Our Community’s Thoughts on VIU’s Strengths

Strategic Plan

June 8, 2020 - 7:00am

By Alison Van Rooy, Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning and Institutional Initiatives

In this article, I’d like to give an update to the VIU community about the progress so far in our engagement around The Future We Want to See, the conversation to help VIU craft its new strategic plan.

What has happened so far? Since early March, and with thanks to the enthusiasm of the VIU community, some 700 people have participated in information sessions, World Cafés, interviews, workshops, emails, and survey responses. Of those, 118 are students, 490 are employees, and 107 are from the community (including high school students). Messages have gone out to all our students and employees, as well as 8,000+ alumni, and this month, messages will go out to our wider community off-campus to invite their stories, too.

Since mid-March, our strategic planning discussions – like all our conversations – moved to online. I don’t know if everyone shares this experience, but these have been much more successful than I expected: I like being able to see everyone around the Zoom table, I like the more deliberate way we take turns, and I like the ability to record thoughts in the chat box as we share ideas. Of course, personal stories and personal vision are always better shared in person, but this vehicle has been the next best thing.

A good part of the past month has been focused on analysis of the first round of input. That data was added to other resources: the annual student surveys of BC universities, for example, the input gathered at VIU from previous consultations (Student Affairs, People Plan, Academic Plan, etc.), research and data analysis by our own Office of University Planning and Analysis (OUPA) and much more – more than 150 sources in all so far, and more coming in every day. Nvivo (software to organize qualitative data) has been put to use to identify themes in our stories – 97 categories and counting. VIU’s students and employees have weighed in on the breadth of our services, programs, policies and people. It has been inspiring to read.

I hope soon to be able to reflect back to the VIU family the strengths you have underlined and the vision you have for making VIU an even more remarkable place. VIU’s strengths will form the backbone of our plan for the future.

VIU strengths

VIU’s small class sizes helped me make my decision regarding which university to attend because I didn’t just want to be a number. I cared about building a relationship with my professors and learning in a comfortable environment where I was not afraid to ask questions or share my opinions – alum Alexis Gardner, Nanaimo

I just want to acknowledge that although VIU is small, it truly is a community. My time at VIU was full of a lot of personal struggle, but I truly feel if I was at any other school, I would not have been given the support I was by VIU. VIU was a family to me, they were a home away from home. I am very grateful for my time and experiences spent at VIU and I highly encourage all students to attend this great facility – alum Kaitlyn Lee, Nanaimo

In the meantime, we welcome you to continue to participate. If you haven’t had a chance to share your stories about what VIU does best and your vision for the future, there is still time: we are hoping to round out this phase of the conversation by the end of June. While there will be many more opportunities to weigh in over the autumn, this is a great time to contribute before pen is put to paper to prepare the first draft of the Strategic Plan for your review.

Here are some ways to make your voice heard:

  • Teams can hold their own one-hour virtual discussions using this conversation kit to share their ideas.
  • Teams can join me in a facilitated one-hour zoom workshop. Contact me directly at Alison.VanRooy@viu.ca.
  • For those who might not have the time for a workshop, thoughts can be shared through the online questionnaire.
  • For those with even less time, emails are always welcome at strategic-planning@viu.ca, perhaps the easiest way to participate.

Please continue to be involved. Your voice, and your vision, matters!

Tags: In the Community