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Project Next requests feedback

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A new University of Calgary initiative is hoping to get student and staff feedback to push the school up a notch.

Project Next will develop a strategy and major direction for the university that Haskayne professor Jim Dewald called "totally an effective way to get people engaged in their organization."

The project is an attempt by the U of C to create a vision and goals for the future, specifically for the school's upcoming 50th anniversary in 2016.

"The core of Project Next is a very active and inclusive participation program for all the campus community," said Dewald, who helped create the workshops used to garner feedback.

The two-and-a-half-hour sessions will see students, staff and other stakeholders looking at reasons people choose to enroll at and work at the U of C and how the school can be made a more desirable place.

"I'm really excited about the workshops and the engagement through that," said Dewald. "We've run a bunch of pilot ones and people get very excited, engaged and don't really want to leave the room. They leave lots of comments, lots of thoughts."

Dewald said driving forces to take on the project include fiscal pressures, changing technologies and emerging skills and fields taught to students.

Students' Union president Lauren Webber sits on the steering committee and said the project will pave the way for new U of C president Elizabeth Cannon's legacy over the next five to 10 years.

"It's really great to actually be involved," said Webber. "I think that it's cool that students get to take part and really give their feedback."

Once the information is collected, it will be compiled by a steering committee, which includes undergraduate and graduate students, to create a strategy statement for the U of C. Dewald describes the statement as one that sets a direction for the university going forward.

"Why do people really choose to come here and what can we do to make it more appealing and more attractive?" said Dewald. "I'd like to encourage everybody to participate, be a part of it. If we're oversubscribed then we'll add some more workshops but we want to hear from everybody on campus."

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