Auburn University Strategic Plan

Priority 1: Elevating Academics
The Auburn University System will elevate undergraduate education and enrich the undergraduate experience.


Initiative 2: Strengthen learning and teaching.

"Improving educational outcomes is appropriately becoming an area of greater emphasis for all institutions. Global competitive forces serve to reinforce this trend. Auburn will build on our existing work that measures learning outcomes, strengthens teaching effectiveness, and enhances diversity. These efforts will include enhancing courses to ensure, for example, that students engage in problem-solving and critical writing and gain an understanding of other cultures, the global forces making this an interdependent world, and the growing sustainability challenge. Courses will also take advantage of students' readiness as digital learners to absorb computer-delivered content, and they will incorporate service and collaborative learning.  A greatly invigorated Honors College will enrich learning opportunities for our academically strongest students."

GOAL 3: A revision of Auburn University's General Education Core Curriculum was successfully completed from 2009-2010, and the revised core was implemented in fall 2011.

"Both campuses will conduct a review of general education requirements and novel general education programs at peer institutions. While it is not imperative that we change our requirements, it is important to understand what other universities value in their general-education approaches. In the review, we will also consider opportunities for students to study and engage in the theory and practice of American democracy."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • Following the recommendations of the General Education Task Force, the revision of Auburn University's Core Curriculum was completed in spring 2011, and has been implemented for all students beginning fall 2011 or thereafter.
  • All Core Curriculum Courses are aligned with between one and three Student Learning Outcomes.  Auburn University's Student Learning Outcomes represent the academic skills and principles the institution wants our students to know and/or be able to do as they progress towards completing their educational goals.
  • The revision resulted in over 20 existing or new courses added to the Humanities, Literature, Fine Arts, and Social Science areas, with the potential for more courses to be added annually.
  • Existing Core Courses began assessing Student Learning Outcomes in fall 2010; as of fall 2011, all Core Courses are collecting assessment data in preparation for SACS reaffirmation in 2013.
GOAL 4: Auburn University continues to place a strong emphasis on enhancing student writing skills through the expansion of the University Writing Center and the efforts of the Writing Initiative. 

"Employers indicate that while writing is one of the most valued skills, more than 80 percent of their employees need writing help and improvement. Auburn will fully organize and staff a Writing Center to better prepare AU students to meet this need.  While the work of the Writing Initiative Task Force is ongoing, some of the basic functions and activities of the Writing Center may include the following:

  1. All entering freshmen will be evaluated on their writing skills during the admissions process. Either the ACT writing sample or a placement exam based on writing skills will be used for this review.
  2. Course selection and remediation plans will be developed for any entering student who does not have appropriate writing skills.
  3. Basic writing or composition courses in the lower division (freshman and sophomore levels) will be conducted in small classes, preferably of 20 students or less. The concept is that the small classes will allow students greater opportunities to have more writing assignments and stronger feedback.

At the upper division (junior and senior levels), three writing intensive courses will be required within each major. Samples of each student's work will be reviewed and evaluated by the Center. Writing intensive courses will be approved by the provost at Auburn or vice chancellor at Auburn Montgomery. The logic of working on writing skills at the upper-division level is that students need continuing practice to retain those skills learned early in their college career and need experience in writing in their specific disciplines."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • Writing scores from the ACT or SAT have been used in admissions since 2009.

