Eduvation Blog

Looking Forward: Recent Strategic Plans

Good morning!

Thanks to you, my intrepid readers, I have another university to add to the compassionate grading list (UNB), and several videos to add to my 2020 Holiday Videos playlist (now 39 vids and counting).

In the past 24 hours, Alberta and PEI have elevated the pandemic alert levels across their provinces and institutions are starting to respond, from Olds College and NAIT to UPEI.

But today I’d like to spend some time looking further out to the horizon, through the lens of 4 recent CdnPSE strategic plans. They have much in common – from an emphasis on environmental sustainability and Indigenous reconciliation, to the need to advance a focused research agenda, develop innovative programming, recruit students more aggressively and support them more holistically to academic and personal success. I’ve tried to distill the most interesting elements from each, to save you a few hours of reading!


Strategic Visions

As the year progresses, more and more CdnPSEs are unveiling their strategic plans, increasingly taking into account the impact of COVID19. (For instance, I summarized uCalgary, Carleton and Holland College’s plans back on Oct 15.) I’m going to start collecting these summaries on the Eduvation website, but following is what I found notable in several of the most recent plans. All had in common an emphasis on environmental sustainability, Indigenous reconciliation, operational efficiencies and the usual commitments to excellence and access…


Acadia: Sustainability & Impact

Acadia U’s new strategic plan was approved by the board just 1 week before COVID19 closed the campus in March, but was unveiled Nov 27. Acadia 2025 emphasizes a commitment to holistic, transformative liberal education, preparing students for a “transforming world,” and outlines 5 strategic directions “of equal and interchangeable value.” Caring for students and employees includes “inclusion, service excellence, and leadership.” Revitalizing the academic core means “compelling and impactful programs, experiential learning, and inspired teaching,” faculty interaction and undergrad research opportunities. Maximizing Acadia’s impact includes community engaged research, innovation, regional cultural and economic collaborations. Institutional sustainability means optimizing enrolment, sustained fundraising, energy efficiency, and infrastructure renewal. Research themes and environmental stewardship are entwined in rural and coastal research, climate change and sustainability, and will be “signature institutional features of Acadia.”  Acadia


Aurora: Strengthening the Foundation

Northwest Territories’ Aurora College launched a 3-year strategic plan in October, to begin its transition to a polytechnic university, “rooted in strong connections to Northern land, tradition, community and people.” Its 4 interconnected strategic pillars start with academic and research excellence, enhancing pedagogy, assessment and supports and strengthening the relationship between research and teaching. (Structural changes will be required, and new units will be guided by an Academic Plan and a Research plan “that support multiple ways of learning and knowing” and is focused on “Northern research priorities.”) Aurora will also be learning-centred, supporting their majority Indigenous student population with adaptive, tailored programs and expanded, holistic supports to ensure success and inclusion. (A SEM plan will be developed and implemented.) The college will establish and strengthen co-investment partnerships with the NWT, Indigenous governments, communities, industry, NGOs and other academic institutions. Finally, Aurora will pursue organizational effectiveness through integrated planning, transparency, accountability, and continuous quality improvement.  Aurora


Confed: Building Common Ground

Confederation College’s 2020-25 Strategic Plan, Kaa-anokaatekin, means “work that is now carried” (or “building on past success”), and as its name suggests, Indigenous reconciliation is a strong theme throughout. The 3 values are admirably concise (Courage, Equity, and Relationships), as are the 4 strategic pillars. First and foremost, Confed is committed to student access and success, and plans to expand flexible programming and pathways, employment supports, early alert and intervention systems. It aspires to be a Canadian leader in Indigenous learning, embedding Indigenous knowledges, cultures and languages in the fabric of the college, increasing Indigenous staff and faculty, embracing the Negahneewin Vision, and implementing the Mino Wiijiiwidowin (“Good Relations”) model (developed collaboratively with SK Polytech). Goals for institutional excellence include efficiency and transparency, renewing facilities, “refreshing and unifying marketing strategies to support recruitment and enrolment,” and developing a COVID19 recovery plan. Finally, the college will drive prosperity and quality of life for diverse communities, meeting employer training and applied research needs, and engaging alumni.  Confed


