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Notes from Council: Draft of next University Strategic Plan presented

"This is about setting up our goals and visions at the very highest level," strategic development manager for the Office of the Provost and vice-president (academic) says.

At the Students’ Council meeting on May 23, Board of Governors (BoG) representative Stephen Raitz gave his inaugural address. Additionally, Logan Mardhani-Bayne, the strategic development manager for the Office of the Provost and vice-president (academic), presented the next draft of the University Strategic Plan (USP) to council. The plan covers the next 10 years, Mardhani-Bayne said.

Raitz gave his inaugural address at the beginning of the meeting.

“I’m really looking forward to diving into the BoG work this year. I’ve started to do so by reviewing my platform and tying that to some actionable outcomes that I hope to achieve,” he said.

“I’m beginning to meet with BoG members themselves, to establish some of these relationships to get work done. I’m looking forward to collaborating with you all.”

Draft of the next University Strategic Plan presented, “umbrella for the next decade”

Mardhani-Bayne gave a presentation on the USP draft to council for feedback.

“It’s really our umbrella for the next decade. This is about setting up our goals and visions at the very highest level,” he said.

Consultations that happened in fall 2022 shaped the USP draft, according to Mardhani-Bayne. The university consulted with internal and external U of A communities through roundtable discussions, councils, and other forms of communication.

Mardhani-Bayne added that people are the “foundation of everything” that the U of A does, which the plan outlines.

“Our faculty, staff, and students are essential to our success. We can only succeed by fostering a culture and an experience that is engaged, inclusive, and creates conditions for everyone to thrive,” he said.

The USP draft has five commitments “embedded throughout the plan:” Indigenization and decolonization; Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI); sustainability; creativity; and collaboration.

“These commitments reflect how we work and how we accomplish our goals,” Mardhani-Bayne said.

There are three main pillars in the USP draft: “Education with Purpose,” “Research with Purpose,” and “Engagement with Purpose.”

“Education with Purpose” addresses how programs and teachings at the U of A will evolve through different strategies. These include hybrid-learning integration, experiential and work-integrated learning, a wider range of credentials and pathways into post-secondary education, commitments under the U of A Indigenous Strategic Plan “Braiding Past, Present, and Future,” and embracing EDI.

Additionally, the pillar addresses the opportunity for enrolment growth, Mardhani-Bayne said. He added that enrolment growth should be intentional and sustainable.

“We have to be able to use growth in ways that actually create access for underserved learners and Indigenous students. We have to acknowledge and value international students as part of that.”

The Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation (SPRI) shapes the “Research with Purpose” pillar. The SPRI “sets-up the vision for how we strengthen our research innovation climate as a whole university,” Mardhani-Bayne said.

He added that this vision emphasizes Indigenization, EDI, international partnerships, enhancing capacity and multidisciplinary collaboration, and increasing and supporting graduate and post-doctoral researchers.

The “Engagement with Purpose” pillar addresses key priorities that communities in Alberta and external stakeholders have identified. These priorities address the U of A’s “strong role in partnership with Indigenous, Francophone, and rural communities across Alberta,” Mardhani-Bayne said.

The pillar also focuses on making the U of A a stronger leader within the communities it serves. And, strengthening the relationships between industries and research. Additionally, it focuses on supporting community-based research and scholarly work.

“Community engagement is a stand-alone pillar, but it’s also intended to be woven throughout the education and research themes. Community building is fundamental to everything we do at the university, and that’s intended to come through,” Mardhani-Bayne said.

Afterwards, arts councillor Mason Pich asked if the USP draft addresses affordability for students.

Mardhani-Bayne replied that although the draft doesn’t “speak of affordability specifically,” it is “one of the key components of creating the kind of environment” where students can succeed.

Then, arts councillor Nathan Thiessen asked if the draft will include development strategies for infrastructure to meet demand from enrolment growth.

Mardhani-Bayne replied that “it’s going to be a critical component of conversations going forward.” Additionally, the existing Asset Management Strategy has to “iterate, continue to develop, and evolve,” he said.

Council appoints Ford to Physical Activity and Wellness Centre Strategic Operating Committee

Council appointed science councillor Laurel Ford to the Physical Activity and Wellness Centre Strategic Operating Committee (PAWSOC). One councillor seat remains open on this committee.

The Green and Gold Grant Adjudicator Committee oversees applications for the Green and Gold Student Leadership and Professional Development Grant. Council nominated six councillors, but all declined. As a result, there are two open councillor seats on this committee.

Consequently, council moved the nomination to the Council Administration Committee (CAC). CAC is the nomination subcommittee, and handles the administrative needs of council.

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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