ACT Combined English/Writing Score or SAT Writing Score Equivalent

Table 2:  Fall 2008-2010 New Freshmen Cohorts

  • In spring 2010, a new Director of University Writing began oversight of Auburn's Writing Initiative; immediate plans include hiring a new Assistant Director of University Writing to oversee the Miller Writing Center.
  • In April 2010, the Auburn University Senate endorsed a "Writing in the Disciplines" requirement so that significant writing instruction beyond the core curriculum is included in every major.  Although this requirement is university-wide, each program is responsible for designing different ways to meet the writing needs of their discipline.  The plans for implementation will be reviewed and approved by this writing committee in concert with the university Curriculum Committee to ensure consistency to the principles.
  • In 2011, The Miller Writing Center was opened to serve all undergraduate students and maintains seven locations (Haley Center, Library Learning Commons, Athletic Center, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, College of Architecture and Building Sciences, and Starbucks at the Student Center).
  • As of May 1, 2011 84% of the 113 undergraduate programs have approved plans; five programs were granted extensions because of transitions or plans to change curricula; four plans are in the review process and we expect the remaining 13 programs to submit plans or request extensions in the next two weeks.
  • The Miller Writing Center also saw 1,028 different students in fall 2010 for a total of 2,196 consultations. In spring 2011, it saw 1,114 students for a total of 2,173 consultations, compared to spring 2010 when it had 796 appointments.
GOAL 5: Auburn University continues to increase opportunities for students to acquire international experiences through opportunities both on and off campus. 

"Demonstrating international skills may take a variety of forms - including, for example:

  1. Earning eight credit-hours of language training
  2. Passing the U.S. State Department foreign language or equivalency test at the basic level
  3. Engaging in a study abroad program approved by the Office of International Education.

Exceptions to these representative requirements may be determined by the provost (Auburn) or the vice chancellor (Montgomery), who may add other experiences and/or combinations that would satisfy the concept of international skills or proficiencies.  The Auburn University Student Government Association (SGA) endorsed this step through passage of a resolution in the Student Senate."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • The Office of International Programs continues working to implement the recommendations from the International Skills Task Force that include:
    • requiring students to complete an international sequence and emphasizing international awareness through the Core Curriculum;
    • requiring students to demonstrate a single foreign culture's impact using multiple sources
    • offering international skills certification via university-sponsored and study abroad opportunities
    • amending annual reviews to acknowledge faculty efforts in international scholarship and teaching, and
    • admissions preference to students who can demonstrate a language proficiency.
  • Currently, reciprocal academic exchanges are being created with strategic partners overseas.   Efforts to recruit top international students are currently underway, and international alumni are being contacted to assist Auburn University efforts overseas.
  • International Programs is also facilitating overseas service opportunities initiated in the colleges, Student Services, and University Outreach.
GOAL 6: Auburn University and Auburn University Montgomery continue to promote and create new Study Abroad opportunities for students.

"Approximately 5 percent of our students currently engage in study abroad. Our goal is that 25 percent of our students at the Auburn campus and 10 percent at the Montgomery campus receive such experience."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • In spring 2010, an Assistant Provost for International Programs was hired to continue moving the global and international agenda forward.
  • As of fall 2011, 100% of the colleges and schools offer study abroad opportunities. AUM has increased its study abroad participation by 5%.

Percentage of first-year (FY) students and seniors (SR) who
indicated that they have done or plan to do study abroad


Source:  OIRA, NSSE 2008-2011 data

  • To encourage AU students to be involved in International Experiences, two unique programs have been created:
    • Non-credit Global Passport for freshmen is a voluntary, non-academic experience for freshmen students;
    • The International Scholars Program, available to all students and can be completed with both on-campus coursework or study abroad options.
GOAL 7: Learning Communities and Service Learning Projects at Auburn University have been developed as strategies for improving academic success and increasing graduation rates.

"Data suggests that students who live on campus and are engaged in student activities are more likely to graduate and will complete their degrees at a faster pace. When the new residence halls on the Auburn campus are completed and a learning community is established, we will expect either participation in the learning community environment or participation in service learning, such as through the Cooperative Extension System or in the local community. The standards for both will be determined by the Provost's Office."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • Auburn University has significantly increased its Learning Community offerings, with 46 cohorts offered in 2011, compared to just 6 cohorts in 2005.
  • Freshmen participation in Learning Communities remains steady, a reported 88% of freshmen students participated in a Learning Community or a UNIV course, during the 2010-2011 Academic Year, compared to 76% in the 2009-2010 Academic Year.
  • All Learning Communities include a service-learning component and the Common Book selection.  The Colleges and Schools have responded positively to increasing the availability of offering themed communities and clustered classes.