UNB: Expansion on Every Front

UNB Toward 2030 emphasizes research strength, financial and environmental sustainability, engagement in community debate, and transformative educational experiences, innovative and interdisciplinary programs, and experiential learning. UNB seeks to double research funding, focus on major societal challenges, expand grad students to 25% of enrolment, and support Indigenous research methods. It also plans to expand online microcredentials, expand partnerships for professional learning opportunities and research collaborations, advance EDI and diversity in campus leadership, and “invest strategically to tell our story to the world.” (Sounds like good news for the marketing team!) The plan is “expansion on every front,” growing enrolment to 15,000, investing in infrastructure renewal and expansion (reduced deferred maintenance by 50%), leading Canadian universities in environmental stewardship, and doubling research funding.  UNB


Crowdsourcing Ideas

An Open Innovation Challenge

When it comes to strategic planning, all institutions engage the campus community, and often also alumni, employers, and local industry and political leaders. But Sheridan College has just raised the bar by hosting a national “innovation challenge” to engage the entire country in brainstorming ways to address societal inequalities and amplify underrepresented voices, “to reimagine learning and education so that no one is left behind.” Until Jan 29, anyone can assemble a team of 2-5 people, capture some insights and upload them for public voting and review by an expert jury. Then in Feb and Mar, teams will start ideating potential solutions, and pitch ideas for voting in April. Up to 25 teams will move on to the 3rd stage, iterating ideas with the support of mentors and resources. Finalists will compete in June. Across the various stages, teams will be eligible to win >$60,000 in cash prizes. (Sponsors include TD Insurance.)  Sheridan


COVID on Campus

CdnPSE reported just 4 new cases of COVID19 yesterday…

Fleming College in Peterborough reported 2 new cases of COVID19 yesterday. (Total 3 cases this fall, to my knowledge.)  Fleming

Western U’s University Hospital reported 2 additional cases yesterday, bringing the total to 133 (plus ~100 Western students so far this fall).  CBC


CdnPSE Updates

While many institutions are pushing back the start of classes in January to encourage wellness (and quarantines), MtA is taking a different approach. UNB joins the 6 other universities offering compassionate grading options. uAlberta gets closer to a restructuring. And the province of Alberta imposes sweeping new health restrictions that will impact operations at most PSEs – but Olds College is the first mover…

uAlberta’s General Faculties Council (ie Senate) recommended Monday an academic restructuring effective Jul 1 that will reorganize most existing faculties and schools into 3 colleges: Health Sciences, Natural & Applied Science, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Each college would be led by a “collegial Council of Deans” and supported by a “Service Manager” who reports to them. (Campus St-Jean, Augustana, and the Faculty of Native Studies would remain standalone faculties.)  UofA

Canada Christian College seems to be one step closer to university status with the passing of Ontario’s Bill 213. The controversial evangelical pastor who heads the college, Charles McVety, is a strong supporter of premier Doug Ford, but has made anti-Muslim and homophobic statements in the past.  Global

Mount Allison U announced yesterday that the first week of classes in January will be online, to permit students time to self-isolate.  MtA

NAIT’s campus peace officers now have the authority to enforce CMOH orders, and issue provincial tickets of up to $1,200 to individuals not wearing masks, breaking isolation/quarantine requirements, or holding social gatherings. NAIT

U New Brunswick has announced an extension of the WDL date to Dec 11, and a CR/NCR option for any courses (except in the Faculty of Law).  UNB

Olds College has responded quickly to new restrictions imposed across Alberta yesterday, announcing that no indoor or outdoor social gatherings are permitted in any setting, lunchrooms and lounges are now closed, and as of Sunday the fitness centre and learning commons will be closed, campus dining will be takeout only, and mandatory WFH measures will be implemented.  Olds

UPEI moved back to an essential services model on Monday, and suspended classes for 2 weeks, in response to provincial health “yellow alert” restrictions announced on Sunday. Employees are encouraged to work and research from home. Fitness and library facilities are closed, and athletics training has ceased.  UPEI



A couple of weeks ago, Dalhousie U released a high-energy, fast-paced recruitment video (or perhaps a retention video?) worth 2 minutes to check out…


Welcome to Dalhousie

Impressive widescreen cinematography includes fast-paced cuts of athletes, researchers, musicians, farmers, chemists, and on-the-nose visual metaphors like a student climbing a rock wall or long-distance running. Voiceover student testimonials evoke new beginnings, getting out of your comfort zone, hitting new milestones, and how “we’re so lucky to be at a place where the sky’s the limit!” Watching it carefully, I think quite a few of the shots may have been planned with social distancing in mind – and yet, it’s far from obvious and nicely managed. “Once you get a handle on the fact that every day’s a new beginning, then you just sort of enjoy each one.”  YouTube


Thanks for reading!  Be safe and stay well,


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