By Ashar Memon, February 12 2018 —
The University of Calgary introduced its “strategic roadmap” for their Eyes High strategy at a town hall hosted in the Energy Environment Experiential Learning building on Feb. 8.
That roadmap comes in the form of the 2018 academic and research plans, which were approved by the General Faculties Council on Jan. 18. The two documents will replace the 2012–17 plans and are intended to guide the U of C’s academic and research decision making through 2023.
U of C president Elizabeth Cannon said the new plans are meant to explain how the U of C will reach the goals set out in its Eyes High strategy.
“The academic and research plans really underpin our Eyes High strategy and their three foundational commitments around teaching and learning, research and scholarship and community engagement,” Cannon said. “They speak to how we allocate our resources — our human capital and our financial resources.”
The development of the plans was led by provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall, as well as vice-president research Ed McCauley. Marshall said the plans are “bold” and include “game-changers” that will transform the institution. McCauley said the U of C will have to increase its research capacity to meet its goals.
The U of C began a consultation process with students, staff and faculty in June 2017 prior to developing the plan. Along with a review of current academic trends, a survey was conducted for just over three weeks and received about 2400 responses, according to the U of C.
“Some people filled out one question because that’s what they were really interested in. Other people filled out the entire questionnaire and as a result of that Ed [McCauley] and I had a rich database to work with,” Marshall said.
Marshall and McCauley also said the U of C will see the number of Program for Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) awards double.
“In all of our conversations across campus — with the faculties, with the student groups, with undergraduate and graduate students and so on — one of the points that were emphasized was that we needed more awards to support undergraduate research initiatives,” McCauley said.
Other funding announced during the town hall includes separate $1.5-million investments into the Indigenous Strategy launched in November 2017 and the mental health strategy introduced in the previous academic plan.
“Well, that kind of felt like Christmas morning,” Students’ Union president Branden Cave said. “With regards to the research plan, undergraduate research is one of the key experiential learning opportunities that allow students to take what they learn in the classroom and bring it into the real world.”
Marshall and McCauley announced that the U of C had invested roughly $500,000 into support for graduate studies in January 2018. They also announced that the university will continue to fund its Eyes High post-doctoral fellowship for a fourth round.
Graduate Students’ Association president Brit Paris said she is excited to see a clear connection between teaching, learning and research reflected in the plans.
“These are truly critical elements of our experience interwoven into everything we do and seeing it clearly reflected in these models will really prioritize the link for our students now and in the future,” she said.
The previous academic plans were drafted in 2012 for the original Eyes High strategy, which intended to make the U of C a top-five research university in Canada by 2016.
When the Gauntlet wrote about Eyes High in 2012, a method for evaluating the strategy’s success was still being determined. The town hall did not address what metrics or rankings will be used to evaluate the current strategy.
When asked about the challenges faced by the U of C in becoming a top-five research university, McCauley said, “[The school] can’t do everything, but [they] been involved in helping to prepare the plan. What we can do is align where we have capacity on discovery, on creativity, on innovation and where we can support the entrepreneurial initiatives for the province.”
McCauley added that the U of C is anticipating the 2018 federal budget regarding post-secondaries. The Toronto Star reported that the budget will see significant increases in science funding, citing government sources. The budget is expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.