College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Strategic Plan



UA College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
The University of Arizona

Executive Summary

The University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) embraces life, environmental and many social sciences.

CALS was our state land-grant university’s founding college and our historic role has been to create new people and new knowledge for a new economy.  This mission is the core of the nation’s land-grant universities’ shared mission and is as relevant today as it was in 1862 when the Morrill “land-grant university” Act was signed.

CALS has a matrix structure with three mission areas of teaching, research and the cooperative extension system and with coinciding academic delivery units of schools and departments.  Our strategic plan is focused to allow us to be resilient, regionally responsive to our stakeholders and globally relevant.

We must be more innovative, entrepreneurial, flexible and nimble when addressing both the practical problems of society and the basic science challenges that underpin new knowledge generation.  We need to accept risk as part of our management and leadership norms.  We will employ a “Deming cycle” of continually reviewing what we are doing so that we can change as soon as we see a better path forward.

The great recession, beginning in 2007, signaled that a new normal would emerge from a period of crisis.  We are just now, five years later, beginning to understand what this new normal is.  We do face a new reality of uncertain future economic conditions and our resulting funding levels.  We have always known that we need to be where the world is going, not where it is today.

We expect that today’s graduates will have multiple careers, not just multiple jobs.

We face, and need to be responsive to, rapidly changing technologies, delivery models, age and demographic diversity, and state demographics.

New energy sources, more efficient water and energy use, the value of food and food production will increase and these are all key areas that we can positively influence and impact, especially in our region.

Our overarching response is to focus on resilience in our management systems and what we do. We will deliver resilience through integrated systems with five interconnected components:

  • Arid and Semi-Arid Region Agriculture and Environment
  • Individuals, Families, Communities, and Organizations
  • Globally Oriented Basic and Applied Research
  • Border commerce
  • The bioeconomy

The college works on six distinct, yet interconnected and interdependent focus areas:

  • Environment, Energy and Natural Resources
  • Plant, Insect, and Microbe Systems
  • Health and Food Safety
  • Families and Communities
  • Animal Systems
  • Commerce

We must be extremely specific about how we allocate resources in future and this plan includes six specific guiding principles for doing so.  Overall we allocate resources to meet needs and directions of the University of Arizona as a whole as well as based on being an exceptional and critical hub in the nation’s knowledge network.

This plan has been developed starting from the points of delivery to my office and has involved all 1,058 people employed during the process.  Every unit in the college has developed a plan in the same format so that these can be compared and contrasted.  When presented from the administrative center in my office outwards, each plan gets more granular and more specific.  In this document, the overarching college plan is presented first followed by those of each of our three mission areas.  Each unit’s plan follows.  Additional plans that describe specific missions within the units, and very often are shared between units, follow these. The college and the three mission area strategic goals are listed below:

College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

  • Be the most sought-after place to be a part of.
  • Be a leading economic development engine for Arizona.
  • Produce employable graduates, who can do jobs that do not yet exist and create new jobs.
  • Be the most effective, efficient, responsive, flexible, and financially sustainable college on campus.

Teaching: Career and Academic Services

  • Enhance student learning opportunities.
  • Improve learning and career development infrastructure.
  • Develop financial support for Career and Academic Services.
  • Enhance career development.
  • Expand innovative educational programs.
  • Enhance CALS retention.
  • Promote faculty excellence.
  • Enhance CALS recruitment.


  • Build on existing research strengths.
  • Identify and invest in CALS research infrastructure needs.
  • Define and measure productivity and resource generation for research.
  • Expand communication on research activities.
  • Build tech transfer, intellectual property development, external business relations/development.

Cooperative Extension and Economic Development

  • Excellence in integrated CES research and education programs that improve lives, communities, and the economy (4-H YD, FCHS, ANR, FRTEP).
  • Demonstrate and communicate the positive economic and social impacts of the CES programs.
  • Invest CES resources in a strategic manner to address priorities and critical needs in Arizona and globally.


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