Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω
After a semester of consultations, TRU’s first draft of its new priorities has been released.
Over the last four months, seven town hall meetings and two surveys have influenced the 35-person strategic priorities committee in the drafting of five priorities that will guide the university’s goals over the next five years:
(1) Building student success through experiential learning opportunities, flexible delivery models for programs and supporting success in transitions between high school and university and work and university.
(2) Building intercultural understanding through the indigenization and internationalization of campuses and recognition of uniqueness of Canadian society through Canada-based teaching.
(3) Building research capacity by prioritizing activities that develop a capacity to conduct scholarly research through program innovation, expertise of faculty and partnerships with industry.
(4) Building entrepreneurial capacity by prioritizing entrepreneurial collaboration that mutually benefits the university and the community through innovative practices, industry partnerships and career development opportunities for students, faculty and staff.
(5) Building sustainability financially, economically, culturally, creatively and environmentally.
Town hall meetings at TRU on Jan. 16 and at NorKam Secondary on Jan. 17 invited participants to review and discuss the priorities and then brainstorm how they could be implemented and what would constitute success.
“It isn’t prescriptive,” TRU president Alan Shaver said. “We aren’t telling people here is a priority here’s how you are going to do it. We are saying here are the priorities we think will make a difference to a lot of different things at TRU. Get together and come up with an idea so we can go with this.”
Shaver said he sees these priorities leading TRU to be Canada’s first modern university, one that doesn’t have to be everything to everyone but is strategic about what it offers.
“I think it’s a more directed and focused approach,” he said of the draft. “I think the 2007 priorities did a good job of developing what I’d call big picture and many of those things are just as relevant today as they were back then. Some we think needed to be changed.”
Around 75 people, mostly faculty and administration, gathered on Jan. 16 to review the priorities. There was discussion of increased student research, more culturally inclusive orientations, increased advisory for students, more community involvement and increased student research.
“Certainly there is an opportunity to become more entrepreneurial, but always keeping our eye on that balance of the mission of the university. It’s not a business,” Susan Duncan, associate professor in nursing, said. “However, we can be strategic in finding other sources of funding through what we offer and bring that revenue back in to support students and what we do as a university.”
TRU director of advancement Karen Gamracy said her table’s discussion on sustainability drew a concern for the ability of students to plan funding for their university career and whether a single letter grade for international students is a socially sustainable recognition.
“There were some good points from the international students at the table. They had an interesting take on the social part of it,” she said.
The strategic priorities committee will review the input again before the final draft is solidified in February.
“We agree on the priorities, but it has to be done by people, students faculty and staff,” said Shaver. “We really have to tap into that creative genius and get them to come forward with stuff. And then the challenge for the senior administration is to make sure we can invest in it and get something done.”