Campus Life

Open Mike - November 2012, Putting rankings into perspective

These are heady times for the University of Lethbridge as we celebrate a number of very positive results from national ranking agencies.

The good news began with Research Infosource naming the U of L its Research University of the Year 2012 (undergraduate category), was followed by our strong showing in the annual Globe and Mail Report Card and concluded with the University's highest ever ranking by Maclean's Magazine, a third overall standing in the primarily undergraduate classification.

Dr. Mike Mahon says that chasing rankings will not define the direction of the University.

We are always pleased to do well from a rankings perspective and we should celebrate these results enthusiastically because they affirm many of the positive aspects of our institution, the comprehensive manner in which we are evolving and the commitment we continue to have to enhancing the student experience.

While it is important to receive such external validation, we must remember that these ranking instruments do not define us and cannot play a role in setting the priorities of the University of Lethbridge.

It is essential that we accept these rankings for what they are, a snapshot of the activities we are engaged in, and that we continue to focus on the priorities and aspirations set out in our Strategic Plan.

As part of the Strategic Planning exercise that we are just now engaged in, November is a very important month in terms of the consultation aspect of that process.

Our current Strategic Plan is very strong in that it describes our principles as a university very well and sets a number of solid directives. As we move through the new Strategic Planning cycle, our current plan will serve as a solid foundation from which we will build.

Just as Dr. Andy Hakin challenged the University community in his Fiat Lux address to reexamine liberal education, what it means to us now and what it could be in the future, we must do the same in terms of the Strategic Plan and its directives. We will not stray from the principles set out in our current plan, rather we will think about core issues such as internationalization, liberal education and our First Nations, Métis and Inuit programming and how we can evolve these directives for the next 45 years of the institution.

I encourage you to take advantage of the upcoming consultation sessions (Nov. 23, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Nov. 27, 1 to 3 p.m.; Dec. 5, 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the Students' Union Ballrooms) so that you can provide your thoughts and help set the future direction of your university.

On a personal note, I want to highlight the annual Movember campaign and its goal to raise awareness and support for male mental health and the fight against prostate cancer.

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer this past summer and have just recently undergone surgery to treat the cancer. My hope is for a speedy recovery, and I plan to be back on campus in a few weeks, as I am eager to continue the momentum our University has gained over the recent months.

I want to be open about this challenge I face because I know that there are many more people in our lives who are facing similar health challenges. It's important that we can feel free to talk about the difficulties we face and draw on the strength of our University community.

I thank those who have already wished me well in this journey and I urge everyone to think of your co-workers, your friends and family, and to continue to foster that atmosphere of openness, support and acceptance that makes our community so unique and such a pleasure to be a part of.

This story first appeared in the November 2012 issue of the Legend. To view the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.