Percentage of first-year (FY) students and seniors (SR) who
indicated that they have done or plan to do community service or volunteer

  • Students have the option of participating in the residential component, which has proven to be a highly desirable factor in their decision to participate.

GOAL 8: New Auburn University faculty are participating in the programs of the Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

"All new tenure-track faculty with teaching assignments on the Auburn campus will be expected to participate in the offerings of the Biggio Center for Teaching Excellence. Faculty with classroom teaching evaluations below departmental averages (or those who have deficiencies based on peer review) will be expected to work with the Center to develop teaching-improvement plans. Auburn Montgomery will design and implement an equivalent professional development program to foster teaching excellence.

We will ensure that our teaching approaches are student-centered, reflecting best-practice techniques for addressing the varied ways in which students learn. We will also ensure that the role of the instructor at Auburn keeps up with the pace set by leading peer institutions. As part of this ongoing effort, we will benchmark the ways in which other nationally-ranked public universities deploy electronic media and other forms of information and communication technology to enhance learning. Our goal for IT-enabled teaching will be to ensure that Auburn is a smart adopter, investing in technology that is proven and cost-effective for pedagogy at a land-grant university and training faculty and students so that it is put to productive use."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • Beginning in 2009, the Biggio Center initiated several initiatives including workshops addressing topics important for new faculty, including: course design, publishing and academic writing, professional development, Auburn Symposium on Cultural Perspectives, individual consultations, and an academic portfolio retreat.
  • In addition to small group instructional feedback, the Biggio Center also provides mid-semester evaluations of teaching for all new faculty members who request feedback and individualized teaching enhancement. Biggio Center representatives visit individual classes and interview students to identify strengths and weaknesses of individual faculty members. Due to a high demand for this service, students may provide comments and feedback to the Biggio Center online if a representative is unable to attend each instructor's class.
  • In fall 2009, the Provost's Office began the Auburn University Faculty Mentoring Program. The program, designed to pair senior faculty with new faculty, successfully integrated programs offered by the Biggio Center, the Office of the Vice President for Research, University Outreach, Women's Initiatives, and the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. Through the program, mentors and mentees explore topics including: how to function effectively in the college's organizational structure, managing professional responsibilities, increasing awareness of available resources for professional development, and achieving greater satisfaction with career programs.
  • Also in 2009, the Biggio Center established a new Graduate Certificate in Teaching available to all current faculty and graduate students.   Auburn is the only university in the SEC to offer such a program.
GOAL 9: Auburn University continues to expand the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) and use of the data to improve curriculum.

"We will continue our energetic commitment to accountability through implementation of national learning-assessment instruments and to specific and ambitious improvement on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) and other outcome-based measures.

We will also enhance teaching and learning using evidence-based techniques. More specifically, we will further develop our ability to use CLA data to guide educational practice by means such as the following:

  1. Enlarging the basic cohort of students tested for CLA scores
  2. Initiating parallel studies using in-depth sampling - for example, Honors College students
  3. Training faculty to devise and score CLA-like performance tasks for teaching and assessment in their own classrooms
  4. Uncovering lines of inquiry for further study by linking CLA performance data at the student level to course-taking patterns, grades, other student-level assessments, National Survey of Student Engagement responses, or major-specific assessments."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • Auburn's 2009-13 CLA Longitudinal Study has reached its midway point, with testing in spring 2011 of approximately 200 rising juniors who first took the CLA as Auburn freshmen in fall 2009. Institutional level results from the first CLA study were useful in calling attention to the need for a writing initiative. 

    CLA Analytic Writing Mean Scores:  Cross-Sectional Results 2005-2009

  • This round of CLA testing will allow us to estimate the gains students have made in reasoning and communication skills after two years of college.
  • In April 2010, CLA staff ordered a Performance Task Academy on the Auburn campus to enable faculty to learn how to develop real-world scenarios, like those used for the CLA, to teach reasoning and communication skills.
GOAL 10: Auburn University continues to increase its ethnic diversity programs and initiatives.

