Concordia to transform itself
In 2005, the university welcomed Provost Martin Singer’s Moving Ahead, aimed at making Concordia “Canada’s university for the 21st century.”
Now there must be a strategy to determine how its goals will be achieved. The President is setting into motion a process for Concordia to begin to transform itself.
A strategic planning process was launched this summer by the President’s Executive Group. Benchmarks were established through the analysis of data from leading universities and best practices in the public and private sector around the world. An expert assessment was made of the market available to Concordia, and its ever-active competitors.
“We have a rich source of background material, but the challenge will be to apply it creatively to our Concordia reality,” said the President’s Chief of Staff Guy Dumas. “This strategic initiative will be successful to the extent that we get the active input of the internal Concordia community and involve the expertise of our outside volunteers. We want your ideas for Concordia’s future!”
Over the next few weeks, every full- and part-time faculty member will receive an invitation to participate in an online survey about the university’s strategic direction. Staff will also be surveyed.
Working groups are being established to focus on specific challenges presented by the academic plan. The three immediate challenges have been identified as international expansion, distance learning and human resources. The groups will be co-chaired by volunteer friends of the university who have experience in the specific fields under examination, and will include faculty representatives and in-house experts. As the strategic process unfolds, implementation teams will undertake detailed planning.
President Lajeunesse said in an interview that he knows the goals set out in Moving Ahead are ambitious, particularly in a climate of financial constraints, but the University must keep its eye on the future. “I don’t believe in radical changes as far as universities are concerned,’’ he said.
“The role of the university is to prepare graduates to be good citizens and to have successful careers over the next 30 to 40 years. Our role is not to respond to short-term market needs.
“Concordia must look at how best to develop its international presence in education and research. Our strategic planning exercise will identify how best to capitalize on our very diverse student and faculty population to develop our markets abroad and to link our education and research activities with universities around the world.
“We will also look at how to maximize the use of distance education at home and abroad. Indeed, new developments in this area allow Concordia to improve the quality and the accessibility of its programs to students here at home and around the world either in regular course offerings or through distance education.
“Finally, human resources remain at the heart of our ability to compete as an institution of higher learning. Our challenge is to recruit, support and keep outstanding people with financial resources that can be 30 per cent below our competitors in Ontario, and elsewhere. That is a major challenge for all of us.’’
The deans of our faculties recognize and participate in the strategic planning process, he said, and the whole Concordia community will be kept informed and consulted as the project moves forward over the next six months.