We are one of Canada’s youngest top research universities and the number-one startup creator among Canadian research institutions. What is next? How do we look beyond tomorrow?
The University of Calgary’s remarkable trajectory reflects audacious growth and entrepreneurial spirit. Our students, faculty, staff, and community have built a bold university in less than 60 years.
“Our new strategic plan, Ahead of Tomorrow, articulates the values, goals, purpose and strategic approaches that will guide us through the next seven years,” says President Ed McCauley. “The development of this plan reflects the collaborative nature and entrepreneurial spirt of our communities, and we are excited about where we are going next.”
In September 2022, we embarked on our latest journey in developing UCalgary’s next strategic plan. After significant planning, extensive community consultation, thorough analysis and numerous drafts, the final proposal was moved through the university's governance process, culminating with final approval from the Board of Governors on June 23.
The strategic plan will come into effect July 1, 2023, and shapes our journey toward 2030 and continues our long-term, foundational commitments to: Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility; Indigenous Engagement; Mental Health; Global Engagement; and Sustainability.
“The level of participation by our students, faculty, staff and larger community in the shaping of this plan has been outstanding,” says Penny Werthner, interim provost and vice-president (academic). “We are so appreciative of everyone engaged in the strategic planning process and we look forward to continued engagement as we begin the important work of implementation of the plan.”
Engaging our community
A key part of the strategic planning process involved connecting with our community members and gathering feedback.
“This was very much a process of engagement. We wanted to be sure that everyone at the university and in our communities feels a part of our strategic plan, and how amazing we hope to be in the year 2030,” says Dr. Aritha van Herk, PhD, a professor in the Faculty of Arts, and a member of the Strategic Planning Working Group. “The feedback we collected has been invaluable.”
From November to April 2022, more than 23,000 people participated in community consultations which included online surveys, workshops, email submissions and focus groups.
Dr. Mohammad Keyhani, PhD, associate professor in the Haskayne School of Business, and Dr. Adam Pidlisecky, PhD, associate professor in the Faculty of Science, have also been part of the Strategic Planning Working Group, and an important part of the community consultation process.
“One of the themes that emerged from the workshops and interviews was a desire to be ahead of the change that is happening in our society,” says Keyhani. “There is a lot of anxiety because of the uncertainty, and people want the university to be a thought leader, or a pillar to cling onto in this time of uncertainty.”
Another common theme that was discussed centred around focusing in on being Canada’s entrepreneurial university.
“If people think of an entrepreneur as a businessperson, not everyone aligns with that,” says Pidlisecky. “But if we start to talk about entrepreneurs as people who are taking ideas and mobilizing knowledge to have impact, we start to see the undercurrent of people who can identify with that.”
Keyhani says we have a head start in being an entrepreneurial university. “Our challenge is in figuring out how to be an entrepreneurial university in an ethical way, in a good way, and in an inclusive way. If we are going to enjoy the success of positioning ourselves this way, how do we do it the right way?”
Powering positive change
What is clear is that people want UCalgary to be a place where students, faculty and staff take action to improve the world around us. And to reach that goal, four core strategies have emerged:
- Increase access to impactful and future-focused education
- Harness the power of research and innovation to tackle society’s biggest challenges
- Locate community at the centre of all we do
- Make our processes clearer, simpler, and better than any other university
“We’ve got people throughout the organization who have really great insights as to how we can make the university operate better,” says Pidlisecky. “So hopefully this becomes an invitation for people to share their ideas and be part of realizing this strategic plan.”
We face universal challenges. But we are confident we can achieve global impact while remaining true to our Calgary community and values.
Ahead of Tomorrow takes effect on July 1, with implementation plans being developed in consultation with university communities over the summer. The plan will be formally launched in the fall semester.
To learn more about the strategic plan, visit our website.