Charting Our Course: Our Role and Our Impact

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Charting Our Course, UW Tacoma’s new strategic plan, captures the hopes and aspirations of students, faculty, staff, alumni and our community for our next 25 years.

Click or touch the document above to read and download Charting Our Course. Or download a PDF here.

It started with a simple question:

“As an urban-serving university, what positive role can UW Tacoma play in achieving your aspirations?”

What ensued was 11 months of work by a 30-person steering committee, two co-chairs, a consultant and hundreds of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members to build a framework for action. What emerged is Charting Our Course: UW Tacoma’s Strategic Plan 2016-2021.

Charting Our Course is a beginning, a guidepost, a call to action,” said Mark Pagano, UW Tacoma Chancellor. “It lays out strategic priorities and impact goals with indicators that will help us gauge our progress.”


The University of Washington Tacoma fosters a thriving and equitable society by educating diverse learners and expanding knowledge through partnership and collaboration with all our communities.


As an urban-serving university, we:

  • Expand access to higher education in an environment where every student has the opportunity to succeed.
  • Foster scholarship, research and creativity to address the challenging problems of our time and place.
  • Partner and collaborate for common good.
  • Catalyze the economic and social vitality of the region.


Fleshing It Out

Important work is still underway to flesh out the framework. A strategic plan coordinating committee is now meeting to move the strategic plan into the fabric of UW Tacoma’s operations and culture. The faculty, staff and student members of the committee will help prioritize and support unit-level and campus-level initiatives, facilitate collaboration and evaluate plan progress. Their initial focus is on identifying work already occurring throughout our campus that is plan-aligned.

Sharpening Our Focus

One thing emerged loud and clear as work proceeded on Charting Our Course: there is no need to go off in new, uncharted directions. The plan should sharpen the focus on those core values that have been a part of the institution for more than 25 years. Thus, the strategic priorities articulated by the plan emphasize our compelling urban-serving mission and our passion for access to higher education, coupled with a strengthened commitment to meaningful, measurable results.

Strategic Priorities

Those strategic priorities are:

Students – Advance student success academically, professionally and personally.
Communities – Partner in advancing strong and diverse communities.
Scholarship – Expand and support a range of research, scholarship and creative activity.
Equity – Promote and model equity, inclusion and social justice.
Culture – Foster a climate and culture where we are inspired to do our best work.
Growth – Grow strategically and sustainably.

Impact Goals

Watch a video of the Charting Our Course Celebration.

Emerging out of those strategic priorities are six impact goals, each of which have a number of success indicators:

#1: The UW Tacoma experience empowers students to achieve their dreams.

Educating learners is why we exist. Our alumni's accomplishments in their lives, their careers and their service to our communities are the ultimate measures of our institution's success. Achieving this takes the whole University, the foundation of which is excellent teaching. The range and depth of our support for students and the quality of experiences available to them outside the classroom completes this commitment.

We'll know we're making progress as we...

  1. Strengthen persistence to graduation for all student populations
  2. Demonstrate continuous improvement in all pathway programs for K-12 schools and community colleges, particularly in the South Sound.
  3. Increase use and assessment of high-impact educational practices across all programs and for students in all stages of their studies, including co-curricular and global learning.
  4. Use best practices to evaluate, support and recognize teaching excellence and continuous improvement in teaching.
  5. Demonstrate continuous improvement in student learning through assessment of student learning outcomes.
  6. Increase student awareness of and satisfaction with the availability and accessibility of UW Tacoma resources, support and infrastructure.
  7. Increase financial aid, scholarships, fellowships and work study opportunities.
  8. Improve post-graduation success of our alumni, as measured by established indicators.

#2: We champion publicly-engaged scholarship.

Discovery is at the heart of the University. We value and support a range of scholarly and creative activity broadly defined: Discovery, integration, application, and teaching and learning. Our focus on engaged scholarship bridges the gap between theory and practice. Involving students in the scholarship of the institution enriches their experience and gives our work relevance beyond our disciplines. Publicly-engaged scholarship builds on mutually beneficial partnerships and creates positive impacts beyond the campus and academy, connecting the South Sound with the world at large.

We'll know we're making progress as we...

  1. Increase the number of faculty, students and staff involved in publicly engaged scholarship.
  2. Increase the visibility of scholarship and creative activity across the campus and in the community.
  3. Increase faculty satisfaction with the support and infrastructure for all types of scholarship, including global/international.
  4. Continuously improve the infrastructure that connects faculty, community members, students and staff as scholarly partners.
  5. Increase the number, breadth and activity of interdisciplinary, collaborative scholarly centers that address problems of our time and place.
  6. Increase the number of students participating in research, scholarship and creative activity, including producing publications, public presentations and creative works.
  7. Assess and increase our research, scholarly and creative impact using an evidence-based indicator of publicly engaged scholarship.

