is much more of a journey than a destination. For that reason, it is important that we track and measure our progress throughout the implementation of the plan to ensure that we are on track.

Our strategic planning website is where we will post updates as they become available. I encourage members of the university community to visit the site on a regular basis so that we may provide recognition of success when appropriate and identify areas that require additional attention and support when needed.

Thank you for your continued participation in the implementation of our strategic plan. Together, we will ensure that every student counts at ATU.

Dr. Robin E. Bowen



Goal: Using the national graduation rate average as the benchmark, achieve a minimum annual increase of the graduation rate of one percentage point per year (while maintaining prior enrollment).


  • Increased fall to fall retention rate by 2.49% overall for fall 2017 (2.73% on Russellville campus and 1.97% on the Ozark campus) - increasing retention rate is essential to increasing the graduation rate.
    • While retention increased, the university had an overall 0.54% decrease in enrollment (64 students) in enrollment.
  • Awarded 411 Associate degrees to students from the 2014 cohort who had earned an Associate degree, but had not completed a Bachelor degree – providing a stackable credential to students.
  • Improved online admission application to be more appealing and user friendly to prospective students, representing One University – enrollment is the first step to increasing graduation rates.


Goal: Establish and achieve employee compensation target using the median of the CUPA regional comparison or appropriate comparison data.


  • The faculty and non-classified staff FY17 salaries on the Russellville campus reached 94% of the CUPA regional comparison compensation target compared to 92.2% for FY2016, a 1.8% increase. Ozark campus faculty and non-classified staff FY17 salaries reached 94.18% of the CUPA regional comparison compensation target compared to 92.35% for FY 2016, a 1.83% increase.


Goal: Develop staffing level policies and plans for both faculty and staff. 


  • University divisions have begun working on their staffing plan (e.g. new positions needed, positions that can be absorbed, etc.)


Goal: Implement any nonadditive adjustments as soon as reasonably possible and make any additive adjustments required as resources become available.


  • Increased full-time faculty positions by 11, reducing student to faculty ratio to 18.6 to 1 for fall 2016 (from 19.3 to 1 in fall 2015) – smaller class sizes support retention and therefore graduation.
  • Reduced 11 staff positions in Administration and Finance per a new staffing plan. 


Goal: Enhance the University's administrative research and planning capabilities, including the ability to generate, analyze, and communicate the import of data in support of student recruitment, enrollment, retention, and completion.


  • Converted a 40% position to a 75% position in Institutional Research to increase the capacity of the office.
  • Implemented an accountability matrix with faculty to monitor trends and measure progress for defined departmental metrics.
  • Enrollment funnel widely published to Deans and Department Heads to better organize and communicate enrollment data.
  • Introduced CRM ADVISE and facilitated increased utilization of DegreeWorks and integration across software platforms supporting various facets of the student experience.
  • Utilized Data Analytics to create and use data to identify students at highest risk of not being retained to allow early intervention.


Goal: Develop scholarships and financial aid policies which are more deliberate in addressing the needs of socio-economic realities. Incentivize students to regain lost scholarships.


  • The financial aid office implemented key financial aid recommendations from consultants, including significantly faster packaging of financial aid for students.
  • Developed Summer earn back initiative, increasing return rate of students who lost a scholarship from 14.3% (anticipated) to 45.5% (actual); resulted in 31 students earning back their academic scholarship in fall of 2017.
  • Tied in need-based consideration to Foundation scholarships.
  • Restructured scholarship renewal requirements, lowering attrition rate from 34.4% (anticipated) to 20.7% (actual).
  • Developed a new holistic procedure for selection of University Honors students; increased University Honors awards from 22 in fall 2016 to 47 for fall 2017.


Goal: Establish a robust, sophisticated, and proactive human resources function to ensure compliance with all HR related legal requirements, to help hire strong and diverse employees, and to analyze employee issues (e.g., stepped down or phased retirement) and propose responses in support of enhanced job performance and high morale.


  • Hired new Director of human resources experienced in higher education.
  • University-wide benefit committee recommended insurance plan design changes in Fall 2016 to offer three tier health insurance options in order to manage rising insurance costs.
  • Evaluation committee proposed and Human Resources staff implemented Cornerstone online application software for non-classified and classified positions to improve the job hiring process.
  • Service Excellence Committee introduced several initiatives this past year. One of those initiatives, called WOW, recognizes employees who demonstrate service excellence.
  • Diversity of faculty and staff continues to improve (8.33% in fall of 2015 to 9.09% in fall of 2016).