"Auburn will maintain its strong commitment to ethnic diversity with standards to help ensure faculty, staff, and student diversity. We will continue ongoing and systematic implementation of the 2006 Diversity Strategic Plan, already published and accepted, and continue to monitor our progress. To supplement our efforts, we will evaluate possible additional programs, including a joint minority-recruitment program on both campuses, hiring additional senior-level minority faculty, and developing a Diversity Research Institute to provide leadership in diversity-related research. We have a significant new opportunity with the projected dramatic increase in the number of Hispanic high school graduates in Alabama and in neighboring states. We will develop undergraduate offerings designed to be effective for strong students from this ethnic background. In doing so, we will learn from those practices proven successful at other universities."

Summary of Progress Achieved:              

  • The Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA) has initiated several reward programs acknowledging those faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to the advancement of diversity at Auburn University.
  • Committee members have been identified to serve on the AUM Diversity Committee to review and update the 2007 Diversity Plan.  This committee, led by the Assistant Provost for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, will continue to review and provide appropriate updates and adjustments to the current plan.  To this point, the Associate Provost has been tracking progress on this plan and making adjustments as necessary.
  • Initiatives completed during the past three years include:
  • AUM Strategic Diversity Plan – The Auburn University at Montgomery Strategic Diversity Plan is being revised and is currently under review. The new 2012 Plan for Institutional Diversity will be online once the final draft is complete. Most of the goals cited in the original 2007 Strategic Diversity Plan have been implemented and are ongoing.  The 2012 Plan builds upon goals and implementations cited in the original document.
  • AUM Seamless Admission Summer Bridge Program – The AUM Seamless Admission Summer Bridge Program for Engineering and Science Students is an academic enrichment opportunity for women and underrepresented minority incoming freshmen that plan to major in science or engineering. This is a $100,000 pilot project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is based at AUM.  The goal of the project is to create a pathway for at-risk students to matriculate into Auburn via AUM.
  • Auburn University College/School Strategic Diversity Plans – All twelve Colleges and Schools, as well as the University Libraries, have developed their own Strategic Diversity Plans in support of the Auburn University Strategic Diversity Plan with the goal of increasing the diversity of faculty, students, and staff.  Assessment reports are published annually.
  • Charles W. Barkley Endowed Professorships – Two Charles W. Barkley Endowed Professorships were established in 2010 to support underrepresented faculty at the rank of full professor that have excellent and superior credentials in teaching, research, and service in their disciplines. Dr. Constance Hendricks, Professor in School of Nursing, and Dr. Curtis Jolly, Professor of Agricultural Economics in College of Agriculture, were the first recipients and serve as Diversity Faculty Mentors.
  • Janet and John Stone Award and Lectureship – The Janet and John Stone Award and Lectureship Endowment for Multicultural Understanding, Equity, and Justice were designed to honor individuals that do exemplary service and have outstanding accomplishments in promoting cultural and racial understanding, equality, and justice. The 2011 recipient of the Award and Lectureship is Dr. Heather May, Assistant Professor of Theatre in the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. May will give a public lecture at Auburn University in Fall 2011.
  • Diversity Faculty Mentoring Program Research Grant – The Diversity Faculty Mentoring Program Research Grant was created in 2010 using Title VI funds to promote retention of African American faculty by supporting well-designed research projects. The program develops a one-on-one relationship between an African American faculty member (mentee) and an experienced and successful senior colleague (mentor) from the same discipline. Three awards totaling $15,000 with $28,018 in cost-sharing for a grand total of $43,018 have been awarded for the June 2011- May 2012 period to black faculty in College of Business (1), College of Education (1), and School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (1).
  • SAMSA Masamu Program – The SAMSA Masamu Program, an effort initiated in 2010 by research professors in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to enhance collaboration in research in mathematical sciences between Canadian, Southern Africa Mathematical Sciences Association (SAMSA), UK, and US institutions.
  • Global Outreach – In collaboration with University Outreach and the Office of the Vice President for Research, six working groups were formed in 2009 to focus on creating and developing multidisciplinary international projects. An Africa Initiative was formally formed constituting several focus groups including Business Development and Trade, Education and Capacity Building, Energy, Water, and Environment, Food Security and Sustainability, Global Health, and Science and Technology. Several proposals have been developed and the Masamu Program described above has been externally funded.
