Welcome back to campus and a new decade of impact

Monday, January 6, 2020
by Feridun Hamdullahpur

Waterloo in Winter Term

Welcome back to every member of the University of Waterloo community. After a nice break full of celebration and rest, we are back for a new exciting year, a new term and a new decade for our institution and with it countless possibilities. And, we are ready for it!

The University of Waterloo has pushed against convention and tradition for more than 60 years and has carved a path of progress, discovery and creation few other institutions in the world can match. I know that it is easy to talk about progress and impact as so many other universities do, but we have data to back it up.

Making an impact locally and globally

We have already read and seen numerous articles and opinion pieces regarding what 2020 will bring from the economy to society and technology. While some predictions may come to fruition, talent and knowledge will continue to rise as seen by the University’s recently released an Economic Impact Study through the independent research and development of Deloitte. This report is a testament to how our institution is building a more prosperous community and country.

The report takes a unique look at our economic impact and contributions at the local, regional and national levels. For the first time, it also looks at the economic impact of our world-renown co-op program and entrepreneurship efforts.

The report found that the positive benefits of our co-operative education program go well beyond the experience and earnings that our students gain. Co-op employers on average earn $2 for every $1 invested through the impacts of students during their work terms. It also discovered that our entrepreneurship efforts have created more than 7,500 jobs with revenues of more than $2.3 billion over the past decade. These are just a few of the findings in the report and I strongly recommend reading the findings. It tells a story of impact across our institution as we look forward to doing even more.

New Strategic Plan released

Guiding us forward will be our newly launched strategic plan – Connecting Imagination with Impact. Our community came together over more than 30 consultation sessions, reaching thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni in developing OUR plan.

We are a unique institution with a history of doing things differently. This new plan will take us into 2020 to 2025 and guide our journey based on three themes for impact:

  • Developing talent for a complex future
  • Advancing research for global impact
  • Strengthening sustainable and diverse communities

Each of these themes are equally important as one cannot be successful without the other. With seven signature commitments that encapsulate our bold vision over the next five years, we are dedicated to making sure we have the plan, targets and accountability process in place to ensure we are making the progress we need to navigate Waterloo through a disruptive future.

The CIF Field House

It's also important to mention that with the cold weather now firmly blanketing our campus to please come out and stay connected with campus. The cold, winter days force us indoors for much of our Winter terms at Waterloo but staying active and connected with your community brings so much needed energy and activity to us all.

The new Field House in the north part of campus is open to students, staff and faculty alike to meet up and escape the cold together. The winter months can be especially hard on those going through mental health and wellness challenges and I want everyone to know that you are not alone. We are a community that cares and through the work of Campus Wellness, the Wellness Collaborative and our entire University, we continue to make strides in ending the stigma of mental health and build solutions that bring us all closer.

To our returning students, I offer good luck and well wishes for a productive term of learning. As I have reiterated many times, it is all about your well-being, success and developing your potential. To our faculty and researchers, I wish you a wonderful year of discovery and guiding the young minds on our campus. To our dedicated staff, I wish you the best as you continue to enable our university – its faculty, students and alumni – to thrive.

Thank you for a wonderful 2019 and I can’t wait for what is to come in 2020.