Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
May 24, 2018
Local experts set university's goals in motion
Patrick Ryan, a consultant for talent development in Human Resources, says, "At the university, the goal of our business is to change the world. That’s a pretty good business to be part of every day."
Ryan, above, prioritizes people with the aim of helping them to reach their potential at the university. When he and his team facilitate workshops and other learning experiences for staff, he’s backed up by the Academic and Research Plans.
“The work that individuals do is important in itself, but it’s really helpful for us to understand how and why it is important from an organizational perspective and the bigger picture,” says Ryan, whose workday often takes him out and about the main campus. “The Academic and Research Plans break down the audacious goals in Eyes High and make them tangible and understandable.”
Ryan says when he and his team are presenting, say, a workshop on communication skills or effective team leadership, they get to be creative and collaborative while knowing they are part of a wider goal.
“We’re helping people to unlock their potential, whether they are researchers or doing other jobs,” he says. “It may not be me in the lab but the work I do enables other, important work to happen. At the university, the goal of our business is to change the world. That’s a pretty good business to be part of every day.”
He even translates his love of cooking into the work he does at the university, which requires staying current in the world of workplace learning.
“As much as there is a subjective element to cooking, just like at work, there is also a bit of science in getting results that are repeatable,” says Ryan. “We can see it in our work and we can see it in research, too. We all want to stumble upon new things and then be able to do it again.”
Sparking meaningful change with data
Scott Zimmer, manager, analytics and reporting in Development and Alumni Engagement, is part of a fast-paced department that is continuously learning and growing as it interprets data and connects communities.
Located just a short walk down the road from the main campus at the McMahon Stadium Olympic Volunteer Centre, he leads a team responsible for analyzing and reporting on gifts that donors have contributed to the university. The team works with colleagues in the Alumni Engagement area to examine alumni's interests and how to best connect with them.
A typical day for Zimmer, BA’99 Political Science, and his team involves working with various staff and other teams within the department to ensure they have the data they need for decision-making. They work in concert as part of the university’s $1.3-billion fundraising campaign, Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High. The Academic and Research Plans are threaded invisibly into his workday.
“The plans are now woven together in an integrated model,” he says. “At the centre of this model is student experience and impact. Many of the gifts that the university receives from generous donors through the Energize campaign go directly to support these initiatives.”
The gifts that supporters provide contribute directly to high-quality academic and research opportunities, he says. They support student scholarships and bursaries, research chairs and professorships, research programs, capital projects, and many other initiatives.
“Driving innovation is a key aspect of the plans, and I, too, want to ensure the work that my team undertakes is curiosity-driven and advances our practice,” says Zimmer.
Zimmer’s family has strong roots in the university. His wife, Melanie, is a UCalgary alumna and partnerships officer at the university. They’ve taken their children skating at the Oval and registered them in UCalgary summer camps. The couple even met at UCalgary’s Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship club while students.
“I am continually impressed with how this institution cares about and invests in our students, staff and faculty,” he says. “I want to ensure that my team and I are giving back go the university in the same way.”
About UCalgary's Academic and Research Plans
Students, faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars at the University of Calgary move us forward every day in the work they do supporting our Eyes High Strategy 2017-2022. People in the Plans, a series appearing in UToday, explores how our people drive the success of the renewed Academic and Research Plans — the road maps to Eyes High.
The refreshed Academic and Research Plans are based on an integrated model, one that acknowledges the connection between teaching, learning and research. Each plan has three priorities with identified major goals and strategies. Both plans are connected through the value propositions of student experience and impact, and share a common priority of driving innovation. The five priorities included in the Academic and Research Plans will drive human, capital and financial resource allocations over the next five years at the university.