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Growth through focus: UCalgary town hall reveals new 10-year plan

By Kristal Turner, June 30 2020—

The University of Calgary Executive Team has set a goal to become Canada’s most entrepreneurial university with its next 10-year plan, Growth Through Focus, which replaces the Eyes High strategy. 

As announced at the June 24 virtual town hall, U of C president Ed McCauley wants the university to become a distinct brand, be bold in its academic excellence and not become ‘diminished’ due to funding cuts, the government’s system review scope or the realities that the new economy and COVID-19 have placed on Calgary. He sees the university and the City of Calgary working together to create strong connections, becoming leaders in innovation and advanced technology. He cited the example of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon, which became a leader in robotics and innovation despite the downturn in the steel industry..

Perhaps most relevant to the campus community is that the university plans on increasing the number of students from 33,000 to 37,000. This is to be done mainly through the number of graduate students accepted in ladder programs or professional upskilling, potentially increasing from a current 6,300 to 10,000 students. 

The university also plans on becoming a national leader in student experience and increasing investment per student from $45,000 to $54,000. Though increasing its per-student-investment seems a contradiction to the government’s goal of fiscal responsibility, McCauley believes the university can show efficiencies and increase support through specific avenues like work-integrated learning and scholarships, which would fall under the government’s requirement to reduce inefficient spending. This really amounts to a “we choose” versus “they choose” attitude.

After an online survey next week, July and August will see an academic team seeking feedback from faculty, students, staff and the wider Calgary community. McCauley, along with provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall, will meet with student leaders and the Senate to understand how students feel about this new focus, with the final report and governance approval coming in mid-October. There will also be questions posted about programs and departments aligning with this new focus, though details weren’t provided on what this means or if changes to degrees will be made.

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