  • Female Faculty Mentoring/Networking – Women's Initiatives regularly hosts mentoring and networking activities for female faculty. These activities include the Colleagues Circles program and informal networking gatherings and brown-bag lunches that address topics of interest to women faculty, including barriers to success and work-life issues.
  • Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) Institute – WISE supports individuals in STEM disciplines at every academic level. The WISE Institute co-sponsors several speakers that come to campus each year. Speakers provide campus-wide addresses and meet with female undergraduate and graduate students. WISE also sponsors a Learning Community for incoming freshmen women majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Graduate Programs include post-doctoral location assistance, speed mentoring with faculty, social events, the WISE lecture series and graduate student/postdoctoral student luncheons with seminar speakers.
  • Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP) – Young Women Leaders Program, initiated in 2010, is a psychoeducational mentoring program in which 8 middle school girls are paired with female college students. Mentor-mentee pairs meet biweekly during the semester and address issues related to girls' sense of self, scholastic achievement, body image, social aggression, and healthy decision making.
  • Conferences and Lectures – Regularly held conferences and lectures include the Women's Leadership Conference, WISE Lecture Series, and the AASD-STEM Annual Conference. ODMA regularly hosts, in partnership with other units on campus, diversity lectures by prominent speakers.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Week – The Auburn University community commemorates the legacy and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a weeklong series of events and programs for Auburn University students, faculty, administrators, alumni, community partners, and friends. Highlights of the week include keynote speakers, lectures, student performances, scholarship breakfast, and community service projects.
  • Multicultural Center – The Multicultural Center provides cultural and educational programming that enriches the experience of all students at Auburn University and serves as a resource center for faculty, staff, and members of surrounding communities. Activities hosted by the Multicultural Center include a Lecture Series, Watch and Learn Film Series, Leadership Training, Diversity Awareness, and a variety of events held each year during King Week.
  • Alabama Alliance for Students with Disabilities in STEM (AASD-STEM) – AASD-STEM, initiated in 2009, is a collaborative effort involving Auburn University, Tuskegee University, Alabama State University, Auburn University Montgomery, Southern Union State Community College, and eight public school districts in East-Central Alabama. The goals of the Alliance are to increase the quality and quantity of students with disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics disciplines entering college and completing associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees in STEM disciplines. The Alliance is accomplishing these goals by providing scholarships, research experiences, and mentoring opportunities to high school students, undergraduate, and graduate students.
  • Provost Leadership Undergraduate Scholarship (PLUS) Program – The PLUS program was instituted in 2006 to increase diversity among the undergraduate student population at Auburn University, with an emphasis on students from underserved populations. The program assists seventy students per year financially by providing a $2,000 scholarship per academic year renewable up to four years, and supports them academically and socially to ensure that they are successful at Auburn University. Retention activities include peer mentoring, workshops on time management and study skills, tutoring and counseling services, leadership opportunities, and enrolling new students in freshman level core classes together.
  • Providing Peer Opportunities for Developing Students (P2ODS) – The P2ODS Program was designed in 2008 to mentor and empower underrepresented and disadvantaged students to excel in academics and leadership. The goal of the program is to increase the retention and graduation rate of students at Auburn University. Activities of the P2ODS program include participation in Diversity events, group and individual mentoring sessions, leadership training, and lectures on academic and career success strategies.
  • Summer Enrichment Experience (SEE) Program – Created in 2008, the SEE Auburn program is an intensive four-week residential summer program for over 30 underserved students. The program is staffed by Mathematics and English faculty, graduate teaching assistants, counselors, and academic advisors. Students take two classes designed to prepare them for freshman-level coursework and participate in parallel workshops supplementing the classroom instruction. The aims of the program are to increase enrollment for underserved populations, increase students' mathematics and English skills, expose students earlier to various fields, develop study and time management skills, and introducing the students to a network of faculty, staff, and fellow minority students.
