President launches open consultations 

By Karen Herland

President Woodsworth meets international students Magnifying glass

President Woodsworth meets international students

Judith Woodsworth is back at Concordia, a familiar place given the nearly two decades she spent here. But, now as president, she is hoping to build on the strengths that make Concordia unique.

"I would like us to be recognized more widely for our achievements, " Woodsworth said. She sees getting there as a participatory process that she is eager to start. "I don't want to 'run' the university in an autocratic way. I will be at the helm, leading a process."

Towards that end, she wants to involve all sectors of the university in the inter-related mandates she has been given by the Board of Governors.

"My homework is to finish the strategic planning process that is already underway, launch a comprehensive capital campaign and balance the budget," she said of the Board's expectations for her first year.

"In my opinion, we need to have a clear direction to be able to distinguish ourselves." The strategic plan, to be approved by the Board next June, is a priority. Having the plan in place will also facilitate decisions about resource allocation.

A multi-level consultation process will allow students, staff and faculty a chance to add their two cents on everything from spending priorities to community engagement. Open consultations with Woodsworth and the Executive Group will be combined with world cafés. The latter are semi-directed opportunities for members of the community to discuss key issues together around a table while a note-taker records the discussion.

In addition to these events, opportunities for online responses and dates for later discussions will be posted on the strategic planning website.

"One of our priorities is to ensure that we are serving our students in the best possible way. From the minute they ask for information about a Concordia program we want to get them here, keep them, and provide them with an enriching experience so they remain connected as alumni."

Having been away from Montreal for a little over a decade, Woodsworth is struck by Concordia's growth.

"There is new space, and wonderful potential," said Woodsworth, who recognizes the importance of faculty renewal in recent years. "Concordia is drawing its faculty from across the country and around the world. And they are coming with innovative ideas and research programs that enrich teaching."

Woodsworth sees increased emphasis on graduate studies in the coming years. "The MA is the old BA," she said of changing workplace expectations. Supporting students, at both the graduate and the undergraduate levels, is increasingly important.

"Donors are sensitive to those needs," she said, noting the success of the adopt-a-student program.

As for the deficit, ways to decrease spending without affecting the academic mission of the university are being explored. Woodsworth joins her peers at CREPUQ in working with all levels of government to increase funding for universities, but she is also realistic in seeking ways to cut costs.

She is aware that cutting costs has an impact on all members of the Concordia community. Once the strategic plan has been discussed, and the writing stage begins in the winter semester, she hopes to open up other opportunities to air concerns.

"I'd like to hold three presidential panels," she said. "One would be on the student experience, one on community engagement and one on employee relations at the university." She recognizes that that last subject will generate some debate, "but it's certainly something I would like to address. It is important to give people an opportunity to air their concerns and to foster good relations."

Meanwhile, she has a busy schedule attending events, addressing new students and faculty, getting to know people in every sector of the university. But she urges members of the community not to wait for a formal introduction: "Stop me when you see me, or write to me at" Meanwhile, find out more about the path that led Woodsworth back to Concordia, and keep informed about her activities at

Strategic Planning Open Consultations
Oct. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the DB Clarke Theatre
Oct. 23 in Hingston Hall, HB-130 from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

World Cafés

Nov. 11 in the LB Atrium from 3 to 5 p.m.
Nov. 12 in the CJ Atrium at 3 to 5 p.m.

You can find updates and further details very soon at


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