Pillar 2: First in Class

Our students are at the very heart of everything we do. As a comprehensive research university, the knowledge we create in all disciplines impacts our students’ scholastic, co-curricular, and career development experiences. Undergraduates learn about and participate in research in their courses and in independent studies. Graduate students contribute even more broadly by supporting faculty research, conducting their own groundbreaking studies, and mentoring undergraduates. We will continue to strive to be a sought-after destination for the most talented and ambitious students – reflecting all backgrounds and life experiences – who see that UCI is where they can reach their full potential and do their best work. We will embrace innovations in pedagogy that improve the quality of learning and provide the support necessary to ensure outstanding outcomes for all students. Their experiences inside and outside the classroom will connect them to the UCI community for life, enrich their minds and spirits, prepare them for productive lives, and empower them to make the strongest possible contributions to our world.

Expand the student body and make UCI a first-choice campus for students

  • Expand the student body while continuing to enhance student experiences and learning outcomes
  • Reach a population of 25% graduate students; focus on increasing the number and quality of Ph.D. students in particular
  • Recruit and retain all the most talented students regardless of background
  • Commit to yearly improvements in recruiting students who have also been accepted at other preeminent colleges and universities
  • Lead the nation in use and generation of evidence-based teaching approaches in higher education; find the right balance between research and teaching faculty to enhance our teaching and research missions
  • Ensure that all students gain exposure to and skills in a range of potential career options, within and outside of the academy
  • Utilize the Campuswide Honors Program, scholarships, financial aid, mentorship and shared values to make UCI a first-choice institution for prospective students

Foster excellence in teaching and learning

  • Fund a center for engaged instruction that provides support for implementing cutting-edge pedagogical practices, which includes: faculty-graduate learning communities for evidence-based teaching, online resources to provide information to faculty and graduate students
  • Support academic initiatives that enhance student learning and research, including expansion of current programs that assist faculty in developing new programs, fostering international collaborations, and assessing and modifying the portfolio of programs to ensure they are effective and meet the needs of students
  • Engage faculty in improving all aspects of graduate student development and experience by institutionalizing and acting on evaluation outcomes, supporting faculty mentor students' career goals, providing data-driven insights into improving graduate training
  • Enhance the role of lecturers with security of employment in identifying and implementing best teaching practices by clarifying their tenure and promotion reward structure and establishing an LSOE central resource center
  • Enhance academic advising for all students by creating a robust network of support among academic advisers, departments, and the central campus
  • Establish best practices for the evaluation of teaching through better systems for peer and student review, as well as for analyzing teaching portfolios and pedagogical modes
  • Enhance pedagogical training for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars by developing teaching excellence certificates, mandatory teaching assistant training, a postdoctoral pedagogical fellows program and partnerships with community colleges and California State University campuses to foster teaching and mentoring opportunities

Utilize modern technological tools to create the most effective learning environments

  • Become a national leader for high-quality online education by establishing metrics that ensure students successfully meet learning goals
  • Incorporate technological innovations and global connections into traditional on-campus teaching by providing resources for online education training, standardizing support for educational technologies, and using digital platforms to bring top lecturers and researchers into the classroom
  • Provide facilities, software and other tools that accommodate in-person and technology-based instruction

Integrate student life with educational experiences

  • Drive greater student participation in research and creative activities through the expansion of lower-division training opportunities, senior capstone experiences and mentor programs
  • Strengthen relationships among teaching assistants, research assistants, and undergraduates through enhanced TA training, utilizing graduate students as resident advisers and mentors
  • Develop undergraduate self-learners and independent scholars through explicit training in first- and second-year courses; support graduate students’ transition to independent research, career immersion programs, internships and collaborative programs.
  • Develop a culture that connects the research university academic experience with success in continued study and future careers.
  • Establish programs that help students prepare for professional success, improve access to the Career Center information and services, connect students with alumni mentors and evaluate graduate student success as part of faculty merit reviews
  • Expand mentorship programs beyond the student-advisor relationship by creating a mentorship registry for different academic career tracks, building accountability regarding the quality of mentoring and establishing formal evaluation and feedback mechanisms
  • Establish learning communities in which faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and undergraduate and graduate students collaborate, share experiences, and practice around major areas of student research and study
  • Expand existing resources, programs and services for families and other support networks to drive greater engagement, with particular attention to those with students who are first-generation, underrepresented, international, undocumented, veterans, and parents
  • Ensure that UCI Intercollegiate Athletics and the Club Sports Program are sufficiently robust to foster a unifying spirit that transcends cultures and instills pride in UCI; develop the role of athletes as ambassadors to the community
  • Foster a greater sense of community among graduate students through new or expanded programs, including Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience, the Graduate Resource Center and other spaces that encourage peer interaction
  • Provide appropriate mental health resources for students, and establish a balance between clinical and preventive care programs such as coping skills training and individual and group counseling opportunities
  • Support the development of students’ 21st-century literacy proficiencies (information, data, visual/image literacy, and global competencies) by providing instructional space integrated with library support and assessing undergraduate student learning outcomes
  • Create a 24/7 academic and social experience by increasing evening and weekend programming that attracts students, faculty, alumni, and community members to the campus; explore the feasibility of free or reduced-fee parking for evening and weekend activities, including sports and arts/performance events

Ensure that UCI’s educational opportunities are an engine for social mobility, impact and positive innovation

  • Provide support for all students regardless of background, including mentoring and networking programs, analytics to help students identify majors and enhance performance, increasing attainment of graduate level grants and fellowships
  • Complete UCI’s transformation to a Hispanic-serving institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution
  • Expand access to research-focused education for a wide and diverse population, including increasing the number of minorities and women receiving advanced degrees in underrepresented disciplines
  • Establish and maintain a positive and inclusive campus climate through a variety of educational and extracurricular experiences, which may include a robust array of student organizations, cultural and resource centers, and nontraditional paths of study
  • Increase the number of students who go on to graduate programs, primarily by enhancing undergraduate research activities
  • Educate faculty on nontraditional forms of student preparation, utilizing data-driven information and analysis
  • Enhance current Summer Bridge and summer-start programs by: increasing summer housing opportunities, enhancing academic support for students in summer programs, integrating the summer programs, and developing effective online enhancements
  • Build on our relationships with minority-serving institutions – including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions – to continue strengthening pipelines into our graduate and professional programs
  • Clarify our academic and social expectations of students through a written statement, enhanced advisement opportunities and greater utilization of mentoring
  • Broaden opportunities for students to develop leadership skills, through both on-campus student programs and external employment, internships and volunteer opportunities

Build on the success of UCI’s Campuswide Honors Program by developing a new honors college

  • Explore ways to augment and strengthen our current honors program, including improving student outcomes and diversity, enhancing co-curricular experiences, promoting the program’s prestige, and increasing the number of students, faculty, courses, space and housing
  • Explore options to more effectively integrate students with strictly sequenced majors into the CHP
  • Strengthen current connections between the CHP and departmental honors
  • Develop specialized programs around existing campus strengths (sustainability, water) and/or interdisciplinary topics
  • Develop a vision for transforming the CHP into a nationally recognized honors college