Goal: Develop and implement a diversity and inclusion plan to include all stakeholders for our campuses


  • David Blanks identified as Chair of Diversity Super-Committee.
  • Creation of diversity super-committee and development of sub-committees underway. Recommendations by these groups is in progress for completion in 2017-18.


Goal: Recognize, encourage and promote the use of co-curricular and high impact educational practices (e.g. athletics, student research, student learning, internships, research, service learning, interdisciplinary project-based courses, study abroad, learning communities)


  • Efforts to increase high impact practices resulted in 20 additional students studying abroad (64% increase), 26 students enrolling in new interdisciplinary course offerings, and redesigning 5 undergraduate courses into research based courses


Goal: Establish an Office of Grants and Research Support that assists in securing external funds for student success initiatives, high impact learning experiences, professional development and community engagement opportunities, and scholarly activities.


  • Fully operationalized the Office of Sponsored Programs and University Initiatives.
  • Increased the amount of grant proposals by 37% and increased the amount of grant awards by 4% from 2015-16 to 2016-17.
  • Restructured Energy Center into Interdisciplinary Research Center, with 4 faculty directors who work to facilitate research activity with faculty across campus.


Goal: Faculty Senate and Executive Council should collaborate to define the parameters and implementation of shared governance to accomplish the academic goals of the university.


  • Funded faculty attendance at a shared governance conference, who returned to disseminate information to campus through professional development workshops and a guest lecture from former AAUP Chair, Dr. Larry Gerber.
    • Resulted in recommended changes to the Faculty Handbook more in line with AAUP shared governance and academic freedom standards, and contributed to greater faculty participation in the budget advisory process
  • Continued efforts by Faculty Senate subcommittee with Deans to incorporate feedback from faculty on changes to the promotion and tenure policy.


Goal: Academic Affairs, in collaboration with appropriate university stakeholders, will directly oversee all university retention efforts by establishing a Student Success Center.


  • Operationalized Office of Student Success by centralizing services of Advising Center, Career Services, and Tutoring Center and hiring permanent Assistant VP and Special Projects Director, work of the office is ongoing, though goal 2.2 has been met.


Goal: The University, through the Graduate College and in collaboration with other Colleges, will develop a comprehensive strategy for a renewed graduate education initiative that will propose new programs, develop services to promote success for graduate students, and create a marketing plan as appropriate.


  • Added 3 new graduate programs: Master of Business Administration (online), Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering and Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Moved Master of Science in Nursing online and added online graduate certificates in Academic Advising and in Teaching.
  • Expanded Grad Fair presence to bordering states (LA, OK, MO).
  • Education Advisory Board (EAB) commissioned to assess industry demand of online graduate programs.
  • Allocated Gala Fundraiser funds to develop Emerging Scholars scholarship for new graduate students, to provide scholarship funds to each graduate program for returning students, and to establish professional development and research funds for graduate students.
  • Campus Life partnered with the graduate school to launch graduate student orientation and On Track program to engage students.
  • Expanded Graduate Student Symposium to include poster sessions and oral presentations of research.


Goal: The University, through the College of eTech and in collaboration with other Colleges, will develop a comprehensive strategy for a renewed online education initiative that will collaborate with Departments and Colleges to ensure innovation and sound pedagogy of existing online programs, will foster and support development of existing face-to-face programs into an online environment, will propose additional online educational opportunities ( e.g., student success initiatives, certificates, undergraduate and graduate degree programs), will develop services to promote success for online students, and will create a marketing plan as appropriate.


  • Commissioned Education Advisory Board (EAB) to perform program review of current and potential online programs.
  • Implemented Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree and launched Leadership Certificate.
  • Improved online student services to include a registered student organization (Adult and Online Student Organization) and availability of student IDs for online students.
  • Offered faculty development opportunities for improving online instruction:
    • eTech Online Certification course (42 faculty participants since Spring 2016);
    • Transition to Teaching Online (T2TOL) (97 participants since Spring 2016).