  • President's Graduate Opportunity Program (PGOP) – PGOP was instituted in 1984. The major purpose of the program is to recruit, retain, and support African-American students engaged in graduate study leading to a doctoral degree from Auburn University. Fifteen students each year receive a $10,000 PGOP Fellowship in addition to a stipend provided by the department, school, or college in which recipients are enrolled. Both the fellowship and stipend are renewable for up to three years of doctoral study.
  • Alabama Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) – The Auburn Alabama LSAMP Program, initiated in 1994, is aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of students' success in completing STEM baccalaureate degree programs and increasing the number of students matriculating into programs of graduate study. Scholarships are awarded to outstanding incoming underrepresented minority freshmen majoring in Science, Engineering, or Mathematics. Recipients are required to attend Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics Workshops and maintain a 3.0 GPA.
  • Bridge to the Doctorate (BD) Program – The Bridge to the Doctorate Program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and provides financial support to eligible students for two years of graduate study in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics disciplines. The goal of the program is to increase the production of new minority PhDs and their entrance into productive faculty or research careers. BD Fellows receive a $30,000 annual stipend, cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees, mentoring programs, conference and research travel opportunities, seminars and workshops, graduate and professional student associations, and academic enrichment experiences.
  • Alabama Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) – The goal of the AGEP program is to increase significantly the number of domestic students receiving doctoral degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and entering the professoriate, with special emphasis on those population groups underrepresented in these fields (African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders). The Alabama AGEP was initiated in 1999 and was awarded an NSF planning grant in 2011.
  • Diversity Council – The Diversity Council, created in 2007, provides a forum for developing and implementing diversity programs in colleges, schools, and administrative units and promotes cooperation and collaboration among units on matters concerning diversity. Council members represent each college and school, administrative units, and the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. The council is guided by the Strategic Diversity Plan and meets four times (2 per semester) during the academic year and once during the summer semester.
  • Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Leadership Council (DMALC) – The DMALC, created in 2008, provides support in continual development of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs to maintain programs of excellence that promote diversity and equal opportunity. The council provides advice and counsel to the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, assists in providing resources necessary for having and maintaining programs of excellence, and works with faculty, staff, and alumni in recruiting students, staff, and faculty from diverse backgrounds for entrance into Auburn University's academic programs and positions.
GOAL 11: Auburn University continues to seek ways of enhancing and increasing student services.

"The University plans to perform a comprehensive review of student services to ensure a supportive learning environment.

Additional tactical improvements that support our drive toward strengthening learning and teaching include regularly benchmarking best practices in applying new technologies, providing experience in online learning, and designing bridge opportunities for students who require additional support, especially those from rural secondary schools."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • In 2009, The University Undergraduate Advising Council (UUAC) was established and identified work teams to address several issues, including mid-term grades and other retention and graduation-related issues.
  • Several continuing and new initiatives were implemented in an effort to improve academic advising.  These initiatives include:
    • the 2010-2011 implementation of Degree Works, a new degree audit system;
    • continuation of a 2010 pilot study using mid-term grades reported by faculty in Banner,
    • completion of the comprehensive Advising Manual for professional academic advisors,
    • implementation of Ad Astra software to allow for more efficient scheduling of academic space, and,
    • significant increase in the use of peer advisors among the colleges and schools.

An incentive model for faculty was established in fall 2010 to encourage units to create increased course offerings, particularly at the undergraduate level through Distance Learning.

Last Updated: Nov. 17, 2011

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