End of term, end of summer: August in review

In a few short days, our university will be at its most vital and exciting, as new and returning members of our community join us on campus.

It’s the kind of energy I thrive on, and from chatting with many of you, I know that you feel the same way. To all of you – student leaders, staff members, and faculty representatives – on campus who assist with Orientation and supporting our new students, my sincere thanks and best wishes for a wonderful September.

The last month has been very productive on my end. I was joined by our Provost, Geoff McBoyle, in attending a total of four roundtables sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, on subjects including: Differentiation and Strategic Mandate Agreements; Online Learning; Credit Transfer; and Graduate Space Allocation.  These discussions took place to try and strengthen awareness about the opportunities and challenges in these specific areas, and to enable our government partners to develop strong policy to advance them along. The talks were very productive and we anticipate solid progress to flow from them. I will keep you updated.

In late July and into early August, our Associate Vice-President, International, Nello Angerilli, joined me in a delegation to Australia which included our colleagues from Western University and the University of Toronto.  We met with counterparts and stakeholders in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to discuss high-level research collaboration between Canadian and Australian universities.

On behalf of Waterloo, I concluded and signed an extension of Waterloo’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Australia’s Monash University, a member of Australia’s prestigious G8 grouping of research-intensive universities and a well-renowned innovation university.

International research partnerships, like our ongoing relationship with Monash U, are key to developing Waterloo’s global profile and to growing our already significant research impact.

This month I also attended a meeting of U15 executive heads in Quebec City. (The U15 is an association of Canada’s top research-intensive universities, of which Waterloo is a member.) The Quebec City meeting centred upon our goals of seeing a new Research Excellence Fund included in the next federal budget, and the overarching need to strengthen the government’s Indirect Cost of Research program. The U15 meeting was an important step in strengthening the voice of research-intensive universities in Canada, so that we can communicate strongly and persuasively in Ottawa and in the provinces.

At the meeting we were joined by the Honourable Christian Paradis, who serves as Minister of International Development in the federal government. Maintaining close and open communication with the Government of Canada is essential for research-intensive universities, since much of our contribution to the country – especially our research impact, partnerships, and funding – hinges upon federal-level public policy. Check out the U15 website, which Waterloo staff members helped build, to learn more about this important group.

The highlight for August was the final approval of our Strategic Plan by the university’s Board of Governors on the 28th. Our new Strategic Plan – which we have shepherded from consultation, to goal development, to endorsement by the Senate and the Board of Governors – is our community’s roadmap for ongoing success in a rapidly globalizing, highly competitive post-secondary education sector. PDFs of the Strategic Plan and the Strategic Plan Executive Summary are available on the Strategic Plan website.

Thanks to each and every one of you – and there are many – who contributed to the Strategic Plan, and who have important roles to play in implementing it.

With the plan now approved, we are immediately turning to implementation and measurement, which are coequally important to the plan itself. We have identified team leaders for each of the three differentiating strengths (experiential learning, entrepreneurship, and research) as well as the five foundational strengths. They will be responsible for assembling teams to track and report on progress, and keep the momentum going for each of our strengths.

And we are also taking forward steps to update the university’s visual identity – to build on the momentum of the Strategic Plan and continue moving forward with our bold vision for Waterloo as a rising, world-class innovation university. More on this from me next week.

Let me close by offering my best wishes as we embark upon a new academic year, and please stop me and say hi if you see me at Orientation and Reunion events next month.

And remember: I welcome your feedback on these updates – get in touch with me at president@uwaterloo.ca. Let me know what you think about the format, the items covered, and any changes you think would be beneficial. I promise to read each message, even if I can’t respond to all of them!

Sincerely,

FH

Note to readers: from June, 2013 through 2015, the president’s monthly review was published in the Daily Bulletin, where this piece originally ran. As of January 2016, monthly reviews are published directly to this blog.

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