Goal: Develop a strategy to review and modify all academic and cocurricular programs, and general education curricula (including additions and eliminations of programs no longer viable) to promote high academic standards, ensure currency within the field of study, and address current and future workforce trends.


  • Reinitiated Course Program General Education (CPGE) system for evaluating general education courses.
  • Developed schedule for internal review of all programs (unless specially accredited).
  • Reviewed and responded to ADHE’s program viability report (deleted an AA degree).


Goal: To provide viable stackable degree opportunities within and between campuses which do not diminish the distinct educational objectives of each campus, existing curricula will be restructured and new programs will be developed (e.g., curricula in degree programs will be structured to provide certificates and/or other degrees during the natural progression of the educational pathway).


  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) implemented Fall 2017, with stackability for Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees and certificates from Ozark and other two-year institutions.
  • AAS and BS in Cybersecurity implemented in Fall 2017. The BS is also stackable with other AAS degrees (e.g. Paramedic associate degree with EAM bachelor degree).
  • Stackability audit, outlining opportunities for stackable credentials from Ozark to Russellville, completed.
  • New Stackable credentials created supporting current degrees.


Goal: The VPM and the Ozark Chancellor will give leadership to the development of academic programs that utilize the faculty and resources from different colleges and between campuses, resulting in greater coherence and continuity between existing programs and the creation of new programs which will address the changing educational/training workforce needs of the 21st century.


  • Created new programs: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS), AAS and BS in Cybersecurity, Leadership minor (Education), Leadership certificate (Professional Studies).
  • Moved nursing programs online: RN to BSN and MSN.
  • Increased general education offerings at Ozark location.
  • Created stackable degrees with the Paramedic AAS degree to bachelor degree in emergency management.


Goal: In collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Services, develop a university ethics statement, develop and implement a method of tracking academic misconduct between courses, and investigate the need for a university-wide honor code for all stakeholders that addresses academic and professional behavior.


  • ATU joined the International Center for Academic Integrity.
  • Honor Code Taskforce established, including 12 faculty, 9 staff, 10 students.


Goal: In collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Services, develop and implement a plan to coordinate Student Services programming with the academic mission of the university.


  • Improved communication between Faculty Senate and Student Government Association, with Faculty Senators attending an SGA meeting and facilitating a survey to gather student input on potential changes to the academic calendar and end of term schedule.
  • Partnered with faculty and staff to create over 500 programs for the On Track Co-Curricular program module.
  • Camus Life partnered with faculty to create the $100 Solution program, which enhances service-learning.
  • Campus Life partnered with the graduate college to create a Leadership Minor, implemented in Fall 2017.


Goal: Optimize university revenue by understanding and recruiting students for specific programs, as well as reviewing and changing pricing strategies commensurate with the university's brand strength within the state.  


  • Budget advisory committee actively worked on FY18 budgetary issues and recommended tuition increase for Fall 2017 along with a new fee structure. 
  • Initiated staggered fee increases for courses in the most expensive programs at the university.
  • Implemented out-of-state tuition waiver for graduate students majoring in low enrolled fields. 


Goal: Redesign the university’s advancement function to enhance giving and increase grant awards.


  • Increased new gifts and pledges by 33% from $2.5M-$3.4M.
  • Increased alumni donors by 5%.
  • Systemized and operationalized database reporting.
  • Developed Comprehensive Alumni Engagement Plan.
  • Restructured and aligned Alumni and Foundation Boards.


Goal: Continue to develop a budgeting process that is transparent and well understood by stakeholders, has periodic evaluations and is designed to optimize university resources (including additions and eliminations of programs no longer viable).


  • Convened the university-wide budget advisory committee to work on budgetary issues and led communication efforts regarding budgetary issues on campus.
  • Subcommittees of the budget advisory committee worked on specific issues; communication, fees and revenue committees created.


Goal: Develop a campus facility master plan as a basis of a coherent, multiyear approach to facility and infrastructure needs. This master plan should be reviewed annually.


  • Hired campus master planners, Perkins + Will and Polk Stanley Wilcox to conduct the university campus master plan process, which included 6 task forces and had active/strong involvement from all levels of constituent groups.
    • The master plan included a facilities assessment condition of all of the university’s buildings and plans to optimize academic space, renovate existing buildings, propose new buildings, and make functional outdoor space on the three campuses.
    • Master plan completed and approved by the board of trustees in October, 2017.
  • Completed major renovations in 5 residence halls.


