The Strategic Plan: Making it a reality

Strategic Plan cover

November 10, 2021 - 10:15am

Now that the Strategic Plan, People, Place, Potential has launched, we wanted to get the perspectives of senior leaders on what the plan means for VIU.

Over the next few issues of VIU Voices, we will share interviews with the members of the Senior Management Team who will explain how it affects their areas and the Foundation Plans that will be supporting the commitments embedded in the Strategic Plan.

The first article features Dr. Carol Stuart, Provost and Vice-President Academic. She shared six things about the plan, including how it has provided new structure for the institution, why that matters and how academic activities will be shaped by it.

1)     The Strategic Plan and the Academic Plan

Carol Stuart:

The Strategic Plan is designed to be a high-level document that lays out six commitments that will be woven throughout everything we do. As a reminder these commitments are as follows:

  • Welcome a larger and more diverse population of learners.
  • Become a more inclusive and healthier place for work and study.
  • Grow to be the region’s hub for research and expertise.
  • Build stronger partnerships with Indigenous communities.
  • Become a leader in learning for new generations.
  • Expand life-enriching and career-building experiences.

The Strategic Plan will be supported by six Foundation Plans that will describe how these commitments translate to specific goals and strategies for achieving the goals and thereby the commitments of the strategic plan. Like the Strategic Plan, each foundation plan should have a timeline that ends in 2026. For my area, this means the new Academic Plan of course. As many know, the Academic Plan has had an integral place at VIU for many years and is reported on annually to Senate. The new Academic Plan is currently in the development and review process.

2)     The new Academic Plan

Carol Stuart:

Following on from the process used to create the Strategic Plan, a broad-based consultation is in process to develop the new Academic Plan. The Ethelo platform was recently used as a forum for comments on the Goals and Objectives of the plan. People were invited to vote and rank initiatives within the draft plan to ensure it captures what our community believes are the most important aspects of our academic programing at VIU. The six goals outlined each have two to five measurable objectives, so it is possible to evaluate whether each goal is achieved. The goals support, through our academic programming, the commitments in the Strategic Plan.

Like the Strategic Plan, the Academic Plan weaves into the goals and objectives the four overarching themes of the Strategic Plan. These are:

  • Advance VIU’s Indigenous commitments;
  • Deepen equity, diversity, and inclusion;
  • Broaden cultural competencies in a global world; and
  • Support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It is easy to see how our academic activities can support each of these commitments and themes. The goals of the Academic Plan are designed to do exactly this. For example, the third goal in the current draft of the Academic Plan is ”Advance the Practice of Inquiry”. This goal links to the Strategic Plan through commitment 3: Grow to be the region’s hub for research and expertise. Advancing the Practice of Inquiry has as one of the objectives the creation of a “Guaranteed undergraduate research experience” which we can measure. Some of the strategies for creating this experience also link to the themes within the Strategic Plan. For example, through field-based international community development coursework students will “Broaden cultural competencies in a global world” as well as “Support the UN Sustainable Development Goals” and engage in focused inquiry. The foundational plan for Scholarly Research and Creative Activity will more specifically articulate the priorities in this area as well.

3)     The next steps for the Academic Plan

Carol Stuart:

The review of the plan was open to our community for about three weeks, so people had time to read it, digest it and share their thoughts. We are now working through the feedback provided through Ethelo, and I am grateful for everyone who took the time to do so. This is an iterative process, so a new draft will be presented to people during our next consultation phase. These will be focus groups taking place on December 7 and 8, which are open to everyone. After these sessions, the draft will be revised. It will then be reviewed by Planning and Priorities in February and if supported it will be reviewed by Senate in March, which is the final step.   

4)     Values in the Strategic Plan

Carol Stuart:

The values shared in the Strategic Plan express the importance of our relationships at VIU, our respect and caring for each other, and our commitment to the peoples of the Island and Sunshine Coast that we serve. These values will be woven throughout the foundation plans, which is vital. It’s not enough to have a set of values. You need to plan to make them a reality.

The values are:

  • Understanding 
  • Connection 
  • Commitment

5)     Planning for the future

Carol Stuart:

My hope is that the Foundation Plans will provide a way for us to see how far we have come in fulfilling the commitments in the Strategic Plan. We will be able to self-assess and then self-correct if needed. The stated intent for the Strategic Plan and Academic Plan is to create dashboards that people can see and interact with to learn how far we have come and what work is left to do. We will have some very specific measures that will help us assess whether the strategies we are using are working. If not, over the course of the next five years, we will have the opportunity to employ new strategies.   

6)     Speak up, be heard!

Carol Stuart:

The point I want to press home is that this is your chance to leave your mark on VIU. The Academic Plan is currently under development and is being followed by the rest of the Foundation Plans. The Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity engagement activities are underway, with the Student Affairs plan starting soon, as well as the others. Every single one is being informed by employees. Please get involved. Share your thoughts, provide your great ideas on how we can move from where we are to where we want to be. Stay tuned to the VIU Digest for these opportunities, as well as all employee announcements and information from your Dean, Department Chair or Director.



Tags: Teaching and Learning

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