Proposed plan highlights research strengths and potential 

By Karen Herland

After nearly a year of consultation, the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies is finalizing a Strategic Research Plan intended to carry us forward to 2012.

Louise Dandurand Magnifying glass

Louise Dandurand

"We want this to be a living document, a way to reflect the excellence of initiatives in the university, and what is emerging," explained Louise Dandurand, Vice-President of Research and Graduate Studies.

Concordia's research revenues doubled between 2001 and 2005 and have remained steady at $30 million annually from provincial and federal sources. Private research funds have increased by 154% since 2001. Recently, we have seen a 120% increase in funds from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research giving us the highest national success rate for any university without a medical school.

The last research plan we had was produced in 2004. Dandurand explained that major granting agencies, like the Canada Research Chairs Program and CFI, use such plans to evaluate where a university is headed.

"These funders want to know that a university is capable of making strategic decisions," said Dandurand, adding that, although the plan is directed to specific agencies, all provincial and federal funding bodies "have these reports on their radar screens."

The proposal emerged from initial mappings of the Concordia research scene that were further validated and expanded following several discussions with the associate deans of research of each faculty and integration of the Senate Research Committee Members’ feedback.

Certain decisions were made during that process. "We wanted to move away from a strategic plan that was organized Faculty-by-Faculty and discipline-by-discipline and reflect an interdisciplinary approach to addressing problems," said Dandurand. "Someone in engineering may be studying wind, but they would need to consider the economic or social impact of their work."

In the end, the plan identifies two main clusters, one The Person in Society and the other Technology, Industry and the Environment. Each of these has a trio of subsections, which are again subdivided. The distinctions were mapped out to reflect both where we have already demonstrated leadership and areas we hope to expand and reinforce in the future.

Dandurand said that the document is also intended to reflect Concordia's uniqueness. "Every university is looking at environmental concerns and energy conservation. It's the angles that are specific.

"We have a grounding in the community and our research is influenced by its relevance and its interconnection with society."

Having presented this document to the Senate Research Committee twice, as well as the four Faculty Councils and the Council of the School of Graduate Studies, Dandurand was waiting for final comments from these bodies before submitting her plan to Senate in October.

She points out that such a document could not possibly reflect everyone's research interests. Similarly, just because a particular field is not represented, that does not mean that no one would be hired in that area, nor would seed funding or event funding be refused. "This is not a limited and closed blueprint, it will inspire some resource allocation, but not all." This document is meant to be a catalyst and to feed discussion on the larger university Strategic Plan.

Dandurand also sees the plan providing direction on possible collaborations with other institutions in the future.


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