Goal: Develop a facilities and technology capital financial plan, including sources and uses of funding, that looks out up to ten years while focusing on the next five years, and is updated annually. The plan should include new buildings, technology, and infrastructure, as well as renovation and renewal of existing assets in these categories.


  • The Board of Trustees approved technology and telecom reserves for repairs, replacements, and renovations from unexpended year-end balances left over from the operating telecom and technology accounts of $110k and $530k, respectively.
  • A plan to refinance and restructure bond debt was started and a fall 2017 bond refinancing of bond debt was approved by the board of trustees in December, 2017.


Goal: Develop and implement effective strategies of disseminating information across all levels of the university and determining if/what additional information would benefit faculty, staff, students, and/or Board of Trustee members.


  • Creation of structured ongoing communications plan for information flow:
    • President’s Communication Committee began February 2017;
    • EC employee lunches with faculty and staff commenced in Spring 2017;
    • President newsletter launched Spring 2017 for board of trustees, legislators and the community;
    • Held a social event for the board of trustees, executive council and the faculty senate executive committee.


Goal: The university will develop environmental sustainability initiatives.


  • Spring 2017, ATU entered into a MOU with the Arkansas economic development energy office to participate in an energy audit, and on June 23, 2017, received an initial facility study conducted by Performance Services, Inc.
    • The study identified possible energy savings totaling approximately $25 million, and a proposed energy project plan was presented to executive council and to the Board of Trustees in the fall of 2017.


Goal: Increase the visibility of the University by strengthening the mission and vision statements, developing a 21st century brand identity, and conducting a detailed marketing analysis.


  • Vision and mission statements update completed by the Board of Trustees in October 2016.
  • Completion of 4-year brand tracking research study of potential students and their parents by Simpson Scarborough completed in June 2017.


Goal: Improve the career readiness of students and alumni by establishing stronger and broader career services efforts, including collaborating with businesses to enhance these services and provide curricular recommendations.


  • Increased business and industry employer participation at career fairs by 41.3% (341 to 482), and student participation by 24.7% (1,445 to 1,802).  Increased number of employer contacts and outreach through CareerLink by 71.3% (956 to 1,638).
  • Initiated Nursing Career Fair (43 employers in 2016-17) and continued College to Career Conference (over 200 students and 20 faculty involved).
  • Emphasized MyMajors as a tool for students to link competencies and interests to majors and therefore careers.
  • Replaced CareerLink with Handshake to increase visibility between employers and ATU students and alumni.


Goal: Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for internationalization and global education.


  • Reached agreements (MOUs) with University of Graz-Austria and with the University of the Ozarks for undergraduate international students to begin early graduate classes at ATU.
  • 51 students participated in 13 programs in 8 countries in 2016-17 (64% increase in participation).


Goal: Partner in economic development efforts with community, industry and regional and state governments to help recruit new business to the River Valley and Ozark regions, including the utilization of the El Paso Glenwood Avenue extension corridor to unify Arkansas Tech University with the city of Russellville.


  • ATU campuses represented and active members in nine chambers of commerce.
  • ATU represented and active in the River Valley Alliance and the Fort Smith Regional Alliance.
  • Ozark represented in Leadership Russellville.
  • Miller Boskus Lack hired in Spring 2016 to do El Paso market analysis and stimulate activation activity.
    • Market analysis completed and activation activities on El Paso implemented in Fall 2016 (included Food trucks, pop-up event, #experienceelpaso); charettes completed in November 2016.
    • Rezoning plan for El Paso developed in coordination with the city is in progress for approval in late 2017.
  • Representatives from ATU participated in the Uncommon Communities project to enhance Russellville, supported by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.


Goal: Increase partnerships with city, regional, and state governments through marketing our established strengths and utilizing government liaisons, administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni.


  • The President / Chancellor and designees have ongoing communications with local and state government officials.
  • Newsletter highlighting ATU strengths and achievements sent monthly from the president to state legislators and city government officials.
  • Presentations to organizations and individuals in the River Valley and across the state by executive staff members and the president to advocate for ATU.