#3: Our community partnerships are transformational and synergistic.

UW Tacoma was borne of an engaged community, which informs our orientation today. The most successful UW Tacoma community partnerships are transformative and result in each partner achieving more together than they can alone. Partnerships flourish when they are supported with infrastructure including organizational processes, communication channels, staffing and funding.

We'll know we're making progress as we...

  1. Increase community members’ awareness of how to engage UW Tacoma.
  2. Increase the satisfaction of faculty, staff, students and community partners with the structures and resources supporting mutually beneficial engagement.
  3. Increase the application and assessment of best practices by students, faculty and staff in community engagement.
  4. Increase the number of community partnerships, including those that connect global and local communities.
  5. Increase community members’ recognition of UW Tacoma as a valued thought leader and convener that addresses the problems of our time and place.
  6. Increase the number of students graduating with high-impact community engagement and leadership experience such as internships.
  7. Increase alumni engagement in community service and leadership.

#4: We are grounded in social justice and embrace the assets of our diverse communities.

UW Tacoma prides itself on the diversity of our students, and the enriching campus life and learning such diversity brings. Yet our staff and faculty ranks do not reflect a comparable composition. Systematically assessing the experiences of students, faculty and staff will allow us to take evidence-based actions to support their retention and success. Embracing the changing demographics of higher education will help us move closer to fulfilling the promise of our vision and values. As we do so, we will become an engaged, civil and just university.

We'll know we're making progress as we...

  1. Improve the satisfaction of traditionally underrepresented students, especially racial/ethnic minority students, with the UW Tacoma experience.
  2. Increase the number and percentage of traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic minority faculty members and staff by rank or position, and achieve equity in relation to promotions, compensation and workload.
  3. Better systematize and regularize the reporting of data incorporating the intersectionality of students, faculty and staff identities to inform our decision making and benchmark our activities.
  4. Reduce disparities in achievement, experience and opportunity across diverse groups of faculty, staff and students.
  5. Increase the percentage of faculty and staff with demonstrated expertise and experience in multicultural competency, inclusive pedagogy and culturally responsive curriculum design.
  6. Increase opportunities for students to understand and embrace the assets of our diverse communities through local and global learning and engagement experiences.

#5: Our campus is respectful, productive and inclusive.

Quality relationships are the foundation of a great workplace. Employees benefit from infrastructure that keeps them informed, makes their work more efficient and highlights their accomplishments. UW Tacoma aspires to be an employer of choice by cultivating trust, care and mutual accountability. These require investments in effective communication, shared governance and administrative processes.

We'll know we're making progress as we...

  1. Align promotion and evaluation criteria to reflect UW Tacoma’s mission.
  2. Increase confidence among students, faculty and staff that UW Tacoma cares about and is responsive to the concerns of occupational and demographic groups.
  3. Improve the UW Tacoma work experience to meet the criteria of a great place to work or other recognized benchmarks.
  4. Foster an ethic of continuous learning and professional growth for both faculty and staff.
  5. Improve satisfaction of faculty, staff and students with the clarity and efficiency of our processes and procedures.
  6. Improve satisfaction of faculty, staff and students with the quality of relationships on campus, characterized by respect, civility, courtesy and a conflict-positive orientation.
  7. Improve internal communication mechanisms that increase awareness and connection among faculty, staff and students.

#6: Our innovation drives our growth, energizing us and our region.

To thrive, the University must grow. Yet growth alone is not the goal. Our growth is a measure of the relevance of our work to the future of the South Sound and the exciting promise we offer to potential students. Our growth means we are fulfilling our mission as an urban-serving university in ways that are ever more varied and valued.

We'll know we're making progress as we...

  1. Grow our campus, programs and learning pathways to support anticipated opportunities and respond to community needs.
  2. Increase the regional economic activity attributable to UW Tacoma.
  3. Improve and expand facilities, technology and resources as the campus grows.
  4. Increase the satisfaction among students with student life infrastructure, such as options for parking, dining, housing and recreation.
  5. Increase retention rates of currently enrolled students toward timely graduation.
  6. Continue implementation of best practices in environmental sustainability as we grow.


Progress and Participation

The UW Tacoma strategic planning web site is the home for updates on Charting Our Course implementation progress and opportunities to engage. The strategic plan coordinating committee plans quarterly forums and will send regular updates to the campus community via email.

Currently, the committee is inviting UW Tacoma faculty and staff to:

  • nominate additional members of the coordinating committee;
  • tell the committee about current work that is advancing one or more of the strategic plan's impact goals;
  • collaborate to propose a strategic initiative starting November 1;
  • and attend the Chancellor's Town Hall Forum on November 30 for updates.
Written by: 
John Burkhardt / October 19, 2016
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or