Retreat fuels strategic action 

By Laurie Zack

Concordia’s Reaching Up Reaching Out strategic framework, adopted by the Board last June, includes over thirty proposed actions to fuel concrete change. The framework also outlines implementation plans for the academic, financial, human resources and infrastructure goals. More is on the way.

Work has already begun in many sectors, and grass-roots initiatives such as the sharing of teaching expertise and new support for groundbreaking research, the development of a student centre project, the reinforcement of student support and retention initiatives and the development and execution of a comprehensive fundraising campaign are being implemented to support the framework’s objectives.

On Aug. 31, 42 Concordians from across the university came together to present, debate and adopt a number of additional concrete actions to begin immediately–while mid- to long-term implementation plans are being made.

“Over the summer months many members of our community began looking at ways that their departments, units or sectors could advance our strategic directions,” said President Judith Woodsworth. “The goal of this gathering was to review and discuss these great ideas, to share them across all sectors, and to ‘green-light’ a number of them for immediate implementation.”

This was the spirit that animated this cross-sector group.

Proposed actions are wide in scope but are do-able within a reasonable time frame (up to one year for more major initiatives). Some proposals are relatively straight forward, involve coordination between multiple areas and can lead to future action. For example, Concordia will immediately begin promoting its experts on hot issues in the media, reinforcing our use and coordination of new social media across the university pursuing professional development opportunities for staff and creating a comprehensive database of university researcher/creators and their exciting projects.

Others are more complex and involve a wider mobilization of resources and expertise such as: adopting comprehensive multi-year institutional budgeting; updating and implementing academic and administrative policies, procedures and guidelines; and implementing content management systems to aggregate and distribute accurate, consistent information across the university’s many websites.

Several projects address the student experience. These range from reinforcing the “small-class experience” at Concordia, to improving student support services and support for frontline staff, to setting up work areas for students outside the library and creating a portal report to better support student retention and success.

“We look at these proposed actions as if wearing bifocals,” explained Woodsworth. “We have to use our distance lenses to clearly see our long-term objectives and our reading lenses to identify the short-term actions that will allow us to move towards these long term goals.” She also cautioned that adopting a priority list does not mean that all other projects fall by the wayside. Many important projects are already underway or will be soon undertaken, led by one university sector, often in cooperation with several other units. Others will be undertaken in a second implementation stage.

A fund of $642 000 has been set aside for action plan projects, including a $142 000 pool for student support put aside through the waiving of senior administration salary increases and cost of living adjustments for the year and augmented by savings achieved in the President’s office. Actions that received the go-ahead at the retreat may submit requests for funding or for matching funds.

In the weeks to come, more details will be posted on the strategic planning website. We will also be looking at some of the major projects in more depth in the pages of the Journal and online.

“The work at this retreat was very encouraging,” summarized Woodsworth. “We’ve met our objective of adopting action items that complement work already underway. I encourage everyone to get involved as we work together across the university to realize our strategic objectives.”


Concordia University