Campus Life

Open Mike - November 2011, Looking ahead with the AUCC

I have just returned from the annual meeting of the Association for Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Held in Montreal, this get-together was not only productive but symbolic, as 100 years ago this year the first gathering of the AUCC took place at McGill University.

The discussions this year focused on the future of higher education in Canada and included presidential colleagues, faculty members, students and community members. AUCC Board Chair Stephen Toope outlined a series of commitments by AUCC and its member universities designed to benefit all Canadians over the next 100 years. The highlights of those commitments are as follows.

Broadening the view of education

This will be accomplished by leading a Canada-wide conversation about the entire educational system.

Innovating how we learn

The world is increasingly complex and it is critical that students are afforded the opportunity to enhance their learning experience by drawing on a full range of educational, research-based and community-focused opportunities enriched with global engagement and new technologies.

A commitment to excellence

It is essential that we ensure our students are fully equipped to play their role in a new Canada, and a much larger world. This will be accomplished by reaffirming our commitment to high-quality research and enriched learning. It also involves enhancing efforts to engage under-represented students in post-secondary education.

Concentrating the world's best minds on the world's toughest problems

The continued growth of graduate studies and a robust research agenda are critical in the development of new knowledge that addresses key problems in our increasingly complex world.

Cultivating engagement and partnerships

The fifth and final commitment will ensure that universities continue to reach beyond our own institutions to create alliances, partnerships and initiatives of shared purpose to address the challenges facing our communities, our nation and the world in which we live.

These commitments by the AUCC serve as the basis for a new narrative on higher education across the country. This narrative is designed to support the evolution of universities within the context of an evolving Canada, and is meant to guide universities towards a common purpose of addressing the broad needs of society as well as the very personal aspirations of our students, faculty, staff and our communities.

AUCC's new narrative provides all of us at the University of Lethbridge a useful context for considering our future. As we begin the process of reviewing and extending our Strategic Plan, these five commitments can provide useful questions for our community to consider.

For example, how can we contribute to a broadened view of education on our campus? Today we imagine our university as an inclusive campus that is welcoming of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. This is certainly one element of a broadened view but what else might we consider?

Similarly, our vision of growing as a comprehensive university can be aided by considering how some of our best minds can address some of our world's toughest challenges. Today we are tackling such critical issues as Alzheimer's Disease, food security and population health, but what is next?

These are just two examples of how the AUCC›s new narrative can help us consider our future.

Finally, I want to thank everyone on campus for their contribution over the past year as reflected in the recent Globe and Mail and Maclean's rankings. While we do not judge ourselves solely through these methods, I am proud to see that they reflect our institutional goals and that we are clearly providing the services, atmosphere and level of student engagement that our students and their families value.

This story first appeared in the November issue of the Legend. For a look at the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.