Development process

Waterloo’s 2020-2025 strategic planning process was grounded in a community engagement approach and built on evidence.

As Waterloo's 2013-2018 strategic plan began drawing to a close, Waterloo stakeholders began to work on developing the next strategic plan. University leadership endorsed a strategic plan development framework that ensured that the new strategic plan was built on evidence, used a robust consultation process, and engaged stakeholders throughout the process.


The plan was led by the Strategic Plan Advisory Committee (SPAC) and chaired by the Vice President Academic and Provost. The committee was comprised of Waterloo’s Faculty deans, vice-presidents, the president of the Alumni Association, and one appointed and one elected representative of each of the student, staff, and faculty associations. The committee and its' members ensured the process was transparent and optimized the relevance and value of the plan for Waterloo’s diverse stakeholder groups.


SPAC led a process to develop and gather evidence to inform stakeholder input, generate ideas, and explore new concepts. Evidence included:

Approach and actions

  • Created a Strategic Plan Advisory Committee (SPAC) that was led led by the Provost and Vice-President Academic
  • Members included:
    • Elected members from each of Waterloo's primary constituencies: undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff
    • Representatives from Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, Graduate Students Association, University of Waterloo Staff Association, Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, Waterloo Alumni Association
    • Faculty Deans
    • Executive Committee (EC) members
Evidence collection
  • SPAC membership identified priority topics to inform the development of the strategic plan
  • Seven issue paper teams were created with more than 150 members including undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, and alumni
  • Issue papers were completed in May 2018
  • Other evidence collected included
    • 2013-2018 Strategic Plan Outcomes Report [pdf download, login required]
    • Submissions from stakeholders
    • Environmental scans on priority issues in the sector
    • Solicited reports on key topics including research
Consultation process
  • The president and the provost personally attended and led 36 face-to-face consultations across campus
  • More than 800 students, staff, alumni, and members of the Board of Governors participated between September and November 2018
  • Consultations were focused on specific stakeholder groups (undergraduate students, graduate students, international students, faculty, staff, alumni, Board of Governors) and each of the issue paper topics (empowering people, internationalization, graduate studies, leveraging resources, research, undergraduate student experience) 
  • Evidence was made available for participants to review prior to the sessions
  • Online survey was developed to solicit more input on Waterloo's vision and values, as well as issues of priority importance
  • Received more than 2,000 online survey responses
Analysis of data collected
  • Building on data from the evidence and consultations, Waterloo staff identified 79 priority statements. SPAC reviewed and sorted priority statements into preliminary "action areas"
  • SPAC, Deans, and Executive Council participated in a concept mapping process to further group and prioritize the statements into three themes with thirty goal statements 
  • Waterloo staff used the goal statements to create goals and objectives. Goals and objectives were reviewed and revised by experts in each of the areas and by university leadership to ensure they were appropriate, relevant, and reflected what they heard from Waterloo's stakeholders throughout the process