New alumni take on the world: June in review

I never get tired of Convocation.

Seeing our graduands cross the stage and getting the chance to speak with many of them is a perennial pleasure. It’s incredible what you hear. “I’m starting my own company,” is something our grads tell us more and more frequently. Some are going on to further studies, others have travel lined up, and many are making the transition to the workforce.

During Convocation this June, I again took a moment to step back and observe. At these ceremonies our entire community rallies around a special purpose: to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates, and witness the renewal of our mission as an institution of higher learning.

It made me think of the importance of strengthening the ties that bind us together as a community, and of doing an even better job at keeping in touch.

So for the summer months, I am going to contribute a month-end message to our Daily Bulletin in lieu of more formal memoranda that I previously sent out on a quarterly basis. I feel it might be a good way to catch you up on my activities, keep our many institutional initiatives in broad strategic perspective, and take a little more time to celebrate this institution as not only a school, but as a community – of students, faculty, staff, alumni and retirees.

In fact, I’d love to know what you think. Feel welcome to send me your feedback on these columns – including what you’d like to hear more about – at president@uwaterloo.ca. I promise to read each and every message, even if I can’t respond to all of them.

Thinking about our community as a whole, and the kind of future we’re trying to build for it, our new Strategic Plan is absolutely central to our efforts, day-in and day-out. It’s been my main focus over the last several  months, and is currently moving through the formal approval process with our Board of Governors. Those of you who made it out to one of the two Town Halls we hosted in May will be familiar with the plan.

As you know, this document is meant to guide the university during the next five years, and position the university for what you might call “reputational differentiation”.  Enhancing our experiential and entrepreneurial platforms and activities will be key to setting us apart in an increasingly competitive and globalizing sector. Equally, the plan is meant to ensure we guard and enhance the basic principles at the heart of great academic institutions: academic excellence, research, strong values, student success, global mindedness and positive, productive employer-staff relationships.

It’s an important job, building and implementing a Strategic Plan, which many of you know from your personal involvement in the Mid-cycle Review process. Your participation has made all the difference and I am sincerely grateful for your contribution. While it has taken many months of planning to get to this stage, seeing those grads cross the stage at convocation makes it all worthwhile.

Thanks for your active participation and valueable contributions to the university. Thanks also for reading this inaugural message to campus, and I’ll look for that feedback. For those of you heading on vacation in July, please enjoy yourselves and be safe.

For those of you – hopefully most – coming to our Canada Day celebrations on Monday, I’ll see you there!

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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